Employee Engagement is not Celebrations

 Haresh Chaturvedi

Vice – President HR

Reliance Industries Limited , Dahej


The buzz word the HR fraternity singing now a days is Employee Engagement. If you ask CEO’s or HR Heads about their priority list from employee perspective, invariably the response is Employee engagement, happy work place and so on. Probably, in this VUCA world, and ever changing business environment, organizations and the business leaders have realized importance of having engaged employee at work place. We spend half of our life at work, and if we ask, it’s a place we don’t enjoy.

Now if we look at the role of HR which is dynamic is neither to bring manpower to work place nor selecting the right candidate or keeping them busy. This all can be done by line managers. So the role of HR now is to BRING Employee every day to the work place. And that is ONLY possible if the employees are engaged.

The Engagement word in industries is still misunderstood. Happiness at work and employee engagement are more or less similar ideas, but the difference between them – a subtle difference in perspective- is critical to our way of thinking. If an organization is interested in employee engagement, it is from the perspective of how these is relates to better performance. For the employee, the advantage of engagement is its association with better experience. The distinction between these related concepts, have very different feel to them. If a managers are told to make their employees engaged it sounds like a command to drive higher performance out of them – almost like ‘sweating their assets’. If a manager is asked to create happy teams who love what they are doing- it’s more like they are being asked to ‘build their assets’. To an employee, engagement can feel like it’s about what your organization can ‘get out of you’. Happiness feels like it’s more concerned with what they are prepared to ‘give.’

Now, actually Employee engagement is Emotional commitment employee has with organization and its goal. Here the role of HR is very important to make employee get emotionally attached to the organization. There are various tools, various methods to enhance engagement and the scores and feel happy to know where our engagement needle is moving. There are many factor which can impact engagement positively or negatively. But let me put in simple form what I look the role of HR to keep workplace engaged or let employee feel they are connected emotionally with organization they are working with.

See when an employee comes to the work, he or she can think of either minimum they can get away with or maximum contribution he is capable of. The difference can be termed as engagement. And the capability is so elastic in nature that as you reach nearer you will be more capable to do. Hence the engaged workforce always tends to contribute more and more towards organizational goal.

I think HR has important role to play to keep employee engaged and help them to come to work place every day to contribute to the goal of the organization.

Feeling of Identity

Feeling of identity is important. But how to create this feeling? It’s not new today with industries. It is practice since ages and the key word to create feeling of identity is Physical work together. People working to gather physically gets bonding for the coworker. You must have observed Hindu temples are at the top of the hills – be it Badrinath, Kedarnath, Vaishno Devi or ….the reason is people should climb together. Which create a feeling that they belong to the same religious group, the identity.

From religion now look at the ARMY. The highest level of engagement is required in ARMY. In industry, if an employee work extra we say he is engaged, but in Army engagement means a soldier needs to risk his life. When an Army soldier gets order to go to fight with the enemy and capture the post, the soldier is well aware that the enemy is not standing with welcome kite and a rose in his hands. The enemy is also well equipped with the weapon better than what we have. Now look at the cost – Benefit: there are 50% – 50 % chances that the soldier capture the goal and as a result get promotion, and or medal and what if enemy bullet hits him and put his life to end? You can think it now…Then also each and every soldier is ready to go the border …. That is engagement.

To create this level of engagement, army use very interesting method. Most of the activities done in the army are in group like cutting grass, marching together, eating together, Living together, practicing together, moving from one post to other is in group. In organization we have ‘Officers Toilet and worker toilets , we have work canteen, officers canteen & VIP dining hall. Hence that does not create feeling of identity and feeling to work for group. We as HR should make people work in team and give a opportunity to employees interact from time to time to bring them on the common platform.

Best example of feeling important is of the housewife. We talk of bonded labour, has anyone seen labour more bonded than the housewife? One evening with some rituals, and taking few photographs, we bring her to the house and say THIS IS YOUR HOUSE, Your are laxmi of this house. Very silly but it works. In few days we see when she talk of MY HOUSE, she does not mean the house she had been for 24- 25 years, but the house she has been for last few days. And once she think that it is her house we don’t required any labour law (standing order, contract labour, factories act etc.,). She will be first to get up in the morning last to go to bed. No off day or holiday (on the contrary more work on such days). She take care of you, children, guest, and what not. She is enjoying feeling of importance.

Another example is of Mr. Laljibhai – a tea maker in the pantry of one of the company . He used to make a tea which everyone use to wait for . But as he used to stay away from office and hence was reporting late in the office. We tried a lot by counseling, giving warning, charge sheet etc. but no change. Ultimately we put a poster on the reception, having is caricature drawn with a message that “ laljibhia we all are waiting for your tea” that made him feel important and he started coming in time.

As a HR professional, it is our responsibility to create feeling among each and every person that the job they are doing is important and is contributing to the growth of the organization.

Opportunity for Growth The most of important factor of engagement is a feeling of growth. Youngsters today are very ambitious. They want to go right to the top. It doesn’t matter they don’t reach the top in this company, they would think of another company. To the extend they feel they are learning something, they are engaged and continue to work. Whenever they don’t see learning or growth, or feel stagnant, they are disengaged.

Just remember when you have a boss who says, Gentlemen, go and complete this assignment and if you have any problem, feel free to approach me. You will work for him endlessly as you feel you are developing yourself and feel engaged. Another boss you says, Gentlemen, we have assignment to do and if you have not did it before, I will do it myself or get it done by someone else, you do what you know. He will start looking at watch (DO Punch Ek Lunch). You feel stagnated and don’t see any learning. You must have come across third type of boss who say I know you know how to do this assignment but keep me in loop at each stage, I will verify and then move forward. You feel that you are not learning and your capabilities are detoriating day by day and feel totally disengaged. Employee under third type of boss start taking all kind of leave and may ENJOY SICK LEAVE also.

Hence, to keep employee engaged, as an HR professional we need to play a vital role, by ensuring that each and every individual has got productive work for which he is hired, to get that work

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