Employee Engagement, Who’s Responsible

After yesterday’s post on engagement it got me thinking about who is responsible for employee engagement. Is it the responsibility of the employee to keep themselves engaged at the work place or is the employer’s responsibly. Lear (2013) states that “it is the responsibility of the people who want the employee engagement; managers.” Therefore the focus of employee engagement should come from the managers not the employees themselves.

In most cases, engagement starts off high, new hires are excited; there is a lot to learn as the new job presents a challenge to them. However, as the gain mastery over the job, engagement will start to fall as boredom will set in quickly. There must be mechanisms in place to ensure that employees remain engaged or else risk the consequences of what disengagement brings to the organization. There are four arenas that organizations need to look at for areas of change; these are Goals, Culture, Structure and processes.
Goals, does the organization have well defined goals, do employees understand them and how they as employees fit into the company’s goals. Goals come in two categories, Broad and Implicit as well as Tactical and explicit. For engagement levels to be high those broad strategic goals, must be expressed in a way that can show an employee that they clearly adding value in what the day everyday by showing up to work.

The culture arena is an area that to me is one of the most important in employee engagement. Culture is the Behavior of employees, the stories, the vocabulary, the artifacts/symbols, the visions, norms, values, systems, beliefs and Habits. If the culture does not foster engagement, then how can we expect to keep them engaged? I couple of years ago I had the experience of working in the most cultural toxic culture you can imagine. When I was taken to meet some of the employees of my department there were literally warning me not to take the job, can you imagine walking in the door of a business of a good paying job and being warned off by employees not to work there. After taking the job, I lasted less than six months, in fact the entire department quit. Moral of the story, ensure that the culture fosters engagement.

Structure, how is the company structured, is it more vertical than horizontal, is it easy to get to a manager, do they have open door policies, or is the vertical, stove piped and slow moving. Can it react to issues within the organization and changes in the environment quickly, can you speak up and offer opinions and ideas. Working in an environment where you cannot approach your manager with a suggestion or an idea is not a lot of fun.

Processes, does the workplace have processes that foster engagement, like goals, do processes align with the companies goals, are there training programs and opportunities for personal growth. I work in a job where processes are changing all the time, the issue is that they are often not well communicated and you bump into new requirements only after a quality review is performed. Are the processes at work setting employees up for failure, if so maybe it is time for a change?
Where should an organization start, not an easy question, but quick wins are always good, structure changes are not often in the quick win category and culture can also take a long time to change especially if the organization is highly toxic. Areas that are easier in my opinion are at the grass roots, look at the company goals, and think how that translates to an action I can take with my employees so that they can see that there are positive changes coming. Changing an organization to a more engaged work place will not happen overnight but it will happen if employees perceive change in a positive way.

Lear, G. (2013) ’Who is responsible for Employee Engagement?’[Online] Available at: http://resourcedevelopmentsystems.com/seblog/2013/07/who-is-responsible-for-employee-engagement/ (Accessed: October 6, 2013)


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