Little, cosy shells - cubicles - with soft beds to take mid-work-day naps, bean bags, relaxation rooms, club house, gym and a huge cafeteria that runs 24x7 for employees. A video of a leading IT company, showing all these - it went viral, and got billions of likes and comments on social media. In another one, employees are seen working on their computers. Suddenly, an alarm goes off, and after listening to it, everyone gets up. Soon, a popular Bollywood melody starts playing and the entire staff can be seen jiving. The rock n roll session continues for only five minutes, but the unique idea of shrugging off stress and instantly creating a lightened atmosphere is truly appreciated.
One would wonder, in these times of squeezed bottom lines why would a company go to these lengths to provide seemingly over-the-top comforts to its employees? Well the answer lies in what Campbell's Soup CEO, Doug Conant, once said, "To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace". A highly engaged workforce is the key to a high performing organization.
According to Bersin by Deloitte, "Employee Engagement has become a top issue on the minds of business leaders, directing us to an entirely new model of management". But exact understanding and definition of employee engagement remains ambiguous. What is clear is that employee engagement does not mean employee happiness or employee satisfaction. Someone might be happy at work but it in no way guarantees that they are working hard and productively for the organization. A satisfied employee might not complain but would be happy to shift the job for a salary hike. Employees need to be emotionally committed to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment creates an inherent feeling of belongingness and care about their work and their company. They understand and perform meaningful work, to achieve the organization's goals, which is beyond working for salary or for the next promotion. These employees proactively and passionately add value and are completely aligned to Company's mission.
It is a well-known fact that the cost of acquiring and training an employee is way higher than keeping that person engaged at work. Plus, successfully replacing an employee, who knows the ins and outs of a specific job profile, is no mean task! Businesses lose money, when a bankable employee leaves. Most importantly, an employee is a company's best brand ambassador - you certainly wouldn't want one, who won't have nice things to say about your work culture.
Thus, the need for employee engagement! A person spends considerable amount of his/her most productive hours at a job, and, thus, there has to be a regular incentive of intellectual engagement, fun, stimulation, passion, bonding and relaxation - apart from the usual or the obvious ones i.e. money, perks, constructive ecosystem and a positive work culture. Business buzzwords, research literature and other areas of study are ubiquitouson the subject of employee engagement. But, let's keep it simple with the following pointers.
The very first rule is to Know Your Employee. Knowing doesn't just mean having the information in one's bio-data. A manager should know the strength of a particular person - even outside his/her work area. Also, managers should have all the details of pervious interests, hobbies, creative skills and even the weak points.
Training and continuous learning opportunities form the core of engagement. Once a new employee joins the company, she must receive an orientation and structured training to help them align to the job. The new employee should also be provided with an in-depth knowledge of company's value, vision and mission.
Compliment is the fuel for growth. Start admiring your employee for various tasks, however small they may be. Also, sometimes, compliment them for their presence of mind, and attributes other than the work - like their attire, punctuality and other things. You must also make them realize their mistakes, timely.
Share more with your staff. Always share vision, mission, goals, challenges and milestones with your staff. Keep the channels of communication open and transparent. This will make them aware of the real situation of the organization and boost the sense of ownership and responsibility.
Always be open for suggestions and opinions. While taking a decision, specifically a major one or the one that directly affects the employee, always try to incorporate suggestions and opinions from your staff. This will boost their confidence, in turn, increasing engagement.
Most important is the engagement in work, which should start from leaders and managers. The leaders are meant to lead the team - not confuse, scare or show them down. We all know that people quit bosses and not jobs. Well the opposite is also true. Inspiring managers create engaged teams. Involve your leadership in building a compassionate workplace.
These simple tips will go a long way in increasing the levels of positivity, motivation and overall employee engagement in any organization.