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Critically discuss the effective management of employee engagement.

Introduction
An employees psychological identification with the organisation is evolving, driven by the pace
of the digital revolution and ever-changing global economy, in the emergence of the new
century. This has profound implications on effective management of employee engagement
which would be discussed in further detail in this following report.
There have been a growing interest in the study of employee engagement (Saks 2006, 600;
Bates 2004; Harter, Frank and Theodore 2002, 268) which could be described as the degree of
emotional attachment; passion and enthusiasm an employee have towards their work and
organisation (Vance 2006, 3; McShane and Travaglione 2007, 36).
It has been suggested that employee engagement would increase the companys turnover rate
with the improvement in the productivity of staff which operate operational efficiencies (Vance
2006, 1; Saks 2006, 615; Luthans and Suzanne 2002, 376; Devi 2009, 3; MacLeod and Nita
2009, 7) and several reasons in which a highly engaged worker have an overall elevated
performance in comparison to that of a disengaged one (Bakker and Evangelia 2008, 215) are
optimistic emotions, enhanced wellbeing (Bakker and Evangelia 2008, 215), a sense of
accomplishment and reduced absentee (Saks 2006, 604).
Despite the importance of it, many organisations have either blindly embraced the concept of
employee engagement without truly understanding the importance and what it meant (Vance
2006, 1; McShane and Travaglione 2007, 39) or do not fully engage their staff (Richman
2006, 36).
In fact, a survey done by the Trade Union Progress discovered one in three employees do not feel
completely engage in the organisation they belong to and more than half felt that their employee
had deserved loyalty (Fieldhouse 2009, 6-7). While another survey from UK shown that only
17% are truly engaged and 20% are disengaged, implying that they have mentally quit (Pech
and Bret 2006, 21).

Antecedents and Decedents


According to Saks (2006, 604), although antecedents of employee engagement would diverge
from job to job, there are several similar key components that could be examined across the
different professions. This includes job characteristics, perceived organisation support, perceived
supervisor support, expectation of reciprocation and acknowledgment, procedural justice and
distributive justice (Saks 2006, 604; Vance 2006, 4). It also could be viewed as the commitment
pyramid of threshold factors, enabler and commitment drivers (Richman 2006, 38).
Under job characteristic, feedback and autonomy which refer to feeling of volition, choice, and
self-directness relates negatively to burnout (Saks 2006, 604, Lonsdale, Hodge and Rose 2009,
785). Both perceived organisation and supervisor support would involve psychological safety
and social support (Saks 2006, 605) whereas, distributive and procedural justice narrates the
fairness and equality involving predictable social circumstances (Saks 2006, 605).
These drivers would positively lead to employee engagement (Vance 2006, 6) and subsequentially contribute to factors such as satisfaction in occupation and employer, intention to
remain the company, effort and performance, loyalty to the organisation and organization
citizenship (Saks 2006, 604; Vance 2006, 6).
It could be seen as an undeniable fact that employee engagement plays an important role in
bringing about an effective, productive workforce and beneficiary outcomes, no matter the
environment (Vance 2006, 28; Devi 2009, 4; Luthans and Suzanne 2002, 379-380).
Effective management
However, issues such as the global financial crisis leading to restructuring of organisation,
technological advancement, differing psychology and attitudes of generations have resulted in a
change in organisation culture (Twenge and Stacy 2008, 862). Futhermore, research has also
indicated that the dramatic changes in the world economy over the recent years have a significant
effect on the relationship in the reciprocity of engagement and commitment between a company
and its employees (Vance 2006, 4-5; Saks 2006, 600; Bates 2004, Miles 2001, 313).

