Organizational management has realized that retaining and attracting top talent employees is of great importance in the organizational strategies overall success. Line managers have increasingly adopted the employee engagement strategy to maximize the talents and capabilities of their human capital. Drawing from recent research reports, it was evident that there was great performance improvement from the engaged employees in corporate businesses (Ahmed et al., 2020). Through human resource management (HRM), employee engagement influenced the workers’ job performance in different capacities (Alola & Alafeshat, 2020). For the past year, the inter-management-employee coordination has been rendered hitched immensely, particularly in the education sector right after the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic. This report analyses the basic employee engagement concept to solve multiple challenges raised by The University of Staffordshire staff during the challenging COVID-19 period.
Scholars and Education scientists have described employee engagement in several ways. According to Kahn (1990), personal involvement happens as individuals hire and articulate themselves mentally, cognitively, and physically when undertaking a task. It harnesses the company members’ to their job functions (Wang, Hsieh, & Wang, 2020). As a result, Kahn saw employee involvement as a reaction to work conditions. According to Cheema, Akram, and Javed (2015), employee involvement is described as holding employees in their careers while enabling them to express themselves enthusiastically, physically, and rationally. In this regard, engaged employees in all the three mentioned aspects would bring in many efforts to accomplish their work and produce meaningful organizational results. Employees who are involved have a deep relational link to their contract and a high degree of personal interest in it.
Implementation of Employee Engagement Strategy
During the assessment performed by the University staff, and given the challenges which derailed the overall university performance, employee engagement was established. Notably, performance management policies and procedures were not conventional, and the issue was exacerbated with the move to online working. Consequently, line management capability was slow and more tasks orientated with added difficulty to manage. In this regard, there were poor channels for communication, which required a proactive engagement.
Steps in Employee Engagement Strategy
- Step 1- With a critical analysis of the organization’s size, the organization should focus on a small number of low-performing employee groups. After the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic, the institution opted to invest in full-time online studies. It was evident that this was a new and challenging learning method for both the students and staff. However, some employees consequently coped perfectly well with the new learning mode. As a result, the University never perfectly performed employee engagement for most of its staff. According to Diaz‐Carrion, López‐Fernández, and Romero‐Fernandez (2020), HRM may be developed in cases where there is a need to develop a measurable instrument that allows for a systematic assessment for more sustainable achievements. In this case, the management is supposed to spot the employees who had difficulties in the new normal and subsequently move them to the step discussed below.
- Step 2- Conversely, spot the high-performing employees, and identify what best lessons can be withdrawn from them and applied to the low-performing employees. As with the employees who coped perfectly well with the system, the institution should appoint them to the various underperforming positions. The move will effectively establish the future actions to efficiently work out an active work plan for the new normal.
- Step 3- With the management at the forefront in drafting an action plan that identifies the priority issues and the needed steps in addressing the key issues. The first and second steps are observation and research sections. The analyses, when gathered together, make the management create a clear action plan that brings back poor employee engagement into its initial smooth running (Tensay & Singh, 2020). As a result, the action plan enables the management and the organization to identify gaps that need to be addressed.
- Step 4- Where necessary, involve the employees in finding solutions, at a minimum, and allow them to make suggestions accordingly. As per Saleem, Shenbei, and Hanif (2020), the management can incorporate the employees in formulating the action plan, which subsequently enables the organization to find solutions to work-related issues. This will consequently give the employees a sense of belonging to the organization and participate in decision-making for the institution.
Components of an Effective Engagement Strategy
The employee engagement strategy is normally modeled before the administration of the commitment survey. An effective strategy, therefore, should incorporate the following prospects:
Communicating the Engagement Strategy
Effective communications that entail the plans on informing the staff and the leadership of the engagement execution are of great importance to the organization.
Identifying Action Areas
Attempting to fix any potential action item found by an interaction survey can drain energy and is likely to confuse staff and administrators, culminating in a chaotic operational climate. One should use the interaction survey findings to decide where to direct capital for optimal performance and effective strategy.
Identifying Measurable Outcomes
Reduced turnover and improved profitability are indicators of concrete benefits of an active workforce. There are the ultimate targets of an interaction plan and the metrics used to measure it. To define relevant results, determine how they align with the organization’s priorities, mission, policy, and principles, and get input from senior leadership and other stakeholders.
