Oceanic Pharmachem Private Limited (OPPL) believes that for an engaged workforce, companies must create an emotional connect with the employees and not just good places to work at.
Employee engagement is all about the emotional affinity employees feel for a company. Every other parameter is important as long as it translates into an emotional connection. The engaged employee feels a sense of immersion in a company, its culture, its well-being. They don’t just work for the company; they are part of the company and the company is an important part of how they define themselves.
The engaged employee may not be very good at what they do; in fact, being good at a job isn’t a prerequisite for engagement. Conversely, high performing talent isn’t necessarily engaged; they might leave any day. The engaged employee feels a bond; they are committed to, believe in and are emotionally involved with the company.
The level of engagement is actually a spectrum, running from the disaffected, barely-working people who have zero emotional connection to their employer to those who look upon switching jobs as equal to a divorce.
A Dose of Reality
Engagement has high standards, and many leadership teams delude themselves about the level of engagement of their employees. As per industry reports, more than half of all employees are largely disengaged.
Many leaders act as if their employees owe them their loyalty. They are against critical employee surveys and feedback as if poor results are a reflection on the respondents. A company and its leadership must earn the commitment of their employees, not assume it or demand it. And if leaders are disappointed with the feedback they get, the only people to whom they should complain are themselves and their senior leadership team.
Missing the Emotional Connection
For many leaders, the employee feedback process is a half-hearted routine. Some surveys are run, with a bunch of questions regarding employee feedback about the company, leaders, managers and peers. Based on an index or benchmarks, HR is requested to hold a few focus groups and make some recommendations. Then, running the business is resumed until the next survey wave.
This type of clinical process doesn’t typically bear much success. In fact, this type of dull approach actually can make things worse, as employees readily see through insincere efforts.
Along with the basics, including salary, resources, work space, ergonomics, it is necessary to get employee thoughts about leadership and corporate strategy, as well as their opinion of direct managers and peers. It may also help to get employee views on processes and infrastructure, the company’s products and treatment of customers, as well as the firm’s commitment to sustainability and support for the community.
The only thing that really matters when it comes to employee engagement is how all measures translate into the level of emotional attachment employees feel for the company.
Measuring emotions is a challenge, as conscious minds don’t really comprehend feelings. Hence, measurement is inherently murky and obscure.
The traditional approach is simply to ask employees to rate or score their feelings. Even though, this approach is far from perfect; but it’s easy, conventional, inexpensive and practical. However, employees often are reluctant to give explicitly weak scores.
To avoid asking employees directly about their feelings, a survey-based technique to implicitly measure emotional attachment with association tests, can be used. The strength of emotional attachment can be gauged based on the speed or accuracy of the answers in response to some prompt or stimuli.
Another approach is to take employee comments – whether in response to questions or unprompted topics – and analyze their posted words to determine the underlying feelings. Tools to automate this function to scale are available, including complex algorithms to root out the underlying emotions embedded in what is said or written.
Whatever approach is chosen, any serious effort at assessing employee/ workplace issues must include the emotional dimension, as it is the emotional bond that is the keystone in the foundation of employee engagement. In the absence of emotional connection, the foundation of the organization crumbles.