Blog | 07.01.2015

Employee Engagement is a Choice of Employees

Don’t let the title of the article surprise you. I was reading this article by Gallup which pointed out that only 13% of the workers worldwide are engaged in their jobs. Now this is definitely a number to worry about. This means that 87% employees are not engaged and non-engaged employees can’t be productive so this also means that the non-engaged employees are hampering your company growth.

It’s not that organizations are not aware of this problem. Worldwide, organizations, managers and leaders have been implementing various strategies and workplace initiatives to increase their employee engagement but one thing which Gallup points out is that unless employees assume some measure of responsibility for their own engagement, the efforts by the organizations are not going to be fruitful.

Does this mean that there is very little in the hands of the organization? Not really. Let’s look at the Gallup survey. With its Q12 employee engagement survey, Gallup measures the employee engagement based on the degree to which employees are engaged with their work and workplace. Here are the 12 questions in the survey –

We all would possibly agree that these questions are simple and we already know the answers, but I feel that the answers to these questions cannot be based on intuition or gut feeling. I believe that employees should get concrete data and statistics to be able to make certain calls about their engagement with the workplace.

Let’s look at some of these questions

Q02 states that: “I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.”

Suppose you choose to work from home because of heavy snow fall. While the connectivity with work computer and servers is given, you will need some way of keeping track of your time as to how much time is really spent on work and what is accomplished. You would like to share this information with your manager.

Q03 states that: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”

Suppose you are a QA engineer whose definition of “best work” is writing really good test cases. But imagine that you look back on how you spent your time in the day and realize that you have spent 6 hours of your day in team meetings and reporting, then it is not going to give you a great feeling about your work day. You might end up feeling that you have not accomplished anything fruitful in the day. It is important to see this information every day – so as to be able to see trends.

Q09 states that: “My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.”

When you are working in a team, there needs to be complete transparency and communication among the team members. There is also respect for each other’s time. I have seen that the most productive teams spend very little time on meetings, respect the privacy and work of fellow team members and do things like follow silent zones (when everyone is allowed to mindfully work on their core tasks).  I, as someone filling out the survey, would love to see tangible data on all such points.

While I will not go into each question, it is increasingly clear that engagement at workplace is a choice and while employees know and understand when they feel engaged with their workplace, it is more of a gut feeling.

What if the employees are empowered with real data and numbers – data about how they spent their time, what work they managed to complete, how much time they spent on core activities, did they take any short breaks during the day, could they give time to some personal tasks, how much time they spent on meetings and non-core activities and so on.

A dashboard of all such information can be an eye-opener. A mirror of your day giving a clear idea on where actually your time went will be able to achieve quite a bit – you will be able to analyze your own work pattern, you will know what changes you need to bring in to your day to help you achieve more, you will know what causes stress to you and how you can tackle that, and you will know which positive habits you need to cultivate to reclaim your time. Time Management software or time sheets don’t necessarily provide all such insights because effective time management goes much beyond simple time tracking.