Culture and employee engagement are no longer terms to be discussed solely by HR leaders and managers in meeting rooms.
These terms have become very critical for businesses around the world, and organizations are trying to understand the financial impact that culture and employee engagement can have on businesses. Company culture is no longer limited to murmurings in the office as the rise of social media sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Facebook have made employees more powerful than employers. They have not only made the culture of companies public, but also give an opportunity for employees to stay updated about the job market and other companies cultures. The world is witnessing an era of greater corporate transparency, an increase in workforce mobility as well as increasing preference in the use of mobile devices by the millennial workforce to constantly stay online and exchange views and opinions on public forums followed by millions.
As per a survey conducted by Deloitte, 87 percent of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges, and 50 percent call the problem “very important.” 66% of HR respondents reported that they are updating their employment strategies.
The best organizations see a link between talent, engaged talent and their connection to positive business results. CEOs have realized that employee engagement and a culture that promotes and sustains it is not just something nice to have, but critical to business growth.
Your organization’s employee engagement index can also directly impact your revenues.
As per Aon Hewitt’s Global survey, a 5% increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% increase in revenue growth.
There are a lot of factors to consider here as just engagement is not enough to drive sustainable performance. A lot of additional cultural aspects like strong leadership, reputation of company brand, incentives, performance orientation also play a critical role in driving incremental business performance in organizations. But how does one ensure employee engagement and link it with business goals to drive positive results? There are many stakeholders involved in creating a culture of engagement, but leaders are the ultimate owners.
The different kinds of employees in terms of engagement have already been highlighted in earlier posts on the Qustn Café. The two extreme segments of employees – actively engaged and actively disengaged, have an extreme impact on value, both positive and negative. Hence, leaders worldwide have started to understand and analyze such trends to avoid any kind of negative impact.
Aon Hewitt’s 2015 Trends in Global Employee Engagement Report also states that employees are prone to changing segments year to year or month to month, as engagement in itself is very volatile.
Both macro and micro features have affected levels of engagement. GDP growth is one such factor. Historically, economic growth in terms of GDP has been generally followed by investment in people and a subsequent increase in employee engagement. For a rather simplistic understanding of this, when an economy is doing well and profits start flowing in for businesses, they start investing in their people, raise their pay scales and provide them incentives. However, as GDP growth moves higher and higher, engagement levels fall as growth and market opportunity exceed a company’s ability to enable employees and deliver on customer expectations, which indirectly puts pressure on employees who become lesser engaged.
Traditionally, employee engagement and culture are issues supposed to be discussed and taken care of by HR managers. The stakeholders have increased now. Relying solely on HR managers is not sufficient, it’s leader who make engagement happen.
The three most critical stakeholders for driving engagement are:
Leaders play the most crucial role in driving engagement. HR managers should support leaders in creating an engaged environment at workplace. Leaders who motivate and coach their subordinates, who in turn motivate and engage theirs, are a key ingredient in creating a culture of engagement that sustains business results in a highly dynamic global environment. HR managers should demonstrate investment in helping leaders focus on building skills, empowering their colleagues as well as motivate individuals to ensure that they drive their own engagement.
2. People managers
These are the people who conduct performance evaluations of employees and own the delivery of employee growth. These people play a huge role in ensuring that employees feel like being a part of a career in which they can grow and hence give in their best every day.
The biggest motivating factor for most employees to stay engaged is their career development while they are working. Career development is a two way process where the employer also has to take many steps to keep the employees focused and make them deliver their best at work. The focus has now shifted to individuals themselves, where they can drive their own engagement by being aware and mindful of their surroundings and feeling attached to their workplace. Leaders again have a huge role to play in order to make individuals feel like this as they are the ones who impact reputation of the company and creating cultures of innovation. Organizations have started doing this by providing constant and direct feedback to employees at regular intervals through websites and mobile devices so that individuals reflect on their own engagement levels.
In a crux of it all, senior leaders are the most important people who are capable of making or breaking an organization in terms of creating a culture of engagement.
Creating a culture of engagement starts with leaders. Positivity, drive, liveliness, cooperativeness, composure and sensitivity are some of the personality traits of engaging leaders. Apart from this, employee value propositions should be strong enough so that employees know what is being given to them and what is expected out of them.
Company reputation is what matters the most here and employees should have string reasons to work for your company and not someplace else. Apart from this, individual employees should be given self- help and self-search tools where they can find answers to their problems or doubts. For example, IBM has developed a “Faculty Academy” to help employees find answers instead of giving them the answer. The focus needs to be on individual growth and analyzing their strengths as well, in order to harness it in the best way possible.