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The more engaged you are in your job, the happier and more productive you prove to be. That means your employer can reap the benefits of your engagement – more profits!
It is thus no wonder that bosses want to keep their highly engaged employees forever and a day if they can.
How engaged is the SA workforce this year? This is what independent HR consultancy The Human Resource Practice is setting out to discover with its latest Employee Engagement South Africa (EESA) survey.
“It is crucial for companies to know how engaged their employees are so that they can take action,” says Alexis Assimacopoulos of The Human Resource Practice.
“This action could be to reward the highly engaged, to let go some of the worst disengaged employees, to recruit new employees and/or improve the things that make employees stay engaged in their jobs.
“Whatever the case, no organisation can afford to ignore the levels of engagement of its workforce because that would mean ignoring its levels of productivity and profit.”
To explain employee engagement – the measure of employees’ connectedness and involvement in their jobs – Assimacopoulos refers to the animal world where insects like bees and ants are well known to be, well, the most engaged workers.
Like bees in a hive, the worker can be seen as a significant part of a larger microcosm. However, the constant buzzing and emphasis on the greater collective can sometimes overwhelm the individual, resulting in the worker feeling inferior, unappreciated and disconnected.
On Insect Planet, the other bees would either ignore, attack or alienate the worker. However, the difference between bees and humans from a social aspect, is that bees have set parameters for performance – they fit into one of a few designated categories like drone, worker, or queen, for example. Each must perform their particular job or be replaced by one of the innumerable masses that will.
Humans, however, are able to adapt to their environment more readily, evidenced by the trained social anthropologist writing a piece on corporate engagement.
“Given the current economic climate, it is not hard to imagine how some people feel like drones in their work situation, an entity disengaged by the cultural whole,” Assimacopoulos comments.
“Engaged workers are productive workers and they stay. If people are engaged, they will use initiative.
“If they use initiative, they can boost performance. If performance improves, profits can increase and the company’s overall purpose can be achieved faster and more effectively.”
For years the corporate structure has relied on supervisors to keep employees engaged. Keeping to the Insect Planet metaphor, supervisors are the honey that keeps the beehive intact. If the honey “doesn’t gel” (job/organisational engagement) the whole complex system falls apart. Inversely, if there isn’t enough sweetness (personal attributes and effort) in the honey, it is just wax and will deter the workers from performing as well.
“If the corporate world wishes to retain its productive employees, it will need to maintain its emphasis on keeping them engaged, and finding the delicate balance between honey and wax, so to speak.”
In 2010, The Human Resource Practice’s EESA survey revealed some startling findings about talent management in the SA context.
The most significant finding was that supervisors, the so-called front line of employee engagement, were themselves disengaged.
In the 2010 EESA survey, The Human Resource Practice found that more than 70 percent of all surveyed supervisors felt disenfranchised, in other words; they were dissatisfied with their position in the company.
Even financial compensation for supervisors was of little benefit, as 79 percent of those surveyed felt unsatisfied with their financial rewards and prospects for growth.
As a result of this disengagement, 40-68 percent of all employees across several business sectors in the EESA survey felt they weren’t getting adequate feedback from their supervisors.
This gap between employees and their supervision shows a startling implication for business in SA as a whole, both in terms of engagement and communication.
“With such a significant disconnect in the corporate hive, with the drones (workers) cut off from the queen (top management) this could have a tremendous impact on the productivity in South African industry,” Assimacopoulos says.
The Human Resource Practice will begin conducting research for the 2012 EESA survey next month.
Should any enterprise wish to participate, either as an individual or an organisation, or purchase a customised report from this research, call Assimacopoulos at 083 607 1134, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the company’s website at www.hrpractice.co.za