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Employee engagement is the association that an employee perceives with his job or organization. The engagement can be weak or strong, depending on a variety of factors. These include the similarity in the organizational and personal vision, values and ethical principles, work-life balance, and other aspects of the workplace. Employees who experience a strong level of engagement identify more closely with their job and are more committed to their organization. Their work becomes a crucial aspect of their life and overall personality.
Organizations continuously strive to strengthen levels of employee engagement among their workforce. There are many reasons for doing this. Firstly, employees who are highly engaged are more passionate about their work. For them, their work defines their personal value, and they are driven to excel in their jobs. Secondly, employee engagement affects the overall morale of the workforce. It is a contagious phenomenon. If a single employee loses interest in work, it can cause other employees to lose interest in their work too. In addition to morale, engagement also affects employee productivity. Highly engaged employees are also more productive, coordinate better with other teams, and are capable of assuming leadership roles in the organization.
There are many reasons why organizations should seek to increase employee engagement in the workplace. By doing so, they can ensure that employees are satisfied with their jobs and continue to work at the organization. Staff turnover is reduced, and the costs of hiring and training also go down. Secondly, high engagement means that employees are ready to put in extra effort to meet organizational goals. They are more goal-oriented than the regular 9-5 workers who put in face time instead of valuable time in the workplace.
Often, the reason for poor engagement is that employees do not understand how to perform their jobs. At other times, their skills have become outdated, or they do not know how to access the resources they need to do their jobs. Over time, this leads to disenchantment with the workplace. The best way of overcoming this is to give them training in new ways and techniques. This can be in-house or outsourced training, attending workshops and seminars, working with a mentor or coach, or taking online lessons. All of these methods can help employees be up-to-date with the current concepts, technologies, and skills related to their job.
IT skills are a critical component of employee engagement, especially for older employees. As new technology comes in, it brings about a change in work processes and workplace systems. Employees who are not used to these technologies feel left out and become territorial about their work. It is important to provide them IT training so that they can perform at par with the newer employees and can be a productive part of the workforce.
The best way of improving employee engagement in the workplace is to give a greater sense of purpose to the work they do. This means extending the scope of their work to the community. Explaining to employees how their work affects the society and community helps them to view themselves as social beings instead of small cogs in a big corporate wheel. Employees can be encouraged to spend time in charitable causes of their choice on official time to make them feel more fulfilled and satisfied with their work.
To increase employee engagement in the workplace, it is important to seek their feedback regularly, not only on matters that affect their work but also on how the organization is run. Employees desire to have a voice in the workplace to feel valued and appreciated. The company can do this by having frequent town hall meetings, create an employee suggestions box, have an ethical hotline, and encourage informal chats between staff and their supervisors.
The workplace has a direct impact on the level of employee engagement. A cooperative, open, and encouraging environment encourages employees to contribute to their fullest. They feel ready to take on challenges, find solutions to problems and innovate. On the other hand, a workplace culture that promotes a toxic mentality, abusive behavior, and micromanagement lead employees to put in the bare minimum without going the extra mile.
A team-based environment is crucial for promoting employee engagement. Within a team-based environment, a project team, product team, or a departmental team, the employees get ample opportunities to collaborate for solving problems and expressing their ideas. This gives them a sense of ownership in the solution, and they feel a sense of personal pride in the accomplishment of the group.
Each employee is different—with their strengths, weaknesses, needs, and aspirations. For a manager to successfully increase employee engagement, they need to address the distinct strengths and needs of each employee. This means identifying the unique talents of each employee and giving them relevant tasks and opportunities for professional success, including promotions, high profile projects, and foreign assignments.
Enabling high levels of engagement in the workplace requires a conscious effort, but sadly, not all managers are adequately trained for the job. Management should offer proper training to supervisors and departmental heads so that they can actively create engagement strategies and consult with their subordinates for implementing them. The training should enable them to formulate and implement such plans, set goals, and monitor each employee’s performance.
The best part about employee engagement is that it creates a ripple effect across the organization due to the positive energy it generates. When management invests in increasing engagement levels in the workplace, what they get in return is a highly-skilled, motivated, and committed workforce who can take the organization to the next level of success.