Whenever an organization is expanding and looking at onboarding new talent, one question generally revolves around, “Who will be responsible for employee engagement”? If you are honest to yourself, the first instinct is to blurt out, the HR, obviously. Well, that might have been the case when employee engagement strategy was merely a tick in the box. Fortunately, today, organizations understand the value of having a comprehensive employee engagement strategy and execution plan. As organizations acknowledge the importance of employee engagement, clarity on a collective responsibility is coming to the forefront.
Employee engagement strategy: All in it together
Undoubtedly, the trend of employee engagement strategy is towards a collective responsibility. While this was in the making for a few years, the uncertainty and ambiguity accompanying the sudden shift to remote work have accelerated the process. There are four major stakeholders across different organizational levels that contribute towards building an effective employee engagement strategy.
Leaders set the tone
It is the senior leaders of the organization, especially CEO and the like, who can set the precedence for an effective employee engagement strategy. As decision makers, they can influence the whole organizational culture and establish the need for employee engagement. At the same time, as they understand the organizational goals and values the most, they are best suited to craft long term employee engagement strategy with a clear vision. Seniors leaders must seek to promote greater transparency in the organization with open communication, large scale updates and a genuine concern towards employee wellbeing, especially in unprecedented circumstances like what we are facing now.
People officers build the ground
While senior leaders can kickstart and give direct to the employee engagement strategy, it would be unfair to expect them to execute each and every action item on the list. This is where people officers, more commonly known as HR professionals step in. They are more or less responsible to facilitate and execute the strategy in place via appreciation and recognition initiatives, team bonding activities, among others. It is on them to gauge the employee's pulse and understand what different teams need. They are like a link between the employees and senior leadership. On the one hand, they create a skeletal structure for an effective employee engagement strategy by collating employee expectations for leaders to work on. On the other, they implement the strategy once it's ready by ideating and executing different initiatives to achieve the strategy goals.
Managers facilitate the way
Next in line are the managers and their responsibility towards the employee engagement strategy. It is managers who are in constant touch with their teams and employees. Regular meetings, steady interactions, among others, make managers well suited to advocate employee engagement. While HR professionals might use tools and other methods to gauge employee pulse, managers have direct access to such information as they are in routine communication. According to a study by Gallup, managers account for 70% of variance in engagement across business units. To promote employee engagement, managers should start with building strong relationships with each employee. At the same time, motivating and inspiring employees alongside appreciating and recognizing deserving performances can go a long way.
Employees take the leap
Finally, it is employees themselves who need to actively participate in employee engagement practices to make them really work. This has multiple facets to it. Firstly, employees need to be a part of the activities and initiatives put forward by the organization. Without their participation, these activities make no sense. Secondly, employees must as recipients communicate to the above three stakeholders on what is working and what is not, in the form of constant feedback. Thirdly, employees must be vocal about their personal and professional goals and what kind of practices they value. They can collaborate with all the other stakeholders to translate their expectations into an effective employee engagement strategy.
Changing nature of work: Reinventing responsibilities
It is no surprise that the nature of work has undergone a complete transformation in the face of Covid-19. While organizations are taking various steps to embrace the new normal in terms of business continuity, it is very important to adopt a collaborative approach and assume collective responsibility for employee engagement. Managers, who were conventionally, out of this engagement strategy loop, need to step up their efforts as they are the main point of contact today. In fact, effective engagement today heavily depends on managers' efforts and inputs and how well they are able to motivate, inspire, persuade and influence their teams.
Leaders give the necessary direction to employee engagement which then comes into an actionable structure with the efforts of HR professionals. Finally, it is the line managers who actually become responsible for smooth execution and the onus of active participation falls on the employees. Thus, every part of the organization needs to come together to work like a well oiled machine and translate engagement into performance and productivity.