Employee Engagement: Why It Matters and How to Build It

Employee Engagement: Why It Matters and How to Build It

If you’ve been around business schools or even around organizations, you’re probably no stranger to the new organizational behavior buzzword – employee engagement. But does it even really matter or is it just one of those short-lived trends that are so popular these days?

It turns out that employee engagement is gaining popular support for a reason. A study by SRHM Research Quarterly showed that employee engagement promotes retention of talent, increased customer loyalty, and improve organizational performance. Gallup conducted research on employee engagement and the results are shocking: 87% of the global workforce is unengaged. So how does an organizational develop employee engagement? It turns out it can be developed through leadership, culture, voice, and integrity.

Leadership

A study in the African Journal of Business Management, which surveyed over 270 employees and managers across the telecom sector, showed that transformational leadership had a significant effect on employee engagement. In order to build employee engagement it’s important to practice transformational leadership. One way to practice transformational leadership is to have a compelling vision that goes beyond maximizing profit. This vision should be depicted by the senior leaders and be visible whenever employees are likely to see it.

Culture

Corporate culture is another necessary element for fostering employee engagement. Companies like Apple and Google are recognized worldwide for their products and their culture, which values innovation, creativity, and teamwork. These companies spend a great deal of resources hiring new employees to ensure that they fit with the corporate culture. To increase work engagement via corporate culture, its important to take stock of the current culture in the organization and actively seek candidates that depict a strong fit with those values.

Voice

When employees feel like they have a voice, not only are employees more engaged, but also are more dedicated to the company and less likely to leave.  A study by Daniel Spencer, a leading researcher in the field of employee absenteeism, found a positive relationship between the degree of voice an employee felt he/she had and retention rates. Given the costs associated with hiring and training and training employees due to turnover can be $75 Million dollars for the midsized company, an employer can go a long way by giving voice to employees. One way this can be achieved is by actively seeking employees’ feedback on various standard procedures and making changes based on that feedback.When a change is made, posters, website content, and other media material should be displayed that gives credit to the employee for the feedback. A name and picture tied with a specific action management has taken, will go a long way in building employee engagement in an organization.

Integrity

The last element an organization needs to build employee engagement is integrity. If an employee feels that the organization does what it says, he/she is more likely to reciprocate by engaging deeper with the tasks at hand. Research from the Ethics Research Center shows that one of the best ways to build integrity is through decomposing the existing organizational schemas. The most effective way of building integrity, then can be through communicating stories through various intracompany media of employees who have stood for the values of the company the company upholds.

As it turns out, employee engagement is more than a buzzword and can drive a competitive advantage for almost any organization. Through leadership, culture, voice, and integrity, an organization can implement small changes that may result in surprising improvements in employee engagement.

Teamwork: Three Tips For A Painless Team Experience

We’ve all been there: joining a team you’ve never signed up for, but your boss, teacher, or just social pressure demands you do. We dread those awfully long meetings; those inevitable off-topic tangents about shows, movies, travel and other things that don’t progress the project; and of course, who could forget the dreadful procrastination that leads to massive amounts of stress right before the deadline? Ahh, the joys of working in a team! But wait, does working in a team always have to be so bad? If not, how can we ensure that our next experiences working in a team are not so dreadful? Here are three tips to make your next team experience a little less painful:

1. Develop a Strategy Early On

It turns out that the potential answers to these questions have been well researched. For example, in Tuckman’s FSNP team development model, it is possible to achieve better performance by establishing a strategy early on. The model postulates that teams go through various stages. In the final stage, performing, team members look after one another, team members do not need to be instructed, there is a shared focus and everyone know what they are doing, which leads to synergy and results. By deciding on a strategy and establishing a sense of purpose early on in the formation of the team, groups can  move through these stages and achieve performance quickly.

2.  Avoid the Power Struggle

Additionally, Tom Wujec, who presented a Ted Talk in 2010 called The Marshmallow Challenge: Build a Tower, Build a Team, presents some contemporary research on how a surprising group always beats the average. The teams that consistently perform the worst are business school students, and the groups that perform the best? – Kindergarten kids. How could these children outperform future business leaders? This performance gap is largely from the lack of a power struggle present in business students as well as the iterative process the kindergarten children used. Therefore, collaboration mixed with constant iterative prototyping leads to great success in teams focused on solving a complex challenge.

3. Focus on Collaboration

Real life cases such as Duke-NUS Medical School’s team-based learning model can also provide valuable insight into the study of teamwork. This model focuses on peer teaching and  collaboration and studies on this model show that Singaporean students using this model not only could perform at the same level as their counterparts, but also do it in half the time. With the goal of learning rather than rote memorization and collaborating rather than competing, these teams leverage each individual’s strengths to deliver great success.

By deciding on a strategy early on in the formation of the team; focusing on solving the task at hand rather than the group power dynamics; and seeking collaboration with our teammates rather than competition, maybe the next team experience you encounter will not be so dreadful and you may even end up enjoying the act of working in a team!