Too often you’ll find that business owners have a distorted view of what constitutes and reinforces employee loyalty. Employees are to be ‘driven’ to results, under a culture of fear where a slight misstep will get your employment terminated, with all the negative effects that brings. This, in their minds, is the only thing that separates a hard-working employee from a chancer looking to earn a month’s wage before leaving or getting fired.
While it isn’t a revolutionary idea, employee engagement has taken a long time to enter corporate lexicon and be put into actual use. Even then, it varies in practice: many companies still cling to a system that doesn’t value an employee’s right to be paid more, be promoted, work less during free time and simply uses employee engagement as an excuse to harass employees that aren’t willing or able to work as hard as their workmates. Similarly, engagement statistics and methodology can be misleading.
At the heart of the issue is the ethical debate between an employee’s work/life divide. Is employee engagement for the benefit of the corporation or the employee? Arguments can be made for either side, but the debate is mostly focused on whether it is ethically right to compel your employees to sacrifice free time, possibly overworking them for the sole benefit of their superiors and company shareholders.
So, the unscrupulous businessman’s definition of EE is basically ‘work harder’. But this isn’t how it’s supposed to be used. Employee engagement is about getting your employees to feel like their work has meaning and is appreciated as more than just a facet of everyday business. Happiness is only one part of employee engagement, as the moods of employees can affect how well they feel about the job, completely outside of the company’s control. Give them work that engages them, work that they’re good at.
Other valuable employee engagement techniques include further training beyond their current job role, replace obsolescent equipment and software to make life easier, provide easy channels for feedback and act on them, take time out to congratulate them on hard or particularly well done work. Financial and material incentives can also spur on employees, but works best as a short-term measure.
We live in a world where old corporate culture is constantly being challenged and replaced with more helpful and less antagonistic systems. No longer are employees supposed to be chewed out by their boss like newly enlisted men being insulted by a cranky drill sergeant. It is positive reinforcement, meaningful work, accountability on both sides and a constant feeling that the business is doing the world good, that allows for good and loyal employees. At the Change Consultancy, we’re excited about taking new technology, methods and workplace philosophy to reinvigorate companies and get them running at maximum efficiency in an age where change is fast and confusing.