Employee Engagement

Discuss about the Employee Engagement.

Human Resource Management (HRM) refers to a collection of policies used to organize work in the employment relationship’ (Beardwell and Thompson, 2014) and that the contexts that shape HRM are dynamic, complex and can sometimes be difficult to act upon quickly and effectively. One important issue with HR is to be up to date and cope with external factors such as change in legislation, political environment and economic environment to name just few.

The objective of this paper is to discuss the importance of employees’ engagement for global organizations to remain productive and competitive. The paper would discuss the key challanged that Human Resource Managers can have while addressing the issues of employee engagement. Today, HRM has emerged as a strategic and proactive function. The HR managers have realized that employee engagement could be a key for organization success (Antonakis & House, 2014). Therefore, the objective of leaders and HR managers is to create a culture where employees remain motivated. The initial research suggests that employee motivation is the key driver of employee engagement. The higher levels of employee engagements are associated with the high motivation level of employees. The higher levels of employee engagement are desired so that the overall productivity of organization could be improved and it would eventually enable the organization to remain competitive in the market.

Literature Review

Gallagher (2013) argued that employee engagement is the key role of Human Resource Managers. Contact between HR department and an employee is quite common. In the case of interviews, induction process or refresh training, employees have contact with the human resources department virtually all the time. Of course, the whole process of contact could be simplified into a computerized communication system, but the companies focused to have flexible Human Resources Management function that encourages its workers for making personal contact. Moreover, if HR department is busier than normally, they are setting alternates whose role is to assist in case if employees report any problems or issues. HRM is about “the creation of relationships and commitment of employees to the organization”. This is a very important factor, which may get overlooked in the face of new technology and financial strategy.

According to Human Resources Online (2016) the six HR challenges to face most organizations in 2016 are:

  1. Employee engagement
  2. Creating an attractive company culture
  1. Leadership development
  2. Data and analytics
  3. Performance management

Zmud & Bock (2005) highlighted that all these six challenges are linked with the first challenge of employee engagement. HRM is a very passionate subject and a complex area with a vast array of required knowledge and skills. One of the important aspects of HRM is employee engagement and one of the key ways in contemporary business environment to improve the employee engagement level is the use of technology. HR can profit from new technology in the sense that it will help by reducing paper work which can be time consuming and increased human errors, savings on training the workforce with online attendance, easing of internal and external recruitment process instead of shifting through hundreds of CV’S, intranet for ease of access to the organization department and as mentioned in one of the posts the ability to print your own pay slip. As technology can be beneficial in the long term HR must ensure that the training using this technology and maintain it should be a priority to avoid any risks of failure.

Fong & Hills (2007) argued that the employee engagement levels would depend on number of internal and external factors. Obviously, internal factors will be paramount; such as budgets and the company’s profit and loss accounts, but there are also equally as important external factors. Firstly, the economic cycle will influence HRM depending on what stage of the cycle the country is currently in; Boom, Slowdown, Recession or Recovery. For example, during the Recession stage, the country can see a decline in the talent pool as unemployment rates rise and fewer vacancies are made available (Salanova, 2012). This can make it difficult for HRM to source our new employees and the expertise that the business requires. It could also mean competition for candidates, as citizens will be looking for the highest paid job, resulting in changes to salary trends. In addition, a Recession could mean that consumers are spending less, which will directly impact the output of the business – this could result in redundancies due to a lack in demand. In contrast, during the Boom stage of the cycle, consumers are spending more so HRM may need to consider hiring more employees in order to cope with demand.

Sylvesstre-Williams (2012) states “Managers who don’t create the right opportunities, don’t communicate with employees, and don’t appreciate them often find themselves dealing with a high turnover rate”. Therefore, highly skilled managers assist on retaining their employees by keeping their employee engaged.

According to Torrington (2014), four key objectives for the foundation of all HR activity that acts as the basis of employee engagement. These are:

  1. Staffing objectives– Appropriate selection and recruitment. Developing employment, reward and development packages that offer the best chance of retaining a well-selected workforce. Designing organizational structures and ensuring the correct types of contract are offered to each employee.
  2. Performance objectives– External negotiations to improve employee performance, such as with unions. Disciplinary procedures that are consistent, effective and equitable, to ensure continued performance improvement (Salanova, 2012). Encourage ‘employee engagement’, creating sense of ownership to encourage performance and job satisfaction.
  • Change-management objectives– Structural or cultural change can create conflict if not managed carefully and with employee involvement this can be reduced and create a smoother transition. Conflict management and avoidance play a major part in HR roles.
  1. Administration objectives– Record keeping; employee personal/performance data. Attendance and training records (Smith, 2011). Payment and contractual details those are required to be kept properly in compliance with laws and legislations around National Minimum Wage and Work Time regulations. National Insurance contributions, Tax, Maternity and Sick Pay, Annual Leave allowances etc. are all essential parts of HR administration requirements.

