By Marcia Rhodes, PR Manager, WorldatWork
What is employee engagement? It’s often confused with employee satisfaction; it isn’t just low turnover, nor is it simply high employee productivity. Employee engagement is larger and deeper than all that. It’s the employer-employee exchange relationship at its best. This exchange relationship used to be based primarily on pay but it has evolved to encompass other elements of rewards including benefits, work-life balance, recognition, and career development – a management approach often referred to as “total rewards.”
One of the many challenges employers face as the economy recovers is how to re-engage employees when morale is low, budgets are tight and financial rewards are limited. According to WorldatWork, a global human resources association based in Scottsdale, Ariz., businesses must think in terms of total rewards and not just financial rewards if they are to enhance employee engagement, i.e., workers’ psychological investment in their organizations evidenced by high levels of employee involvement, commitment to the organization and discretionary effort.
Why should employers be concerned about employee engagement or lack thereof? It turns out that employees don’t just work for a paycheck anymore – they want to work on cool and interesting projects, learn from smart people, have fun while at work, engage in social networks, volunteer for a cause they believe in, receive praise and recognition, and enjoy work-life balance at home and at work. To be able to do all these, employees are looking for more time off, autonomy, flexibility and support. Studies have also confirmed that quality of leadership has an especially profound impact on employee engagement and motivation.
Let’s face it: no matter what the state of the economy, employers have to develop competitive and effective reward packages. And what is considered competitive and effective changes over time. Enlightened employers skillfully adapt, reflect and respond to the changing needs of their workers.
The new employment deal is quite simple: Organizations invest in creating the conditions that make work meaningful and rewarding for employees. In the absence of monetary incentives, they explore non-cash and intangible incentives that employees value in order to retain and motivate them. In exchange, employees invest more effort in their work and deliver superior performance. This optimal give-and-take relationship creates a highly desirable ingredient necessary for sustainable economic recovery: employee engagement.
About the author:
Marcia Rhodes is Manager of Public Relations for WorldatWork. She is a member of the judging committee for Arizona’s Most Admired Companies awards program as well as Top Workplaces for Women in the Valley.