Importance of Employee Voice and Involvement for the Institution
Employee involvement occurs when the institution employees are encouraged to participate actively in the institution’s decision-making and management processes. Thus, the employees are aligned with the organization’s values and work ethics and are directly involved in achieving the organizational objectives and goals (Nienaber & Martins, 2020). It can be effectively achieved with open communication, selective participation, suggestion boxes, and employee-involvement programs. In this sense, the employees will be productive in their professions and become more responsible for their actions.
Employee voice and involvement in the decision-making process increase productivity.
Employee productivity is the basic need of any effective organization. It is a basic psychological element that a task done with the involvement and dedication of employees is done perfectly as the employees become more clear in their thought process, bringing more awareness in handling situations with much ease. Therefore, the management must involve the employees.
Employees’ voices and involvement enhance morale amongst the organizational workforce. The institution’s work culture should emphasize employee voice and involvement as it boosts the overall attitude, satisfies employees, and motivates their employees and the workplace environment. High morale employees are normally inspired and self-driven; making them devote their time, resources, and efforts towards organizational goals and objectives leading to a high-performance rate.
The voice and involvement of the employee generate healthier workers’ relationships.
One of the organization’s major successes is having a friendly and positive relationship between the management and staff. Miscommunications are bound to happen in the event of the organization having non-transparent relationships. This consequently leads to hindrance in progress towards success. Thus, involvement and voice uphold the employees’ freedom to share their knowledge as the organization is opened up and accepts all the employees’ ideas.
Commitment towards organizational objectives can be achieved through effective voice and participation in the decision-making process. An organization with free contribution and open opinion promotes a learning atmosphere and similarly creates an environment for a collaborative exchange of thoughts and ideas within the workplace. Both the two training aspects bring about employee positive feedback. This is a medium through which the management allows the employees to give their views on the functional procedures. This creates loyalty and commitment towards work for the teams.
Innovative and technological enhancement is often created by an open workforce and opinion-oriented staff. An actively involved employee in the executive meetings will continually be kept onboard on the development plans and the necessary steps to achieve them (Men, O’Neil, & Ewing, 2020). This makes the employee feel part of the organization making thus, improving their responsibility level. This improves work performance because it increases the possibilities of innovative thinking.
Strategic Dimensions for Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is a subject of thought for most institutional executives. Employee participation is essential for companies to increase morale, excitement, and buy-in to their overall priorities, strategies, and policies (Maltseva, 2020). A successful employee engagement initiative would improve job efficiency and the company’s bottom line procedures. Over time, employee engagement has resulted in occupation participation concepts and perspectives (Rahman, Björk, & Ravald, 2020). Following Kahn’s concept, the aspects of cognitive and rational involvement have influenced work experiences and, therefore, performance (Vuong & Sid, 2020). Kahn defined the three key aspects of employee engagement in his research based on the following ideas.
Physical Engagement- This applies to how much time workers bring in, both rationally and sensitively, when they go through their work. According to Kahn (1990), employees have identified themselves as ‘walking around’ while at work and have recorded high personal involvement levels during that period. He related improved feelings of trust to the opportunity to spend physical and mental resources at work.
Cognitive Engagement- Employees must recognize their employer’s vision and strategies. The idea is to completely commit all the stages of success and the achievement, which is attributable to the effective participation of all the workers and any subordinate groups whose efforts are required for successful job evaluation (Khodakarami & Dirani, 2020). Therefore, gaining more expertise promotes more imagination and confident decision-making.
Emotional Engagement- This is focused on the social connection between workers and their employers (Farrukh et al., 2020). A decent engagement would necessitate the company to learn how to cultivate a sense of identity at work, enabling workers to trust and invest in the company’s ideals and purpose (Kerdpitak & Jermsittiparsert, 2020). Good organizational interactions, group dynamics, and management styles, according to Kahn, are examples of behaviors that help people feel safe and trusted.
Khan’s research linked three psychological conditions: Protection, purpose, and having adequate energy and resources to the three dimensions of interaction mentioned above. In essence, he felt that involving people across all three dimensions would make them feel confident in their positions, and think that their actions were worthwhile, thus making them believe that their physical and mental efforts would be encouraged (Khan, 1990). Managers used to assume that good results came from seeking the ‘best fit’ during recruiting processes and having the right benefits until Kahn implemented the idea of personal participation (Khan, 1990).
