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Saturday, 24th February 2024


This is an excellent article on employee engagement in the Harvard Business Review. It claims that in spite of the evidence that performance is highest in companies that are most engaged, only 20% of all employees feel that they are engaged in the companies where they work. There is a list of best practices in employee engagement, which centres around the values of dignity, respect, caring and sharing - salary and financial rewards are not the only way to engage employees - in fact, they often fail in doing so if they are the sole reward mechanism.

There is no specific mention of diversity in the article, which is a shame, but it is clear that the inner world of the organisation should reflect the outer world of its customers, suppliers and community. The more disjointed it is, the more disengaged it will become from wider society. In this area, Britain has a lot of work to do as research shows that most organisations and employers are not ethnically diverse (especially at management levels), nor do they have cultures which make ethnic minorities feel welcome or included. Also, I believe that diversity within an organisation helps significantly with employee engagement as it roots out mono-cultural thinking and bias, and allows everyone to have individual beliefs, opinions and to feel that they are contributing to the overall culture and ethos of the organisation. It adds to the variety and the creativity, and increases the engagement.

What the article is also saying is that organisations should be active and responsible citizens of the global community, and cannot just think 'not my problem'. They need to employ disabled and disadvantaged people and give work chances to those who are completely marginalised from society. This will set a great example, and also increase employee engagement.

The article higlights the importance of setting good examples, and leadership through good character and conduct. Employee engagement is not about spin and image, but about truth, values and commitment. Interestingly, the article says little about profit maximisation and the key focus on financial performance which economics textbooks emphasise. Clearly to engage employees, organisations will need to be more socially and environmentally responsible and accountable.

Article added on 20th September 2011 at 8:29am