Employee engagement is the commitment an employee makes to an organisation. It is an emotional commitment that means an employee cares about the organisation’s goals and about their own job. It is not about an employee just working for the next salary increase, performance bonus or promotion.

Engaged employees are more likely to be productive and loyal. When organisations put sound HR practices in place, employees tend to more engaged and satisfied. I believe that job satisfaction and employee engagement are not one and the same. A satisfied employee will be happy enough at work, arrive on time with no attendance or performance issues but not be 100% engaged and aligned with the organisation’s goals. An engaged employee will work overtime when necessary without being asked or may come in when on leave to help out with a deadline.

5 areas HR can contribute to employee engagement:
Training and development – investing in training programmes helps employees develop personally and professionally.
Job descriptions – if employees understand exactly what is expected of them, they are able to contribute to organisational effectiveness positively and efficiently.

Performance management (usually has a negative connotation which is unfortunate. If properly implemented this is one of the most powerful communication, motivation and engagement factors for a successful and engaged organisation) – if employees are provided with regular, constructive feedback and possible succession options, they are open and engaged.

Employee wellness – an organisation that embraces the physical, mental, social, spiritual, occupational and environmental health of its employees will have a healthy and productive workforce.

Remuneration (specifically left this for last as it is not the main motivating factor for an engaged employee) – BUT employees who feel that they are valued and adequately compensated are less likely to explore new opportunities.

Employee engagement is quite a complex issue and cannot be addressed in just one article. Organisations should be thinking of new or innovative ways to engage employees.

Apparently since 2004, Google has had “20% time”. This enables employees to develop their own projects at work, while spending the other 80% on their “actual” job. This has generated a lot of great ideas for the company. Google also provides free legal advice, extra compensation for new parents and provides themed meeting rooms like an “Irish pub” and “Swiss chalet”.

Depending on the size and nature of an organisation, anything from giving an employee an afternoon off for their birthday, featuring a vegetarian option on the canteen menu to arranging an exercise class before or after work could go a long way in developing a culture of engagement.