Employers should ensure that Kahn’s principles of employee engagement are put at the forefront. Meister and Willyerd (2021) supported Kahn’s statements about the correlation between interaction and his psychological conditions of protection, meaningfulness, energy, and resource availability. Furthermore, the research emphasizes satisfying the employees’ work that causes a stressful experience in an organization to ensure the attraction and the attention of the workers are directed towards organizational objectives (Dinh, 2020). In this regard, scholars have taken Kahn’s example and explored wider employee participation models. Such models have been adopted and implemented by several line managers in diverse work environments for effective business control.
Line Manager’s Implementation of the Engagement Strategies
Within an organization, leaders and managers are the key drivers of transformation. From the top-down of any employee, they set the tone for how communication is received (Delina, 2020). Company executives must choose between being ambassadors for the company’s priorities and mission. The decisions taken by management have a significant effect on the people around them. Since their staff looks up to them, their actions will affect the whole enterprise. As a result, it is up to administrators to be constructive role models in finding opportunities that involve their workers.
Employees are the energy that propels the business forward. Employees would be less interested in their work, less dedicated, and less loyal to the company whether they are disappointed or unhappy with how they are treated. However, if one looks after them, they will look after the firm. Good management is demonstrated in high levels of employee involvement (Diaz‐Carrion et al., 2020). A manager’s role is to establish the employees’ enthusiasm and maintain commitment, thus building effective motivation and engagement. A great manager must evaluate external conditions, build relationships, and inaugurate a corporate atmosphere in which workers are confident, valued, and expected to achieve their objectives. Here are several techniques that excellent superiors use to keep their workers engaged:
Communication as the base of culture- Employee interaction is better accomplished by administrators who use a mixture of face-to-face, computer programming, and electronic contact tracing. When workers call or send a message to their managers, committed employees say that their manager answers their call or message within 24 hours. As such, the belief in the managers promptly being at reach enables the employees to work extra hours to fulfill the company’s mandates.
Care on a personal level- Employees will quickly get disengaged if they don’t feel that they matter at work (Barreiro & Treglown, 2020). There are several easy ways employers can utilize to reward hardworking workers. For instance, saying a word like, “thank you” to an employee who works beyond and above is important to getting daily reviews and acknowledging a commitment to the organization.
Provide Opportunities- One should offer their workers chances to develop their soft and professional skills. Employees often want to learn new things that make them feel innovative (Alola & Alafeshat, 2020). The managers should enable workers to attend strategic sessions, introduce them to networking activities, and give them leadership opportunities to help the organization or company accomplish its objectives.
Employers can produce tangible benefits by monitoring staff motivation in real-time. This is essential to such activities as measuring finances and daily revenue in a company (Kwon & Kim, 2020). Here are the advantages of measuring employee engagement, equivalent to taking the company’s work atmosphere’s temperature.
- Helps in Solving Problems Before They Worsen
Problems such as the ones mentioned by the Staffordshire University staff can get big when they are let to. Measurement or revaluation of the existing engagement model helps in preventing such problems from going extreme.
- Employ Empathy and Build Trust
The building of empathy and trust amongst the employees requires management contribution. Employees and leaders alike deserve constant input to continue to evolve and develop (Ahmaed et al., 2020). Empathy and trust render input and contact, a two-way street, which naturally flows in a conversation and connection between the employer and the employee. Continuous, transparent input encourages leaders to ask better questions, especially about its mission and vision.
- Helps in building morale
Engage workers in constructive dialogue as they become disengaged. A quick check-in would indicate that an employer cares about their employees. This enables a greater understanding of the employee’s concerns and addresses the future of the company.
An Employee Engagement Survey
- What is your job role?
- What department do you work in?
- What challenges have you faced concerning the new normal?
- Are you pleased with the career advancement opportunities offered?
- Are there communication channels, and are they effective?
- What are the hinges caused in the management from the breakout of COVID-19?
In the current competitive world, universities and other organizations need to strive for hastening innovative activities which connect employee work-wellbeing and corporate performance. In the case of The University of Staffordshire staff during the challenging COVID-19 period, the present study has attempted to provide practical evidence about the need for employee engagement leading toward the overall performance and the mediation. The present study has protracted our awareness and understanding of how employees’ voices and participation in the decision-making process can be of value toward performance enhancement.
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