The research suggests that the combination of the four factors helps leaders and HR managers to develop a self of satisfaction among employees. The satisfaction of employees is a necessity requirement for employees to work with high level of productive. It has been observed that the organization can be competitive in nature only when the employees are productive. The other important point is training which is normally organized by HR and normally benefits the company (Shamim, 2014). It can be said that the training for employees is also a necessity condition to keep employees engaged.

Discussion and Analysis

There are four key areas of HRM that can improve the level of employee engagement and make organizations productive and competitive. The four main contexts for HRM and its practices are:

  1. Technology –The use of computers and the Internet has allowed organizations to use a wider source of platforms when it comes to recruiting; such as social media. In addition, the majority of our training is now down online as e learning due to the developments of technology. Both advancements appear to be highly successful as last year we saw the highest volume of apprenticeship applications, due to the application process now featuring on our social media sites, and e-learning courses have been gaining excellent feedback through internal surveys.
  2. Economic – The economic impact on HRM will vary depending on what stage of the economic cycle the country is currently in. For example, a recession results in higher unemployment and fewer vacancies. Leonardo had to undergo redundancies in order to deal with the decline in demand. In contrast, the company may have to hire a specific skill set when the government increased spending in the civil sector.
  • Culture – Ones culture can influence their religion, language, dress and diet which can cause tension and arguments within the workforce (Buller & McEvoy, 2012). This can be tackled by implementing training in cultural competence, which would allow employees to understand the various cultures in the workforce and the benefits that can be reaped from them. One of common value of modern organizations that value employee is diversity and all employees must attend a diversity workshop explaining the importance and benefits of diversity (McGuire, 2014).
  1. Demographic – The age of employees can alter what they deem as important and their motivators to work. HRM must recognise these needs on a one to one basis in order to satisfy its workforce (Collins & Gibson, 2016). For example, the elder employees will be interested in good pensions and will not care for training. On the other hand, younger employees will crave training and the opportunities for new experiences.

Gwinner (2013) argued that the high productivity level of employees and the engagement level of employees would also depend on the attributes of leaders in the organization. It is important that the managers must have high value so that the employees of the organization can also attain high values that could make employees motivated and productive. Kraemer (2011) says that values-based leadership is about “who you are and what matters most to you”.  It is not about following a role model or using anyone else’s values to base your leadership style on.  It is leadership in its truest form: always doing the best you can and striving to do the right thing. Kraemer discusses four pillars of values-based leadership:  self-reflection, balance, self-confidence and humility.  Self-reflection requires a leader to look within to know exactly what he or she stands for, what values they have and what’s important (Viinamaki, 2012).  Balance allows the leader to look at situations from various viewpoints. Self-confidence is simply accepting yourself as you are, while humility is never forgetting where you came from. A values-based leader makes his or her values known throughout the organization and promotes a culture that supports those values (Daft, 2015).  The followers of this type of leader share his or her values and act accordingly.  In doing so, the values of the organization as a whole are communicated both internally and externally. Therefore, it can be said that value based leadership and the presence of leaders in the organization that value high ethics and morals is also a necessity condition to keep employees engaged and to improve the employee retention levels.

Daft (2015) illustrates plainly the idea that organizational culture has at its core the values, norms, guiding beliefs, and understandings that is shared by members of an organization.  Furthermore, that same culture is taught to new members as the basis for how they think, feel, and behave.  Culture is not a written set of items because it is all encompassing.  In other words, it is more aligned with how and what actions are carried out by employees toward each other, customers, and the general public/community (Wang, 2014).  It is based highly on what the organization views as important relative to the way they do business in general.  This can be seen in both the internal and external relationships that the organization has established.  The organizational leadership must always take into consideration the internal and external stakeholders affected by managerial decision-making but more importantly the core values of the organization (Dolata & Schwabe, 2014). This helps further establish organizational stability and lays the groundwork for sustaining the organization over time.  The very approach that the leaders take has a direct effect on organizational success. 

