Many organizations all over the world had to adapt to a new normal this past year, and it wasn’t easy on most - to say the least. People lost jobs, were forced to work in unsafe conditions to keep a roof over their heads and had to keep working like it was business as usual while dealing with unimaginable loss and suffering. Through all of this, HR was at the helm, steering the ship through these murky waters.
Now, they face the new challenge of getting employees to start working at the office again, and once again HR is responsible not only to make sure that productivity levels are maintained, but also to make sure that they are meaningfully engaged with the organization’s activities. They’re now also the ones who are responsible for hiring the manpower organizations lost in the past year, and to streamline the employee onboarding process and HR’s role in it.
But before we delve deeper into HR’s role in maintaining employee engagement and how it’s evolving, let’s talk about what is employee engagement in hr.
What is Employee Engagement in HR?
According to Forbes, employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. In the article by Kevin Kruse, the CEO of LEADx goes on to explain that employee engagement is not the same thing as employee satisfaction - or even employee happiness.
Satisfied Employees and Engaged Employees: Are They Both the Same?
Happy employees are happy in their work, but that doesn’t mean they care about the company they work for. Meanwhile, Kevin insists that the bar for employee satisfaction is too low for it to have any real value to the employer. After all, a satisfied employee might show up to work every day without protesting against it or feeling bad about it, but do they really go above and beyond for the company, or even care? The same can be said about a happy employee. They love their job and they’re happy with their role within the company, but do they care about the company’s goals and vision, or do anything to further it?
How to Spot an Engaged Employee?
An engaged employee is one who does. They care about the company and its success, and they care about making the company grow and succeed. Engaged employees are usually ones who see themselves as vital parts of the company, and their end goal is the company’s success rather than the paycheck they get every month.
Employee engagement is important because it is the main thing that encourages employees to work for the well-being of the whole organization. It’s what pushes employees to do better, and gives them a sense of purpose. According to various statistics and research, companies with an engaged workforce do better than their competition, bounce back from recessions and financial hits quicker than others.
What Makes an Engaged Employee?
If you really think about employee engagement, in essence, it’s basically a measure of how much employees care about their company, and how much they want to see it succeed as a whole. There are many factors that determine how much employees care, some of them being:
- Engagement With the Organization: Do employees trust and look up to the upper management and the organization as a whole or not? Employees won't be engaged if they feel like people are being treated unfairly in the workplace, or that the organization stands for something they don’t personally align with.
- Engagement With Direct Managers: If employees have a good relationship with their supervisors that is built on trust and mutual respect, and if they care about helping the managerial staff meet deadlines, they’ll be more “engaged” with their work.
- Clear Goals: If the managers are clear about their expectations and their goals, employees will be more interested in finishing their assignments and fulfilling their tasks. Understanding why someone is doing what they’re doing can make a huge difference in people’s attitudes at the workplace.
Ensuring all these things are happening around the company is naturally HR’s role, but let's look into how that's changing rapidly too. '
What is the Role of HR in Employee Engagement?
HR's Role is in Ensuring Employee Engagement Throughout the Times. Let's start by saying that employee engagement itself is a relatively new phenomenon. Before the 1990s, HR was all about employee satisfaction and not much else, and no mind was given to whether the employee actually cared about their organization or not. The main focus of HR always has been getting results from the workforce, but experts now reckon that this needs to change.
In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Lindsay Lagreid talked about the need for HR to take a more employee-centric approach to matters in the future. She and her team at Limeade Institute have sizable research supporting the fact that successful companies are ones who care about their employees as people. According to Lagreid herself, “HR is the architect of the employee experience and needs to act as the unrelenting advocate of the employee voice to leadership.”
These days it's getting harder and harder for employers to retain talented personnel. This is because people don't just look for a stable job they can work at for life anymore. They're looking for growth, challenges, a rewarding career, and most of all they're looking for a happy life. If their job is standing in the way of all this, they might consider drastic changes in their life.
Read our blog on Examples of Smart Goals for Human Resource Professionals
Evolution of HR’s Role in Employee Engagement
A Manager’s Duty
Something like employee engagement was always present in all organizations - it showed itself in the way many managers handled day-to-day affairs in the company and around the office, in the way they made sure all the employees were happy, and cultivated a close-knit team that relied on each other to make things happen. This has always been the norm in great and successful companies, but now that it's been given a name and people are realizing how essential it is to success - especially post-lockdown when employee retention is harder than ever - HR has started to get involved.
Now, HR is tasked with ensuring that the managers are empowered to cultivate the conditions necessary around the workplace to encourage employee engagement.
HR and How it Evolves
In the midst of these changing conditions, HR needs to shift strategies. As we mentioned before, it now needs to focus more on what the employees need to stay engaged and happy, and to advocate for them with the higher-ups than advocate for the higher-ups and get the results they want out of the company’s workforce.
In that light, let’s discuss all the things that HR will need to adapt to, and all the things HR needs to do to ensure employee satisfaction.
- Recruiting: Put more focus on hiring the right kind of employees - the ones who would find the job interesting, or who got into this line of work out of a desire to do this for a living. Alternatively, you can hire employees that identify with your organization’s message and whose personal lives align with their goals.
- Job Enrichment: Take steps to make the job fulfilling and meaningful for the employees. This involves making employees feel a sense of purpose and feel needed, to state their needs clearly and to cultivate fair values in the office. Employees should not only trust but identify with the work culture and their own role in it.
- Take Regular Surveys: It’s vital that you run a employee engagement survey every year rather than employee satisfaction, and to rethink your strategies based on the results. Instead of focusing on what the employees need to do what upper management wants them to do, HR should now focus on what employees need to be more engaged, and what the company can do to facilitate these changes. Investment decisions and any changes in the workplace should be made on the basis of these survey results.
- Training and Onboarding New Employees: When new recruits reach this stage, HR would now need to focus on telling them how they fit into the company and how their contributions are important, and to make their roles seem meaningful to the employees. Emphasize how they’re a vital part of furthering the organization’s mission, and take steps throughout the company to actually follow through on these promises and claims.
HR departments in companies all over the world are now dealing with a workforce that has drastically different approaches to work and their careers than the workforce did two decades ago. Employee engagement is more relevant now than ever, what with increasing competition and a pressure on organizations to do better, and how vital employee engagement is in this struggle. Gone are the days when the end goal of HR was to ensure mere employee satisfaction, and new HR approaches and policies need to reflect this, but with the help of some retraining and an adaptive attitude that focuses more on employee wellbeing, this won’t be too hard to achieve!