High employee engagement is a very desirable condition. It is closely and positively related to the productivity and high quality of employees’ output and their loyalty to their employer.
Unfortunately, a global study conducted by the US Gallup research agency in 2017 (Gallup's 2017 State of the Global Workplace) shows that nearly 9 out of 10 employees do not get engaged in work in their organization. According to Gallup, low employee engagement results in a significantly higher level of absenteeism compared to the companies in which the employees are engaged, and as a consequence, it leads to significantly lower productivity, revenues and profitability.
Is the lack of employee engagement due to perceived low salaries? Not necessarily. According to the Harvard Business Review (2018), 90% of employees are ready to earn even less than they do now, provided that their work makes more sense to them.
Intuitions and personal observations of many managers are empirically confirmed. Employees perceive their work as meaningful if they feel a sense of belonging, share goals and experiences. In addition, the conviction that work contributes to the employees’ professional development significantly enhances the job’s meaningfulness. If employees see know-how as an important element of their job that can be shared, then a sense of co-creation is born.
A well-designed employee's job description and appropriate leadership leads to a situation when the work itself becomes a reward for the employee. While working, they get fully immersed in what they do. They reach, what the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi names, ‘flow state’. Traditional systems of rewards and punishments do not help to reach this optimal condition. In some cases, they may even prevent employees from reaching it.
At Factor Consulting, while conducting consulting projects for our clients, we place great emphasis on designing jobs and tools as well as internal systems in the organization that will maximize employees’ engagement. To this end, we use the 5-dimensions rule, i.e.:
- Meaning (job makes sense).
- Belonging (feeling of community).
- Autonomy (degree of choice).
- Development (growth opportunities).
- Influence (perceived impact).
Designing optimal solutions for our clients, we ask ourselves the following questions:
- Do employees see their work as meaningful? Do they perceive themselves, and are perceived by others in the organization in the context of the mission and vision? How have the employees’ roles been embedded in the organization’s strategy?
- Do the employees feel they are part of the bigger whole, and what fosters or hinders the feeling? The organization structure, assessment and reward system, information and decision processes?
- Do the employees have some autonomy over the way they organize and do their work? Aren’t standard operating procedures for their jobs too constraining, paralyzing the employees and decreasing their initiative and motivation, instead of helping them reaching objectives?
- Do the employees feel like they are becoming better specialists and experts in their line of work, broadening their minds and competences, even becoming better individuals?
- Last, but not the least, do the employees recognize positive impact of their work? Can they enjoy the fruits of the work? Are their results appreciated in the organization and seen as value added by either internal or external customers?