Conclusion

To conclude, HRM should have a plan in place for engagement of employees in order to have a course of action to follow and in order to remain productive and competitive. This should allow for minimal disruption to the company’s activities. With the above discussion it can be said that employee engagement should be established as a culture in the organization. The employee engagement would be a path towards productive and competitive advantage only when it is established as a culture in the organization and leaders would have the responsibility to establish this as a culture. Value-based leadership plays a fundamental role in shaping the culture of an organization. In turn, the culture of an organization partly influences the success of an organization (Daft, 2015). For this reason, it is important that leaders understand the importance of values. Leaders must be able to determine the values for which they stand, and self-reflection plays an important role in learning about one’s values (Davis, 2016). In an organizational setting, the levels of employee engagement would depend a lot on the strategy used by the top management and senior leadership. Therefore, it is important that leaders should take employees and other stakeholders together while developing and implementing the strategies towards employee engagement, productive and organizational competitiveness. It is well accepted that culture is not a written set of items because it is all encompassing throughout the organization whether being displayed internally or externally.  

References

Antonakis, J. &House R.J. (2014) instrumental leadership: measurement and extension of transformational –transactional leadership theory, The Leadership Quarterly, volume 25, Issue 4, Pages 746-771 

Bock, G. W., Zmud, R. W., Kim, Y. G. and Lee, J. N. (2005) ‘Behavioral Intention Formation in Knowledge Sharing: Examining the Roles of Extrinsic Motivators, Social-psychological Forces, and Organizational Climate’, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 87-111

Beardwell, J., Thompson, A. (2014). Human Resource Management: A Contemporary Approach, 7th Edition.Online via VitalSource Bookshelf at https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781292116914/ [Accessed 26th August 2016]

Buller, P. F. McEvoy, G. (2012). Strategy, human resource management and performance: Sharpening line of sight. Human Resource Management Review. 22 (1), 43-56.

Collins, C.G., Gibson, C.B., Quigley, N.R. and Parker, S.K., 2016. Unpacking team dynamics with growth modeling An approach to test, refine, and integrate theory. Organizational Psychology Review, 6(1), pp.63-91.

Dolata, M. and Schwabe, G., 2014, May. Call for action: designing for harmony in creative teams. In International Conference on Design Science Research in Information Systems (pp. 273-288). Springer International Publishing.

Daft, R. L. (2015).  Organization theory and design (12th ed.) Mason, OH: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

Davis, P. (2016). Retrieving the Co-operative Value-Based Leadership Model of Terry Thomas. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-12.

Fong, P.S., Hills, M.J. & Hayles, C.S., (2007) Dynamic Knowledge Creation through Value Management Teams, Journal of Management in Engineering, 23(1), pp40-49

Gallagher, K. (2013) Skills Development for Business and Management Students: Study and Employability. UK: Oxford University.

Gillespie, B.M., Gwinner, K., Chaboyer, W. and Fairweather, N., 2013. Team communications in surgery–creating a culture of safety. Journal of interprofessional care, 27(5), pp.387-393.

Germain, M. and McGuire, D. (2014) ‘The Role Of Swift Trust in Virtual Teams and Implications for Human Resource Development.’, Advances in Developing Human Resources, 16(3).

Kraemer Jr., H (2011).  The only true leadership Is values-based leadership.  Forbes.  Retrieved fromhttp://www.forbes.com/2011/04/26/values-based-leadership.html

Shamim, A, & Ghazali, Z 2014, ‘A Conceptual Model for Developing Customer Value Co-Creation Behaviour in Retailing’, Global Business & Management Research, 6, 3, pp. 185-196

Smith, E.A., (2011) ‘The role of tacit and explicit knowledge in the workplace’, Journal of Knowledge Management, 5 (4), pp.311-321

Slocum, D. (2015). Seven Tyrannies That Creative Leaders Must Overcome. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/berlinschoolofcreativeleadership/2015/04/01/seven-tyrannies-that-creative-leaders-must-overcome/#33d75dfd1b0b

Torrente, P., Salanova, M., Llorens, S. and Schaufeli, W.B., 2012. Teams make it work: How team work engagement mediates between social resources and performance in teams. Psicothema, 24(1), pp.106-112.

Torrington, D. (2014) – Human Resource Management 9th edn.  Pearson Education M.U.A.

Viinamaki, O. (2012). Embedding value-based organization: An identification of critical success factors and challenges.  International Journal of Management Science & Technology Information, 1(3), 37-67.

Wang,S.,  Noe R.A. &Wang ,Z.  (2014)  Motivating Knowledge Sharing in Knowledge Management Systems: A Quasi–Field Experiment Journal of ManagementVol. 40 No. 4, 978-1009 

 

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