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Employee Engagement Benefits the Company

Employee engagement is essential to company performance. Mid-level managers tend to be the most engaged type of employees, according to a study by Veronica Kabalina and Ludmila Cheglakova of the HSE's Faculty of Management.

Employee engagement is based on the emotional and intellectual attitudes that motivate a person to do their best in their job.

In their study, Kabalina and Cheglakova summarised various existing concepts of employee engagement and attempted to determine the levels of engagement of employees in different positions.

The study was conducted in a large Russian tour operator with branches across the country. The authors interviewed 92 people, including 60 line employees, 14 line managers, and 18 mid-level managers. Kabalina presented the study's findings at the HSE's conference 'Contemporary Problems in Management: Exploring the Boundaries'.

Willingness to Help Others

According to one of the most prominent researchers in this sphere William Kahn, there are three components to employee engagement.

The cognitive component reflects what employees think about the company, its management, and the working conditions.

The emotional component reflects employees' emotional bonds with the company and their positive (or negative) feelings about the company and their managers.

The behavioral, or physical, component has to do with the energy that employees invest in doing their job.

According to some researchers, employee engagement is the antithesis of job burnout—a condition that may result, in particular, from a loss of interest in the job.

Kabalina and Cheglakova emphasise the important role that employee engagement plays in current innovative approaches to human resources management. A high level of employee engagement improves employee retention and reduces turnover.

Having systematised various approaches to employee engagement, the study's authors suggest a more precise definition of the concept stating that engaged employees, in addition to meeting their own performance targets, are prepared go above and beyond what is required–not just in the traditional sense of doing more or better in their position, but also in being willing to assist other team members or to come up with ideas on how to improve work process and outcomes.

Engagement is a fashionable topic today. According to the researchers, major Russian companies have changed the way they get feedback from their staff; virtually overnight, the previously widespread job satisfaction surveys were replaced by employee engagement surveys. HR managers argue that employee engagement allows companies to maximise their human potential.

However, Kabalina warns companies focused on employee engagement to use a balanced approach and avoid situations where engagement, rather than serve as a 'burnout antithesis', may actually lead to burnout. "Employee engagement needs to be supported by conditions for employee participation in managing the company and by appropriate encouragement, incentives, and feedback," she notes.

Engaged Mid-Level Management

To measure employee engagement, the authors used 12 indicators under the three broader categories of compliance, assisting other team members, and participation in management. They found the level of engagement was linked to an employee's job position. Line workers are the least likely to make suggestions for improvement. According to the researchers, it is an important symptom reflecting whether employees in Russian companies expect to be heard.

According to the study, mid-level managers tend to show higher levels of engagement in terms of compliance, assistance to others, and participation in management than other groups. However, regardless of job position, all employees demonstrate the lowest level of engagement in the category ‘willingness to assist others with their job responsibilities’. The authors suggest that further research is needed to find out the causes and characteristics of this phenomenon.

 

Author: Marina Selina, December 15, 2014