Despite widespread acknowledgement that employee engagement can help deliver superior organisational results a study conducted (Gallup, 2013) of workers in more than 140 countries found that only 13% are engaged in their jobs (Gallup, 2013:12). Even more worrying is the fact that disengaged workers, that is, those who are negative (and may possibly become antagonistic to their organisations) outnumber engaged employees at a rate of almost two to one.
From an Irish perspective, the situation is no different with a recent survey of Human Resource professionals identifying engaging employees and implementing change as the two greatest challenges facing them in 2017.
As part of his doctorate Noel carried out a four year study at Lake Region Medical, New Ross where he was at that time Enterprise Excellence Director focusing on what makes some employee decide to engage with their organisations, while others choose not to. The findings of the study have identified how involvement in continuous improvement triggers a social exchange which can lead to significant increases in employee engagement.
What’s a social exchange? Social Exchange Theory (SET) explains the establishment, reinforcement, and on-going maintenance of interpersonal relationships in organisations, and is based on the fundamental principle that exchange in a relationship has to be of mutual benefit. In the context of SET, reciprocation is the process by which an individual who receives a benefit feels obliged to return the favour. Within a work context the relationship can be seen as a trade-off effort on the part of the employees for benefits provided by the employer. Social Exchange is demonstrated by expressions of Loyalty, Trust, and Reciprocation.
So How Does it Work? The research has identified four main elements within the Continuous Improvement Process which can act as a catalyst for Social Exchange to emerge, and lead to increased Employee Engagement. These elements are:
- When a Leader provides resources, mentoring and emotional support.
- When employees are empowered to make their work more fulfilling.
- When employees receive recognition for their efforts and achievements.
- When employees are provided with the opportunity to demonstrate their capability and showcase their ambition.
Watch out for details on upcoming Employee Engagement Workshop to take place in October 2017.