Employee ‘in full gear’

In the face of increasing competition for talent, while companies expand and grow within India and abroad it has become increasingly important to entire one’s current employees are fully engaged. Integrated and feel invested in developing a career with their employer.

Employee engagement is fast becoming the latest technique for HR managers, CEOs and company executives. It is however, a focus that has always been in existence and defines the true fabric and identity of a company. Whether an employee is truly engaged or not is determined by a few key elements that make up the work place. Many dictionaries define the word as the condition of being in gear or in transmission. The ideal state for any employer is to have employees who are ‘fully in transmitting’. An employee is fully in gear when certain elements about his/her work, manager, and the work environment are in alignment with the employment situation.

There is no secret recipe that will suddenly engage all employees for an employer. Many companies provide excellent work environment, perks and benefits from mother’s rooms, recreation facilities, multi-cuisine restaurants, fitness centers, crèche facilities, concierge services to maternity and paternity leave, adoption leave, sabbaticals and part time work. While these are great strategies to keep employees engaged, the real secret goes back to fundamental management practices – ‘know your employees’.

Many companies are focusing on management excellence as a fundamental strategy to address employee retention Equipping managers with the necessary skills so that they can connect and converse with employees in the right way is a critical engagement tool. What keeps a particular employee partially engaged vs fully engaged is something a manager can easily discover by regularly connecting with the person. Driving a conversation around the persons’ work and how well that matches his/her aspirations; discussing the work environment; the team environment and what is important to that individual are important decision making data for a manager. In addition, being of what employees need from you as a manager can help you modify your style, level of oversight and involvement to better match each employee. Work culture factors such as flexible schedules can impact engagement levels and can change over time as the employee’s personal situation changes. Organizational factors, such as the company’s commitment to the environment, connections with customers, product quality can also be important engagement factors. While managers may not have control over all factors, they must be aware of these hot spots to better predict actions and responses and be prepared for the right conversation.

A deeper investment in developing management capability is a key retention strategy in many companies today. Many studies have shown that one of the top reasons an employee leaves a company is the manager. Encouraging managers have regular meetings and spend quality time on understanding the employee go above and beyond having the employee update the manager on project status, resources and next steps. Many companies recommend that at least once per quarter there is a deeper conversation between each manager and his/her employees to focus on the many elements described above.

In addition it is the importance of the manager relationship, employers are also investing in corporate branding focused on the internal employee population. Identifying key attributes about why your employees love to work for your company and then celebrating that internally is a great way to tap into the existing pride and excitement of your employee population. Employees become ambassadors for the company because they speak from the heart and help position the company as an employer of choice. This pride and excitement can create a deeper level of engagement amongst employees.

Till the end of the day, having a “fully engaged” employee is a win-win situation. Those employees stay longer and contribute in a more meaningful way. Employee engagement does feel like a new tag line but it has been in existence since the very beginning as a core management practice. In today’s competitive environment, companies are ensuring that they have a philosophy and practice that acknowledge the importance of the manager in retaining employees. Many companies are investing resources in the way of training, skill development and mentoring. This has a retention side effect. The more companies demonstrate that they value the management role; more deeply engaged are their employee population become. As companies continue to grow, it is this population of employees that can serve to build a bench for leadership positions. As solid management practices become embedded in the organization, it becomes true fabric of how the organization operates and employees will remain more ‘fully in gear’.

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