Technological advancement and the changing world of work have brought new challenges to employers with regard to employee engagement. It is no longer enough for employees to be present at work for long hours unless they are actively engaged in what they are doing.
More often than not, employers tend to be frustrated with employees who do not deliver according to their expectations. Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals.
The Employer of the Year Award Survey that was conducted by the Federation of Uganda Employers in partnership with Makerere University revealed that only 49% of the employees are highly engaged and they exhibit strong emotional and rational engagement, 6% are disengaged and 45% are moderately engaged.
The combined percentage of those who are disengaged and moderately engaged (in total 51%) implies that majority of the organisations in Uganda have employee engagement challenges. Therefore, it is important for organisations to work towards increasing the level of employee engagement.
It is important for organisations to regularly conduct surveys in order to assess the level of employee engagement so as to develop appropriate remedial interventions in case there are some gaps which are identified or to enhance good traits which have been observed.
There are various causes of employee disengagement and they include limited understanding of the business, low pay, irregular pay and limited opportunities for growth for employees. Some of the interventions that could be used by employers to raise the level of employee engagement include the following:
- Management needs to communicate clearly to the employees the vision of the organisation and how they stand to benefi t from it. A clear vision provides the necessary impetus for employees to be committed to specifi c goals that need to be achieved by the organisation. It also helps to provide an identity for the organisation, which is important for creating an emotional connection.
- Specific attention should also be devoted towards helping all employees to fully understand the work of the organisation. Therefore, an extensive explanation of the business of the organisation is vital. Interventions such as knowledge days are extremely important in providing the opportunity for staff to share about the work of the organisation, so that their colleagues can learn from them. It is not just about disseminating facts, it is also about providing context and understanding about the reasons why the organisation does certain things.
- The work of each employee needs to be continuously reviewed to ensure that it provides the right level of challenge and limits burnout. Some employees might feel bored if work is not as engaging as expected.
- It is often said that if the employer pretends to pay, the employees also pretend to work, so it is important to set the right level of pay in comparison to what is on offer within a given industry. Thus, employers need to benchmark with their peers in order to ensure that they pay at the right level. In addition, employers need to find other innovative ways to reward good performance and to punish poor performance. Disengagement can set in if employees who are committed are treated the same way as those who are not.
- Managers should walk the talk. There is no better way to lead than to lead by example. The level of energy and commitment exhibited by the management is soon reflected among the employers. It is not possible for managers to be disengaged while the rest of the employees are engaged.
- There should be opportunities for employees to offer feedback about the operations of the organisation. Employees should also be able to receive career advice. Both the employer and the employees stand to benefi t from a high level of engagement. In essence, employers should seek to increase the proportion of employees who are willing to freely give their discretionary effort.
The writer is the
Federation of Uganda Employers