There are a myriad of HR terms that make the rounds in the B-School curriculum. Out of those, one important term is ‘Engagement’ and no, not the wedding type, but ‘Employee Engagement’. It refers to an employee’s emotional commitment to the organization and its goals. Boring? Let’s understand the meaning of employee engagement by a way of example.
The real meaning of Employee Engagement
Let’s consider the scenario where you are a part of a college committee, maybe the official HR committee. You initially joined the committee because you wished to pursue HR specialization. So far, your goals and the committee’s domain of work are similar. Once you’re officially inducted in the committee… You see the kind of work that is being done by the committee, and you love it.
So, you start to involve yourself more in the activities. Concerned whether the events you’re a part of reach the right people or not. You work hard to make sure that the committee’s social media pages gain the reach they need. You get involved in various verticals, just because you like that sort of work, and you’re keen on it.
Related: Take a look at the challenges faced by the HR function during COVID times.
Here, you are an engaged member of the committee, displaying discretionary actions. Now, as a result of your actions, and keen follow-ups, you get recognized, which takes you by surprise, because you weren’t working for recognition or promotion. You were working harder, simply because you felt committed to the goals your committee was trying to achieve. You didn’t mind waiting back beyond college hours to finish up some of the work, nor did you mind running trivial errands for the committee. When the time came to see how well you’ve performed, you did see a quantifiable result.The result?
The committee noticed a spike in its event turnout, as well as in the reach of its social media pages- something that both you and the committee were working towards. Ultimately, you ended up playing a larger role in the committee than you anticipated, and it was a moment of pride for you. The committee heads started looking at you as a reliable member and reciprocated with efforts for your betterment. What a win-win, right?
The Corporate Angle
In the corporate sense, engaged employees translate into higher business outcomes, and better shareholder returns over five years. In fact, these profits percolate down to every quantifiable level. Engaged employees provide better quality services to the company and the clients, leading to more satisfied customers. This, in turn, helps the business grow and brings in higher sales, which will ultimately lead to higher shareholder returns. It’s rightly said that improving your business begins at the grassroots.
According to a Towers Perrin research, companies with higher employee engagement have at least 6% higher net profit margins.
Example of the Southwest Airlines
A very relatable industry example of a company that engaged its employees and did well with it is Southwest Airlines. The airline has stood the test of time, as it has been profitable for more than 4 decades in an industry which is prone to falls. Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly has emphasized a ‘people-centric’ approach that is followed by the company which drives higher engagement amongst the employees.
A direct quote from him is, “Our people are our single greatest strength and most enduring long term competitive advantage”- an example of their ‘people-centric’ culture. This is also exhibited in the way the company views its purpose- connecting people with what’s important to them, and not just as a transport company.
Related: Take a look at how brands increased their engagement during times of COVID
The purpose is what the employees are committed towards, and thus perceive their jobs as more meaningful and/or rewarding. It creates more engaged employees, as people like to know they’re working for something bigger and that ushers in the collective good, rather than just a job. I’m sure you would also like to know that through your job, you could be touching lives, and helping people, rather than just being tied to your desk from 9 am to 5 pm, working on something that doesn’t impact the real world.
Southwest Airlines have been boasting of 44 consecutive years of profit, additionally 85% employees say they’re proud of working there, and the airline also has the lowest number of consumer complaints- all the metrics for success through highly engaged employees.
Thus, you see how important it is for an organization to work its way from within. Engagement turns out beautifully both for the company and the employees. Here’s hoping you now know more about Engagement than you did before!
Author: Mahek Mirchandani, is a co-author at CaseReads. We have added a repository of 10+ concepts that you will need to crack start your pre-MBA journey; find all of them here. Do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter, click here.
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