Employee Engagement has become a hot topic which is commanding the attention of an ever increasing number of companies. It is somewhat surprising therefore that, as yet, there is no generally accepted single definition of employee engagement. Many companies and HR managers are talking about it, but very few define it. So our purpose here is to provide a succinct review of the research into employee engagement, and to offer a range of definitions, including our own working definition. One of the most comprehensive reviews of the research is "Employee Engagement”. The Conference Board offers a synthesised definition which sees employee engagement as "A heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work." Employee Engagement:
"A combination of commitment to the organisation and its values, plus a willingness to help out colleagues (organisational citizenship). It goes beyond job satisfaction and is not simply motivation. Engagement is something the employee has to offer: it cannot be 'required' as part of the employment contract." The question is: what circumstances or conditions are needed before a person can feel that heightened emotional connection or sense of commitment and organisational citizenship? In other words, what are the key ingredients of employee engagement? Digital Opinion's own research points to the following: * The nature of the work
In our view these are the pre-requisites for employee engagement. They inform our definition: "Engaged employees enjoy their work and are proud to tell people that they work for the Company. They go the extra mile to help their customers and colleagues, and they want to stay and develop a career with the Company. In the long run they are the real contributors." And they are the key factors which underpin our approach to conducting employee engagement surveys and helping companies to raise the level of engagement.
Why does employee engagement matter?
Employee engagement matters because engaged employees create loyal customers who, in turn, drive profitable growth. That is the simple conclusion at the heart of "Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work", a seminal study of successful service organizations published in the Harvard Business Review in 1994. Based on an analysis of major US corporations such as Banc One, Intuit Corporation, Southwest Airlines, ServiceMaster, USAA, Taco Bell, and MCI, the Harvard study established the links in the Service-Profit Chain: Profit and growth are stimulated primarily by customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is a direct result of customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is largely influenced by the value they attach to the services provided. Value is created by satisfied, loyal, and productive employees. Employee satisfaction, loyalty and productivity are in turn stimulated by policies, practices and support services which inspire employees to deliver results to customers.
In other words, how employee engagement impacts on customer satisfaction and profitability. And it shows management the importance of focusing on the factors which drive engagement: investment in recruitment, training and development, and the technology that supports people, together with performance management systems which properly link performance and pay. For other business leaders the statistics are not necessary. To them the relationship between employee engagement and profitable growth is self-evident. When asked which measurements "give the best sense of a company's health" in a recent Business Week advice column, former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch replied: "Employee engagement first. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how...
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