Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Employee engagement - can we be bothered ?

The phone is ringing it's 4.57, my shift ends at 5.00. Do I answer it or let it ring ? The answer is, it depends !

If i'm someone who is emotionally connected and buys into their organisational vision then yes, but if i'm someone who just shows up everyday but isn't present then the answer is no. Why is it that one person buys into the vision and culture and another doesn't ?

To answer that question we have to start by being clear about what we're talking about here. In the parlance of the HR world what we are descibing above is all about employee engagement or the lack of it. But what does that mean ? According to the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) " It can be seen as a combination of commitment to the organisation and its values plus a willingness to help out colleagues (organisational citizenship). It goes beyond job satisfaction and is not simply motivation. Engagement is something the employee has to offer: it cannot be ‘required’ as part of the employment contract"

Why should employers be concerned about levels of engagement ? "If an organisation wants to come out of the recession and attract the best staff, then employee engagement has to be a factor they focus on. It’s a strategic imperative. Employee engagement directly affects customer service, financial performance and the future well-being of the organisation.”( HRzone) " So that's the business case written !

In a future blog I plan to talk about what organisations can do to improve employee engagement but that's for another day.

So why is it some people are engaged and others are not ? Let's assume the person who would answer the phone and the person who wouldn't had joined the company on the same day and received the same induction day. When they joined they were surely both motivated, keen, eager to learn and develop with their new organisation ? So what's gone wrong since day one ? They had the same training, they did the same job, worked the same hours and earnt about the same. The only difference was that they had different managers.

According to research by Gallup people don't leave organisations they leave managers. So the reason that one of them isn't engaged is down to his or her manager ? Surely it can't be that simple ? Applying Mcgregor's Theory X stereotype, perhaps the non engaged employee is inherently lazy ? There must be more to it than this ?

I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts.