If you're an HR professional, a supervisor involved in talent management, or a business owner, then you've probably come across the term work engagement; whether in an article, social media post, or during a chat with that one colleague who always has to tell you about the latest piece of information he/she stumbled upon.
The term's popularity soared in the past decade or so. This means that a Google search of "work engagement" today will provide you with a plethora of results including academic studies & business articles; both of which make various claims of work engagement having a proven positive impact on several key indicators of organisational performance. The question clearly becomes "Why should we care?", "How does it influence the bottom line?" & "What in the world is work engagement to begin with?".
Defining Work Engagement
This is where we face our first hurdle. The rising popularity of work engagement has led to a number of distinctively different definitions by both academics & professionals, as well as a lack of consensus on which definition best describes the construct. Nonetheless, one definition provided by Wilmar Schaufeli & his colleagues has had a higher usage rate in more recent empirical studies, & is slowly becoming the most dominant definition of the term. Schaufeli defines work engagement as consisting of absorption, dedication, & vigour. Accordingly, we view engaged employees as those who are absorbed in their work, dedicated to it, & who perform tasks with great vigour & energy.
Benefits of Work Engagement
Now that we know what is meant by work engagement, why should we spend even more valuable time measuring it & figuring out how to improve our staff's work engagement levels? How is any of this going to help with our bottom line?
Firstly, an engaged workforce is a self-motivated workforce that actually finds a sense of enjoyment in performing their tasks. This means that employees will find it in their nature to go beyond the call of duty for the benefit of the organisation; going beyond what is in their job description. Furthermore, studies have shown that innovation & creativity levels are higher in engaged employees than non-engaged employees.
Secondly, work engagement is associated with organisational commitment. Ensuring your employees are engaged will also increase the sense of commitment & loyalty they have towards the organisation they represent. This is key since studies have shown that organisational commitment leads to notable improvements in an organisation's financial performance.
Thirdly, empirical studies have shown a link between work engagement & turnover intention. Therefore, managing your employees' work engagement levels enhances your ability to retain your talented workforce & increases your chances of successfully fending off any competitors or headhunters trying to poach your star performers.
Moreover, improving your staff's work engagement levels will lead to improvements in both their satisfaction & performance levels. This subsequently, & more importantly, leads to higher levels of client & customer satisfaction.
Now that you know what work engagement is, what all the fuss is about, & why it is vastly becoming one of the key HR metrics organisations focus on, do you think Saudi businesses should measure their staff's work engagement levels? Does your organisation measure work engagement? Let us know in the comments section & please take the time to answer the brief two-question survey about work engagement on our homepage.