The article “Employee Engagement: The Key to Improving Performance” by Solomon Markos & M. Sandhya Sridevi touches upon the issue of implementing new managerial means of improving the company’s performance, namely the employee engagement concept. The authors claim, that this approach towards Human Resources Management is one of the most prosperous methods of working with the labor force and increasing its overall efficiency. This in the long term allows the company not only to operate more cost-effectively but also obtain a strong competitive advantage over the rivals and increase the profits. The construct is considered to be broader than its earlier analogs and retain their strengths.
The authors claim that the concept “Employee Engagement” has various definitions. As cited by Markos & Sridevi it may in general be defined as “a positive attitude held by the employee towards the organization and its value. An engaged employee is aware of business context, and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organization. The organization must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between employer and employee”. Other authors provide similar definitions, differing according to the aspect of the concept, which the author lays special emphasis on. Important is that according to research results, more attention should be paid to how people occupy roles to varying degrees – how fully they are psychologically present during particular moments of role performances (The Academy of Management Journal, 1990).
The earlier constructs such as Employee commitment and Organizational Citizen Behavior are regarded as the components of employee engagement and present valuable tools, which a successful company is sure to implement in its human resources policy.
Markos & Sridevi draw special attention to the factors, regarded as drivers, which actually lead to employee engagement and increase its level in an operating company. The authors’ claims are based on several surveys and research works, which were conducted by research groups in the last five years and therefore present relevant information concerning employee engagement.
The essential factors described in the article are as follows. Firstly, it is vitally important to provide the employees with the opportunity to contribute to the company’s success, which at the same time evokes a feeling of implication, hence fostering loyalty. Secondly, the level of communication between the employer and the employee plays a significant role, as it prevents too high staff turnover and allows the company to retain motivated specialists. Thirdly, empowerment is considered as one of the important ingredients of employee engagement. Delegation of responsibilities and providing the opportunity to take part in the process of decision making get the employee to believe that he is an important part of the huge mechanism, the company, increase his self-confidence and feeling of implication. In such working conditions the employee is better motivated to contribute all his physical and mental efforts to doing his routine work better and faster and at the same time come up with rationalistic ideas and suggestions. This way the employee’s goals and the goals of the company, he works for, are the same, which provides the management with extremely motivated and high morale staff (Coffman & Gonzalez-Molina, 2002). Another crucial factor, named by the authors, is the appraisal system, which is also a vital part of the mix. Only when the employee feels, that his work is valued, will he try to put in all his efforts (Robinson, Perryman, Hayday, 2004). Special attention is drawn to the fact, that appraisal can be both financial and nonfinancial and, what is more interesting, the latter one is not only a more popular means of increasing the company’s performance among the employers, but also an extremely efficient tool, which is claimed to have a bigger effect, than cash bonuses.
The importance of implementing employee engagement into the human resources management system is described according to the impact it has on the financial indicators of an operating company. Such crucial factors as employee retention, productivity, profitability, customer loyalty and safety, customer satisfaction and other industry average figures depend directly on the level of employee engagement (BlessingWhite, 2010). This is why this relatively new concept of management is to be used in companies, willing to succeed on the market and not be driven out by competitors in the constantly evolving business environment.
Markos & Sridevi point out three main factors, by which employee engagement benefits the business. It is, firstly, the fact that engaged employees always refer potential customers and workers to the company. Secondly, such staff-members are less likely to leave the company even if more attractive vacancies are open for them in other companies. The level of staff turnover is of great importance for the company, as it is obvious that it takes time and investment to train each new worker to fit in the company’s standards and conventions. This brings us to the conclusion, that being able to retain its specialists for a longer period of time, a company can spare costs significantly and not lose capacity and productivity at the stage of introducing new workers to their core functions. Thirdly, the engaged employees are supposed to be ready to contribute extra time, effort and initiative in order to accomplish their tasks and make their personal contribution to the company’s overall high performance.
Furthermore, surveys have shown that operating margin and net profit margin are higher and have a positive trend in companies with high level of employee engagement, which clearly depicts the dependence of these economic indicators on the described management construct (Alison, 2006).
Steps to high employee engagement
The authors propose ten practical steps, which are supposed to make the level of employee engagement comply with the goals set. Among others they specifically mention the importance of introducing the engagement concept from the top of the company. It is assumed that the system will not work properly, unless all the company’s members including the top management are in on it.
Decent managerial work is another factor, which accounts for the level of employee engagement. It is essential for every manager to provide his subordinates with all necessary resources, both mental and physical, and at the same time allow them to enjoy more freedom in executing core functions, which favors decision making.
It goes without saying, that building a corporate culture is vitally important for establishing an image of the company not only in the eyes of the customers, but in the employees’ eyes as well. The staff is supposed to know precisely the vision, goals and long-term missions of the company; otherwise they simply participate in routine work without any willingness to contribute to the company’s performance.
Importance of employee engagement
Markos & Sridevi have clearly shown that in today’s rapidly developing business world implementation of modern HRM constructs is of great importance and may provide a significant competitive edge.
I, personally, strongly believe that such approaches to management in general and employee engagement in particular are a valuable tool for every business entity. I go along with the ideas, presented by the authors of the article, as they seem to be absolutely logical and well-reasoned. It is clear that without using innovative concepts of working with staff and being up-to-date with the business world any company becomes less competitive on the market and in the long term tends to be driven out by more efficiently operating rivals.
However, I suppose that the concept of employee engagement should also include rigorous work within the company in terms of finding out the real needs of the employees. This idea was not included in the advice list by the authors, but is sure to be of great importance, especially in today’s situation when most employees tend to be not fully satisfied with different managerial aspects in their workplace (Towers & Watson Global Workforce Study, 2010). It is logical that all work aimed at increasing the staff performance is costly and if inappropriate tools are selected much money may be wasted. In this connection, it would be reasonable for the managers to be able to define specific needs of their labor force and satisfy them accordingly.
As the authors claim that nonfinancial influence plays a huge role, it is also important for the managers to provide the staff with the exact reward each employee wants. This is mutually beneficial for both sides: the company spares its costs and time; the staff is well-motivated, and knows that by contributing to work they will receive appropriate remuneration from their point of view.
Employee engagement is a real-working, but not yet popular business concept, although in case of proper usage it can benefit the company substantially. According to Ken Scarlett the discretionary efforts of the fully engaged employees are of higher quality and of a more positive intensity than other less-engaged ones: their economic contributions to the business consistently exceed their employment costs. This in plain language outlines the effects of using the concept of employee engagement. The benefits from implementing it outweigh the costs significantly and as a result the company obtains all advantages over its competitors, which especially in case of middle business entities and large corporations allows it to rule the roost on the market.
Alison, M. K. (2006). Engaging Employees through High-Involvement Work Practices. Ivey Business Journal.
BlessingWhite (2010). Employee Engagement Report 2011. Retrieved from http://www.blessingwhite.com/eee__report.asp
Coffman, C., and Gonzalez-Molina, G. (2002). Follow this Path: How the world’s greatest organizations drive growth by unleashing human potential. New York Warner Books, Inc.
Kahn, W. A. (1990). Psycological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work. The Academy of Management Journal
Robinson, D., Perryman, S., Hayday, S. (2004). The Drivers of Employee Engagement. Institute for Employment Studies.
Scarlett, Ken (2011). What is employee engagement? Retrieved from http://scarlettsurveys.com/employee_engagement.cfm
Scarlett, Ken (2010). Quality Employee Engagement Measurement. Pages 108-122
Towers & Watson (2010). Global Workforce Study. Retrieved from http://www.towerswatson.com/global-workforce-study
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