By Employee Engagement, we mean the extent to which the employees of an organisation are motivated about their work, loyal to their organisation and are passionate about what they do. Usually, people tend to mistake the idea of employee engagement with job satisfaction. However, these 2 concepts are quite different from one another. Employee satisfaction indicates the level of happiness or contentment experienced by the employees, whereas employee engagement is the degree of one's involvement in the work. By making changes and modifications in the level of satisfaction will not necessarily lead to increased performance. This is because of how one view happiness and satisfaction is subjective. In the context of employee engagement, making the right changes would have an impact on job performance as well as lead to more growth and better decision making.
There are many barriers to employee engagement. Some of them are -
A common barrier at not just my place of work but many organizations is the inability to strike a proper work-life balance. Almost all jobs are demanding by nature, be it professional or personal. Sacrificing one's personal responsibilities and demands for one's work and expecting it all the time will lead to a general sense of dissatisfaction among the employees. As a consequence, a fall in work performance due to fall in engagement levels will occur. As per recent trends, we find more women and single parents as part of the workforce. It is unfair to, for instance, make them choose between time with their children and work. This lack of structure, further adds to their discontentment. This, however, does not imply that looking after one's children is the only responsibility at home. There are other commitments such as care for the parents and elderly, self-care, leisure, care for one's mental health and indulging in activities that aid in personal development, which also require attention. Companies need to re-think their attitude of work comes before everything.
Imagine a scenario where an individual is the only child and only earning member of the household. They have 2 old parents at home who also require attention, apart from their demanding jobs. They are given huge amounts of work, maybe even asked to work overtime which isn't fair considering they have to check up on their parents too. Quitting may not be an option as they need money to buy medical supplies and other everyday essentials. So it is a no brainer that they would give in to the pressure and not be able to put 100% into their work as feelings of dissatisfaction and stress will arise, ultimately leading them to probably look for better work opportunities elsewhere. This, however, isn't just the loss of the employee, it is a loss for the organisation as well as they had to let go of an employee who could have been a valuable asset in future.
So, how do we tackle this problem? For starters, proper allocation of responsibilities and delegation of duties is a must, so that employees do not feel overworked. Introduce the idea of job sharing so that timely help is provided to employees and the work can be completed as a joint effort. Encouraging the idea of part-time work, i.e. recognising that some employees though valuable, may not be able to devote all of their time to the organization and its work, hence providing them with the option of part-time work or even work from home for that matter, as it will better equip them to deal with responsibilities at work as well as home.
Employee Engagement is not only about fun activities and parties, as there is no substitute for fulfilling work experience. Listening to the concerns of the employees through a one on one session or by conducting surveys at the workplace, it would be easier to get to the root cause of all the problems and tackle them one by one. Encourage the employees to provide feedback without the fear of getting penalized for being honest. Also, keeping in mind the recent trends involving advocating for mental health concerns, proper resources concerning the preservation of the mental health of the employees should be provided at the workplace. These small steps go a long way in instilling a sense of security among the employees. They feel valued and cared for, in return strengthening their commitment with the organization. By ensuring that the barriers to employee engagement are kept at check at one's place of work, it will not only foster a sense of contentment and security among the employees but will also lead to higher rates of employee retention, making it a win-win for all involved parties.
Beauregard, T. A., & Henry, L. C. (2009). Making the link between work-life balance practices and organizational performance. Human resource management review, 19(1), 9-22.
Bin, A. S. (2015). The relationship between job satisfaction, job performance and employee engagement: An explorative study. Issues in Business Management and Economics, 4(1), 1-8.
Markos, S., & Sridevi, M. S. (2010). Employee engagement: The key to improving performance. International journal of business and management, 5(12), 89.
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