A flip side to employee engagement

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15 Nov 2022

To bring a change in employee engagement — there is a need to reverse the lens of what organizations are looking for. Rather than the approach being in line with employees perspectives.

The term “Employee engagement” has become more common than ever. As, one can see a number of articles on this topic, such as: “Five powerful steps to improve employee engagement,” an article advises; “How do I keep my employees engaged?” another one asks.

Today, employee engagement is a popular HR fad, even though the term is relatively new. It was in 1990 when Professor William Kahn of Boston University coined “engagement” in terms of the workforce in his paper, “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work.”

However, Professor Kahn describes

“Engagement” as a word that suggests betrothal — the decision to commit to a role, an identity, and a relationship that offers fulfillment.

A commodity, not a concept

But, in the present scheme of things, employee engagement has become something of a commodity.

Since, large consultancies have turned the simple idea of employee engagement into something, leaders should be doing, and are benefited by creating packaged approaches, toolkits. They have turned the concept into a product.

Additionally, they have also linked employee engagement to business outcomes such as sales and revenue numbers. But these methods have marginally benefited the employee.

Today’s employee engagement programs are driven by the organization and do not focus on the employee. This is because they are created and measured from the perspective of the organization rather than the employee. And employees sit in the background as an audience for the whole process.

What is not

To foster real engagement of employees, for starters, there is a need to understand what is not employee engagement. And one should be assured, that paycheck and perks are not synonyms to employee engagement.

Moreover, employee engagement does not mean employee happiness. As, making the employees happy is different from making them engaged.

While a company with games room, free massages, and a stocked up kitchen are fun, but they aren’t engaging the employees.

Also, the employee engagement also doesn’t mean employee satisfaction. As, a satisfied employee may be happy with the nine to five jobs but they might not be willing put an extra hour of work when needed; Hence, satisfied isn’t suitable.

Employee engagement as Professor Kahn says is the emotional commitment of the employee which s/he has to the organization and its goals.

When, talking about emotional commitment which means employees care about their work and the company. They don’t work just for a salary, but they work on alongside the organisation’s goals and ambitions. Therefore, when an employee cares, they engage with “their” choice.

Flip the scripts.

To bring in a new perspective — One that reverses the lens of what organisation are looking for in their employees. This new approach “flip the scripts” and is concerned with learning, from the employee’s perspective, which Hush — Speak Up. Make Work Better; an app provides. At Hush, employees can express candid opinions without any fear of recognition or judgment.

We use anonymity as a tool to facilitate real and honest workplace discussions. At Hush, we give employees the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns which can be heard through the barriers put down by the workplace.

It is a platform, which totally changes the dynamics of employee engagement.

The importance of respect

Hush is a companion for the corporate workforce as respecting the opinion of every employee is utmost vital for us.

Because jobs are often a central part of our lives as they tell who we are and how we perceive our self when we get respected in a professional setting, it gives us a signal of social worth.

When an employee joins an organization, they hope to build their identities over time, by nurturing professionally and becoming better versions of themselves.

As a recent study in Harvard Business Review points out,

“ Employees who feel respected are more grateful for — and loyal to — their firms.”

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