Employee engagement truths… who’s responsible?
Creating an engaged employee is not just the responsibility of the human resources function or the head of Human Resources of an organization. Most contemporary organizations, barring an exceptional few, leave the task of creating employee engagement to the HR head or the human resources team. the top management and the leadership teams get disconnected with the day to day rigmarole of employee engagement, thinking or presuming that it is what the HR function exists for. Nothing can be far from true and more disastrous.
Irrespective of which phase – nascent, growing or well entrenched and established- an organization is in, employee engagement is a function of the leadership and top management – the A team if you can say so (including the board), and times of challenge and uncertainty, are the best times to re-visit these fundamental tenets of employee engagement.
There is just no better time to work on building ‘employer value proposition’ than now.
The broad definition of ‘employer value proposition’ is striking a balance between the values, both the employer and employee derive from the relationship. For any organization, be it big or small, there is one (in fact ONLY) critical factor that can bring value worth more than its weight in of gold – it is to create, sustain, and grow ‘employer/employee value proposition’ by the hour, by the day, for the eternity of the organization. It will not be an exaggeration to state that the ‘eternity/successful longevity’ of the organization, is inextricably linked to how engaged the employee/the work force is.
What causes shock and a bit of dismay in any student of ‘employee engagement’ is thatemployee disengagement’ becomes a tool of first resort for the leadership of the organization, when the going gets tough.
The management and the leadership, which ought to communicate more than ever, which ought to engage more than ever, which ought to look at taking every single employee of the workforce into confidence, in trying times, does the opposite – be incommunicado, shut transparency, resort to mass retrenchment, even cut on hygiene benefits, and in the quest to tide over these tough times, do everything that is a no-no.
Undoing this, when the times get better, will be a humongous challenge, and any amount of selling by the same leadership is not going to help – for every one negative step today, even four positive steps to undo later might seem insignificant.
So, more than ever before, it is today that the leadership of the organization must spend loads of time on employee engagement – for the better of the short/long term interests of the organization. Rather than get into a shell or a reclusive mode, the top leadership must communicate more, know employee concerns, address the inherent and time-sensitive insecurities and get to the pulse of every single member of the team – every issue that may seem greatly important and downright trivial should be.
Each and every decision that is taken, and impacts any corner of the organization should be communicated clearly to the employees. In a word, having a ear on the ground, to the last step should be the cardinal rule, now, more than ever. It is also leadership’s responsibility to create a proactive and dynamic mechanism, where every manager/business head/human resources function is committed to THIS style of employee engagement, in all sincerity – and a great amount of effort should go into creating a right perception of these decisions, because employee engagement is also about every measure is perceived by the stake holders.
In all this, precipitate actions could be looked at as a measure of last resort, and when they are resorted to, they also should be explained with reason to the whole workforce – unless this is done, the whole exercise gets defeated.
There can be numerous ways and methods by which what is stated in a nutshell can be implemented, depending on the team size, the line of business, and the competitive scenario – all that can be debated and a plan of action formulated on a case to case basis. And all gleanings in contemporary HR and employee engagement practices must be relied upon.
Leadership must, NOW, more than ever before be truly-truly committed to absolute employee engagement – and that will be a recipe that will sustain organizations in the long run – much longer that every single employee will be a eternal brand ambassador – the inherent value derived for the organization will be phenomenal, and immeasurable.