One obvious example of this is the younger generations repute as freeters or job-hoppers
denouncing the degree of job security with loyalty to organisation due to the major layoffs
during turbulent periods (Twenge and Stacy 2008, 869; McShane and Travaglione 2007, 122).
This could also be ascertained from the major retrenchment in the recent Global Financial Crisis
(GFC) and the rise in numbers of disengaged workers (Pech and Bret 2006, 21).
The emergence of next generation in workforce had played a hefty role in the changes as well, as
their expectation and attitude their organisation have changed drastically in comparison to that of
the past (Twenge and Stacy 2008, 862). Generation Y have demonstrated increase in self-esteem,
narcissism and stress, decrease in need for social approval and males also are no longer seen to
have an advance standing in the work place in comparison to women (Twenge and Stacy 2008,
862-872).
With such major differences in the expectations of the organisation, it is essential for managers
to design management of engagement in accordance to each individual business. Nevertheless,
customising employee engagement is a costly and time consuming process (Vance 2006, 8) in
addition to being an extremely challenging procedure for managers (Miles 2001, 315; Catteeuw,
Eileen and James 2007, 151). Some challenges that Miles (2001, 319) had stated that resulting in
hesitation due to fear in the implications are time, skill, accuracy and preparation which pose as a
major concern.
Two key roles which managers are required to execute to achieve employee engagement are to
connect employees to the organisation and guiding of employee performance and work
(Catteeuw, Eileen and James 2007, 153). Managers must also first understand the business
conditions and match strategies in accordance to the required criteria (Vance 2006, 22).
Pech and Bret (2006, 24) had felt that mutual trust strategy holds a general importance in most
business conditions, Vance (2006, 22) however stated a practical and more in-depth approach of
having dissimilar strategy facing different business situations. The approaches cover conditions
such as company restructuring, broken employee contract due to situation like merger or
bankruptcy and increase in reliance on part-timers (Vance 2006, 22).

Managers themself must also have enough interpersonal skills and some of the imperative
actions for managers to establish an effective management of employee engagement in terms of
communication are as follows;

Making time to listen to employees and keeping an open door policy

Having greater transparency and authenticity

Promoting a constructive examples and role models

Emphasising on core values


(Communicating in a recession 2008, 7)

Authenticity and honesty in communication plays a vital role in ensuring that communication
stays dyad, not stagnant and to ascertain that employee stays committed to the organisation
(Communicating in a recession 2008, 7; Twenge and Stacy 2008, 866).
The revolution of communication through the means other than face-to-face have both arise
and impede opportunities for internal communication (Giesen 2009, 8). If used appropriately, it
would establish and increase engagement especially in generation X and Y (Giesen 2009, 8).
Although this allows dyad communication to thrive, supervisors must understand that faced-tofaced should remain as the key communication (Giesen 2009, 8).
Building employee engagement is a never-ending process as change is inevitable (Perrin 2003,
3; Gill 2009, 19) and therefore a model in the article by Gill (2009, 20) defines steps on
managing the process. The five steps consist of status quo, building of awareness, preparation,
action and maintenance (Gill 2009, 20).

Status Quo defining current state and future expectations

Building of awareness Accessing of engagement gap and improvements required

Preparation Customising and evaluating how changes are to take place

Action Educating, establishing and developing

Maintenance Taking note of changes and engaging others to mentor the change
(Gill 2009, 20-21)

These theory is supported by Papalexandris and Eleanna (2009, 365) that influential mangers
must have both an articulating vision and be a good mentor.
It is also to be noted that employees are individuals and values differ accordingly and as such
managers would also need to consider any unintended consequences when implementing and
changes (Vance 2006, 24).
This statement could be proven in the expectation of reciprocation and acknowledgment driver
as job are no longer jobs; they are a lifestyle option (Twenge and Stacy 2008, 866). Although
antecedent factors are positively linked to employee engagement, they may however prove to be
a stumbling block as well.
In the article by Saks (2006, 605), he claimed that monetary benefits can motivate employees
and lack of sufficient rewards and acknowledgement may lead to burn out. However, this theory
lack of sufficient evidence and on contrary to that Devi (2009, 4), Twenge and Stacy (2008, 866)
stated that monetary benefits by themselves are inadequate drivers as employee engagement.
Thus, it is necessity that managers to understand comprehensively the job specifics and have
carefully employee selection during the recruitment process or to engage staff in training and
development to establish appropriate and sufficient skills for the required job (Vance 2006, 1113).
Conclusion
In conclusion, effective management in employee engagement is an essential part of todays
working environment. However, as the labour environment is evolving, managers need to adapt
to meet the different expectations of the working society.

Although, there have been many research on employee engagement in face of changes,
generation and more, it was noted that there are almost no research in regards to differences in
employee engagement in different culture. This is a significant aspect as the differences in major
culture, such as the Western and Asian, may infer contradicting results in the established
researches.

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