Well begun half done in the corporate world

Engaging Workers

Well begun half done in the corporate world


Numerous surveys and studies have revealed that organisations which can get their employees truly engaged are the ones who can achieve their business goals effectively. Research findings add further that higher the employee engagement level in an organisation, higher its productivity and profitability. These findings are also supported by the world class research organisations like Gallup, Blessing White, Towers Perrin,   Corporate Leadership Council etc.

 It is always the highly engaged employee who walks that extra mile to delight the customers. No wonder, high performing organisations constantly endeavor to enhance the level of employee engagement. One would therefore agree that employee engagement is not just another passing management fad. It has emerged as one of the most crucial aspects of human resource management, contributing to organisational performance.

In a world wide study conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council, spanning over   four years, covering more than 1,00,000  employees,  it was found that while  employees join organisations for rational motives such as  better compensation, benefits and career opportunities, it is actually the emotional motives that make them stick to the organisations and work hard. In other words, it is the emotional connection an employee feels for his organisation that makes him stay there and work with passion and commitment. In simpler terms, it is about building relationships with people at work place, based on trust and confidence. To quote the Gallup experts, it is “capturing the hearts and minds” of employees at the workplace. 

Building a strong and lasting emotional bond between the employees and the organisations should, therefore, be on top of the HR agenda, across the industries. This is easier said than done. In the present economic scenario where uncertainties thrive and corporate priorities get shifted, it is usual that HR initiatives take a back seat to more pressing business issues.

Needless to say, therefore, only if the top management views employee engagement as a HR initiative having critical relevance to business, always and ever, and involve themselves with all earnestness, one can hope to succeed in this endeavor.

According to the BW- HR Anexi Blessing White Survey, 2008 on employee engagement,   Indian workers are the most focussed and satisfied in the world. Also, a little over one third of the Indian employees are found to be “fully engaged” which again is a positive sign. No doubt, these findings are highly gratifying .But, all said and done, all is not well on the HR front for the corporate India, as a whole. Various management surveys and studies tell us a different story. A sizeable chunk of the Indian managers particularly from the government as well as the public sector and, of course, quite a few, from the private sector as well, are rather incapable of understanding themselves and others. They are neither aware of others’ feelings and emotions nor are they concerned.  Ironically, most of them do possess high levels of job related skills and other managerial skills.  Despite their brilliance and functional expertise, they fail miserably as managers for the simple reason that they are unable to build relationships with the people they work with.

These study reports also reveal that most of the middle level managers in India are too familiar about the concept of emotional intelligence and are even fairly thorough about its key role in organisational performance. So, it is not that they are unaware of these work life dimensions and its implications. It is the same old story of “laid back attitude”.

Professional management

Again, every professionally managed organisation does provide regular training exposure to their managers on social and behavioral aspects of work life. So much so, there has been a growing awareness, at least among the modern managers that their effectiveness depends largely   on their EQ and not just IQ.

Yet, concernedly enough, often,  it is the darker side of a manager’s personality becomes apparently visible in his day to day approach in dealing with people. What is more appalling is there are a few, who even find pleasure in abusing, threatening and humiliating people, as a routine work place behavior. It would not be out of place to quote what Gary Hamel had expressed recently in this regard. He said “most managers are more likely to douse the flames of employee enthusiasm than fan them, and are more likely to frustrate extra ordinary accomplishment than to foster”. Clearly, the managers, particularly the line managers can   exercise far reaching influence either in making emotional connection or even creating emotional disconnection with employees.

In fact, the organisational culture finds its expression through the day today managerial behavior, be it the line managers or the managers at any other levels.  One would therefore, agree that the first and foremost step to increase the employee engagement level in organisations is to target the middle level managers first and bring about a right attitudinal reorientation in them. If this is done, half the battle is won! Or should we say “well begun is half done”.

(The writer is Former Assistant General Manager (HR), Corporation Bank and presently the Vice Principal of INC, Mangalore.)

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