Employee engagement, at its core, is designed to create and maintain positive relationships between an organization and its workers. Employee engagement promotes commitment, loyalty, and a willingness to contribute to organizational success. Workforce experts like Anthony Fallahi, based in Dallas, TX, know that for a culture of engagement to take root, efforts must align with the organization’s goals and values. “In a lean labor market, employers are compelled to put more into recruitment and retention. Conventional wisdom is that people come for the money and stay for the culture. Increasingly job seekers are now looking at work-life balance, mission statements, ESG scores and, yes, the culture between the walls, before signing an offer,” said Fallahi. There are many ways to go about engaging employees, not all equally effective. This post will examine three of the most crucial employee engagement models and their efficacy.
The Four-Factor Model of Employee Engagement
Anthony Fallahi says The Four-Factor Model of Employee Engagement has been developed to help organizations better prioritize workplace aspects that generate employee engagement. The model suggests that four key factors contribute to engaged teams: meaningful work, positive relationships, a sense of progress, and a sense of purpose. When all four of these factors are present, employees are more likely to be engaged in their work and perform at a higher level. Likewise, when any are absent, employees are more likely to become disengaged. The Four-Factor Model provides a straightforward framework for understanding and managing employee engagement.
The first factor, meaningful work, refers to the idea that employees need to feel like their job is purposeful and that it contributes to something larger than themselves. Employees who believe their work is meaningful are more likely to engage in it.
Positive relationships refer to the importance of having uplifting workplace associations with co-workers, vendors, customers, and, most critically, supervisors. This includes instilling a culture of self-empowerment and creating safe environments in which employees will feel comfortable enough to extend themselves. “People need to know that it is okay to fail, or you will have zero innovation and creativity. No one wants to work in that type of environment.”
A Sense of Progress
The third factor, a sense of progress, refers to the idea that employees need to feel like they are making progress in their work. Crucial to this effort is instilling procedural transparency in the way that employees are assessed and rewarded. “Your workers need to feel involved in the assessment process and see clear relationships between established metrics and advancement potential,” stated Fallahi.
A Sense of Purpose
Finally, the fourth factor, a sense of purpose, refers to the idea that employees must feel like they are working towards something larger than themselves. “Creating a sustainable business mindset in which the organization shifts from ‘profit with harm minimization’ to ‘profit and greater good maximization’ has proven to bear fruit in many ways, not the least of which is giving your employees something to rally around.”
Overall, the Four-Factor Model provides a valuable framework for understanding what leads to employee engagement. By identifying the four factors that contribute to employee engagement, organizations can take steps to instill a culture of enthusiasm and inclusivity.
The Kahn Model
Organizational psychologist William Kahn was one of the first researchers to identify the concept of employee engagement. Kahn explored the physical, cognitive, and emotional dimensions of employee engagement and identified three psychological conditions that enable engagement to thrive: meaningfulness, safety, and availability.
Do employees find meaning in their day-to-day tasks?
Do workers feel safe to express opinions and be themselves without the fear of negative consequences?
Do teams have the right tools and resources to tap into their full potential mentally and physically?
Anthony Fallahi suggests that this model served an important step in the evolution of employee engagement: “Kahn’s work was among the first to focus on employee feelings, rather than thoughts or perceptions, in order to foster engagement.”
The AON Hewitt Model
Most employee engagement models focus on the inputs needed to drive desired results. The AON Hewitt model is unique in that it is structured around the outputs, or ‘engagement outcomes’ that organizations should aspire to create: say, stay, and strive.
Engaged employees, like delighted customers, will act as brand ambassadors. Their passion and loyalty to the organization is self-evident by what they say and how they act, both internally and externally.
Turnover is an obvious performance indicator of employee engagement, and a costly one for companies that do not manage their cultures carefully. Rising employee tenure is a strong indicator that employees are getting out of their work than just a paycheck.
High levels of engagement will manifest in the level of effort that your workforce is willing to give to contribute to broad organizational goals. Productivity, creativity, and work quality all increase when employees feel invested in their company.
Leaders are tasked with focusing on six drivers to achieve these engagement outcomes: basic needs, company practices, the work, brand, leadership, and performance reviews.
Employees have foundational expectations of their employer that evolve over time. Increasingly, work-life balance and wellness support are looked at as essential by workers.
Day-to-day operations, resources, processes, and procedures need to cultivate a sense of connectivity among employees and, most of all, make sense to end users. “If your people don’t have the tools they need to be successful, it won’t matter if they believe in the mission. They are going to burn out,” observed Fallahi.
Employees need to feel challenged and see opportunities for continued growth in order to stay connected to the goals of the organization.
Leaders are well advised to invest in creating a brand that employees can feel proud to be associated with. Younger employees, in particular, rank organizational brand high on their list of criteria for future employers.
Workers want to see actions that mirror words in terms of organizational culture and the company’s mission.
Appropriate recognition and reward structures are essential to maintaining an engaged workforce. Workers need to know that their contributions matter.
“Its no secret that employee engagement has declined over the last several years,” remarked Anthony Fallahi. A recent Gallup report showed that 63% of employees worldwide report feeling disengaged and less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes. ‘Quiet quitting’ has become a major issue. Even more alarming, 24% of employees are actively disengaged – leading to turnover, productivity loss, and worse.”
Organizations must understand that employee engagement is critical in determining employee performance. “Companies are now more adept at serving their customers than ever before. The most successful realize that they need to invest in treating their employees as well as their customers to develop an engaged and enthused workforce.” By understanding the different models of employee engagement, listening to workers, and implementing an approach based on employee feedback, organizations can take steps to ensure that all employees are engaged in their work.
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