Leveraging Employee Engagement For Competitive Advantage

5787 words - 23 pages

IntroductionEmployee engagement is a key business driver for organizational success. High levels of engagement in domestic and global firms promote retention of talent, foster customer loyalty and improve organizational performance and stakeholder value. A complex concept, engagement is influenced by many factors--from workplace culture, organizational communication and managerial styles to trust and respect, leadership and company reputation. For today's different generations, access to training and career opportunities, work/life balance and empowerment to make decisions are important. Thus, to foster a culture of engagement, HR leads the way to design, measure and evaluate proactive workplace policies and practices that help attract and retain talent with skills and competencies necessary for growth and sustainability."The challenge today is not just retaining talented people, but fully engaging them, capturing their minds and hearts at each stage of their work lives."( n1)Employee engagement has emerged as a critical driver of business success in today's competitive marketplace. Further, employee engagement can be a deciding factor in organizational success. Not only does engagement have the potential to significantly affect employee retention, productivity and loyalty, it is also a key link to customer satisfaction, company reputation and overall stakeholder value. Thus, to gain a competitive edge, organizations are turning to HR to set the agenda for employee engagement and commitment.Employee engagement is defined as "the extent to which employees commit to something or someone in their organization, how hard they work and how long they stay as a result of that commitment."( n2) Research shows that the connection between an employee's job and organizational strategy, including understanding how important the job is to the firm's success, is the most important driver of employee engagement. In fact, employees with the highest levels of commitment perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave the organization, which indicates that engagement is linked to organizational performance.( n3) In contrast, job satisfaction--a term sometimes used interchangeably with employee engagement--is defined as how an employee feels about his or her job, work environment, pay, benefits, etc.( n4)Employee engagement is a complex concept, with many issues influencing engagement levels. Consequently, there are many pathways to foster engagement, with no one 'kit' that fits all organizations. While each company may define employee engagement differently, ultimately, the key to effective engagement will be rooted in the flexibility of approach most appropriate for each individual firm. For example, the company may consider a 'best practice' and then determine the likely outcome of this practice in its workplace. This Research Quarterly is written to provide HR professionals and other business leaders with the knowledge and understanding of the many concepts...

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