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Understanding Employee Engagement

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement has become a real area of focus for organisations in recent years and has made many organisations look much more closely at their own management practices. ‘Employee Engagement’ as we know it today actually encompasses lots of other concepts which have been more widely known for a lot longer, such as motivation and commitment. Employee engagement puts its emphasis on the well-being and performance and, as such, offers gains for both the employee and employer as it seeks an outcome that’s best for the interests of both the person and the organisation.

Employee engagement as we know it now is still relatively new and very broad. Successfully fostering employee engagement requires all areas of the organisation working together and although HR departments will usually lead initiatives and campaigns, it requires all levels of business leaders to pay attention to:

  • Empowering employees to make decisions and shape their jobs to ensure success
  • Effective channels for employee voice and ways of managing feedback and improvement
  • Fair treatment of employees and support for their general well-being
  • Communications to keep employees informed, and to reinforce the purpose and vision

Employee engagement has become more and more mainstream over recent years and actually encompasses years of research into work motivation and employee behaviour. Utrecht University measures ‘work engagement’ as having three key elements:

Vigour – energy, resilience and effort
Dedication – for example, enthusiasm, inspiration and pride
Absorption – concentration and being engrossed in one’s work

Another, wider-view developed by the Kingston Business School then identified that an engaged workforce has three dimensions:

Intellectual Engagement – thinking hard about the job and how to do it better
Affective Engagement – feeling positive about doing a good job
Social Engagement – actively taking opportunities to discuss work-related improvements with others at work

So in the broadest terms, employee engagement brings together a range of established concepts, including job satisfaction, motivation, work effort, organisational commitment, shared purpose, energy and ‘flow’. It describes an internal state of being – both physical, mental and emotional – but can also include behaviours, such as commitment and willingness to ‘go the extra mile’.

However, narrower, more specific definitions of employee engagement can be more helpful, in particular when it comes to measuring and understanding it in organisational settings.

Employee Engagement - Team Communication - Clarity Visual ManagementHow does employee engagement benefit your workplace?

There’s a relatively simple answer to this, employers benefit from an engaged workforce because, as well as being happier, healthier and more fulfilled, they are more motivated and deliver improved business performance.  Research has repeatedly pointed to a relationship between how people are managed, their attitudes and behaviour, and business performance. Positive relationships are evidenced with profit, revenue growth, customer satisfaction, productivity, innovation, staff retention, efficiency and health and safety performance.

Conversely, having a disengaged workforce brings huge risks. As well as losses in performance, employers may lose talented people if they feel demotivated or disengaged. They may also face greater difficulties when embedding organisational change if employees are not on board so wider alignment with strategy and engagement with the organisation is also important.

Building an engaged and motivated workforce…

When we talk about ‘building’ an engaged workplace it’s about having the right environment and there are four ‘fundamentals’ which are at the heart of any employee engaged strategy:

  • Leadership that gives a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going
  • Line managers who motivate, empower and support their employees
  • Employee voice throughout the organisation, to challenge or reinforce the status quo and involve employees in decision making
  • Transparency between all levels of the team engenders trust, breaks down barriers and promotes openness and a willingness to discuss areas for improvement
  • Organisational integrity’: stated values that are embedded into the organisational culture; what we say is what we do

Employee Engagement - Visual Management Rev Counter - Clarity Visual Management

Using visual management to engage your employees

Network Rail Team Meeting - Visual Management Control Room - Clarity Visual Management

Visual management plays a huge part in getting a high level of employee engagement, it has the power to change the whole atmosphere of the workplace. Not only does high-performing visual management provide clear, transparent information in the same way to all, it also creates a professional image which the team are proud to be a part of.

For example, it is pleasantly surprising to those unfamiliar with it what a huge impact a well executed 5S scheme has on employee engagement and the whole culture in a workplace. It promotes a sense of calm, of professionalism, and of a caring, and safe environment. Visual management is key to this and Shadow Boards, Cleaning Stations, carefully marked locations…etc., all lead to a smarter, safer workplace and consequently a happier, more engaged team.

To achieve the best levels of employee engagement, visual management must be a two-way exercise with the opportunity to communicate both up and down all tiers of the team. Employee suggestion boards, Kaizen ideas boards, visual pulse surveys, etc are all excellent tools for employee engagement.

What visual management can do is:

  • Show the team the current status of work, telling them that their work matters to the bigger picture
  • Empower a sense of ownership and make the team accountable for their work
  • Encourage communication between team members, managers and other teams about the current state of work

Are you ready for your business to engage employees and ultimately get from your teams? Clarity Visual Management is here to help!

Employee Engagement With Effective Visual Management - Clarity Visual Management

Clarity Visual Management, making Lean work…

Here at Clarity Visual Management, we consult with clients both far and wide about how they can use visual management to achieve their goals, exceed their targets and make financial savings which would otherwise be lost to waste. We work with our clients to create a bespoke strategy that ensures visual management is set up for success before providing specific, high-quality Lean products to sustain the visual management programme and make Lean work in the organisation long-term.

You can read more about the work we’ve undertaken with our clients by browsing through our Visual Management Case Studies.

Download our ‘Introduction to Clarity Visual Management’ if you’re unfamiliar with Clarity and want to learn a little more about our products and services.

Download Your Guide Here

Further reading on the Clarity Blog: