The Models Of Employee Engagement

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Kahn (1990) had defined employee engagement it as “…harnessing of organization member’s selves to their work roles: in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, emotionally and mentally during role performances. Individual disengagement as the uncoupling of selves from work roles; in disengagement, people withdraw and defend themselves physically, cognitively, or emotionally during role performances”. Kahn emphasizes that there are three psychological conditions that are associated with personal engagement and disengagement of work. They are meaningfulness, availability and safety. Kahn’s model of employee engagement is considered to be the oldest model of employee engagement. As time goes by new models come up among them Aon Hewitt, Deloitte, and Towers Watson models.

Aon Hewitt Employee Engagement Model

Aon Hewitt is the global leader in human resource solutions, with over 30,000 professionals in 90 countries serving more than 20,000 clients worldwide. They advise, design and execute a wide range of solutions that enable clients to cultivate talent to drive organizational and personal performance and growth, navigate retirement risk while providing new levels of financial security, and redefine health solutions for greater choice, affordability and wellness.

After conducting many studies globally, they have come up the following model which mentions the foremost engagement drivers. The Aon Hewitt engagement model below includes the organizational drivers and business outcomes of engagement as well as the individual outcome — engagement itself. When talk about the employee engagement construct, it refers the psychological state and behavioral outcomes that lead to better performance.

Aon Hewitt operationalizes employee engagement as a construct of six items composed of three observable facets of “say, stay, and strive” with two items each, as shown in the following figure. This “say, stay, and strive” definition was derived from thousands of managerial interviews and focus group discussions they have conducted globally regarding what engaged employees think and do. They believe that an employee must exhibit all three facets of saying, staying, and striving to be considered “engaged”.

Towers Watson Engagement Models

Willis Towers Watson is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Towers Watson has 39,000 employees in more than 120 countries. They design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals.

Towers Watson research has shown that there are three measurable elements essential to sustainable engagement as shown in the capital ‘E’ in the figure below:

  • Engaged : The main part of the model is the Feel, Think, and Act. Feel is the affective part where employees feel a bond with the organization and have emotional attachment with it and this will lead to becoming engaged. Think is the cognitive part where employee’s uses their knowledge to outperform and understands the mission, goals and objectives of the organization and fits with it and gets enabled. Act is the motivational and willingness part where employees are motivated to put discretionary effort to go beyond their role for the benefit of organization and get energized.
  • Enabled : Employers can provide supports for employees’ productivity and performance. For instance, having the tools, resources and support usually through direct-line supervisors, to do the job effectively and efficiently.
  • Energized : Employers can create supportive environment for employees’ individual, physical, interpersonal and emotional well-being at work. For example, clear priorities, effective teams, respectful colleagues, and a balance between performance expectations and job pressures all contribute to employees’ sense of well-being on the job.

Deloitte Engagement Models

Deloitte is a UK private company which provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte’s more than 200,000 professionals are committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

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Deloitte uncovered five major elements that work together to make organizations “irresistible.” There are 20 factors (4 factors for each element) fit together into a whole system of engagement in an organization, one that is held together through culture.

High Performance Working Systems (HPWS)

High Performance Work Systems (HPWS) have become highly important as a source of competitive advantage in today’s competitive business environment. Human resource management capabilities are important for attracting, selecting, retaining, motivating and developing the workforce in an organization. HPWS are defined as a combination of those HR practices that can facilitate employee involvement, skills enhancement and stronger motivation. Moreover, as Appelbaum asserts they are important because they improve the level of trust in the workplace, foster employees’ intrinsic level of motivation and raise ‘organizational commitment’.

HPWS includes three categories of HR practices: employee skills, employee motivation and employee empowerment. Those following categories are:

a. The employee skills category includes HR practices such as selective staffing, extensive training, competitive compensation and internal promotions, which are designed to attract highly qualified applicants with superior knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). They can also be deployed to develop their skills further and to maintain their retention.

b. The employee motivation category comprises HR practices such as performance contingent pay and results oriented appraisal that are created to elicit higher levels of work motivation.

c. Finally, the employee empowerment category refers to HR practices such as employee participation, formal complaint resolution systems and teamwork design that are designed and implemented to enable employees to express their opinions and perceptions, thereby empowering to make decisions which lead to higher employee flexibility and productivity.

In terms of empirical findings, HPWS literatures have painted a rosy picture on the effects of HPWS. This view of the outcomes of HPWS emphasized that employee will be more effective and satisfied if given more opportunity, motivation, and ability. However, researchers draw our attention to possibility of alternative view of the outcomes of HPWS. The critics of this view argue that HPWS are implemented to improve performance, but better performance may be achieved at the expense of employees. For example, Osterman (2000) claimed that the “mutual gains view” has been implicit in much of the discussion on HPWS. He maintained that the reasons why we would expect mutual gains are twofold. Firstly, the practices have improved productivity, so that there is something to be shared, and secondly, the employees have to be given something in response to their extra effort and the ideas they contribute. Ramsay et al. (2000) attempted to examine Labor Process conceptualization, which expects performance gains from HPWS to arise instead from work intensification, offloading of task controls, and increased job strain. They found that HPWS have a positive association with both commitment and strain. The High Performance Work System (HPWS) is generally characterized by a set of managerial practices that serve to enhance the involvement, commitment and competencies of the employee. These may be classified into three sets.

  1. The core practices involve changing the way jobs are designed and executed. In particular, they entail methods for working flexibly, including functional flexibility (the training of people to do a range of jobs), team working, quality circles, and suggestion schemes.
  2. A set of practices are used to guarantee that employees have the knowledge and competences to do their jobs under the high performance system. These include training in team working and inter-personal skills, team briefing, appraisal and information sharing.
  3. A set of practices aimed at ensuring that the organization attracts and retains people with the right motivations to work under such a system. These include job security guarantees, attitude surveys with feedback to employees, a high priority given to internal recruitment, and the use of systematic selection methods.
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