The Importance of Employee Engagement

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Change is a constant in today´s modern business activity. As Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter wrote in Fujitsu´s `Fit for Change´ report, “the current rate of change within businesses is faster than the rate at which organisations are improving…many organisations just can't keep up with the speed of change.” (www.theinformationdaily.com, 2012). This more and more complex and competitive environment inflicts a greater pressure on the employees; given that the employees are the heart of organisations not approaching them appropriately is one of the main reasons of corporate failure (Argenti, 2009). Although there is not a lot of research done in this field as it is a relatively new concept (Saks, 2006), understanding the importance of employee engagement and implementing a well-developed internal communications plan is crucial for success, especially during change (Dolphin, 1999). The organisation should be guided by experts through all this complexity if it wants to overcome all the tension that originates from the dynamics of change and survive.

THE IMPORTANCE OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Many authors claim that an organisation´s accomplishments, financial performance and employee outcomes may be predicted by the levels of employee engagement. However, it is surprising that even if it is a logical assumption, it appears that employee engagement is waning and that disengagement among the majority of today´s workforce is costing huge amounts of money to organisations in productivity loss (Saks, 2006). At present, workers are well educated, have greater expectations than those of past generations, and aspire to have a better understanding of the company they work for (Argenti, 2009). According to Argenti (2009), most companies´ senior managers exclude lower-level employees from taking part in most decision-making. According to Dolphin (1999), employee communication is too often conducted by in-experienced and junior personnel. Therefore, it could be said that organisations do acknowledge the importance of employee engagement to some degree but are not following an appropriate and effective two-way communication strategy that will engage their staff.

ORDER AND CHANGE
Every organisation has a culture and identity of its own and these should be consistent, coherent, and clear. When an organisation suffers a big change, it might have the need to acquire a new identity and/or alter or even create a whole new corporate culture (Dolphin, 1999); to be able to direct this change effectively, there must be a well-defined vision. Most of the definitions of vision in this context make reference to an ideal or a future to which the organisational change should lead to (Palmer, Dunfard & Akin, 2006). Without a firm vision and effective internal communications, the “changes introduced by managers may seem arbitrary and unneeded… vision helps to motivate staff in working towards the change and engaging in what may appear to be daunting or risky actions” (For Kanter et al., as cited in Palmer et al., 2006, p.245). Sutton and Khan (1986 as cited in Jimmieson et al., 2004, p.12) argue that when a deep change is about to happen, workers “go through a process of sense-making in which they need information to help them establish a sense of prediction and understanding of the situation”. Palmer, Dunfard and Akin (2006) insist in the importance of having their employees well informed about the situation and about what is expected from them,

To the extent that the strategic intent is not complemented by clarity as to expected actions, the chances increase employees will fail to convert a change initiative into supporting action at their level of organisation. The Key point here is that the lack of supporting action is not due to overt resistance or even apathy; it is due to the lack of clear understanding of what such supportive action would “look like.” (Palmer et al., 2006, p. 149)

Organisations must therefore aim to...
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