Job Role as a Driver of Employee Engagement

All of us have heard the story of 3 brick-layers who were working side by side when a passer-by asked them what they were doing.

The first said - “I am laying bricks”

The second said - “I am feeding my family”

The third said - “I am building a cathedral”

This simple story conveys the essence of an engaged employee. The last brick-layer identified his job with the larger goal and hence was able to bring that something extra that served as an inspiration to many.

Most of the employees will land up for work and try and fulfil their role requirements irrespective of their perception of the organization, its policy, pay etc. This is because the fundamental driver for most of us is (1) to utilize our time gainfully and (2) to earn a livelihood. But this does not help organizations in the long term. So, what should organizations do? How can they build an engaged workforce that will help create long term competitiveness?

Many of us become prescriptive when trying to implement employee engagement initiatives without understanding that the first step towards creating an engaged workforce is to help employees see a clear linkage between their job role and organization goal.

The following are some measures that organizations can take w.r.t (with respect to) the “job/role of employee” that will help improve engagement.

  1. Clear Role Definition - Engagement begins even before the employee joins work. Carving out a clear job description will actively engage a potential hire and help convert him/her into an enthusiastic joiner and then engaged employee.

  2. Paint the Larger Picture - During the peak of hiring activity, my team and I were given a tough time about new joiner renege and attrition of existing employees. Most of the time, we oscillated between bearing the brunt and/or retaliating by throwing our hands up, buying time or throwing industry data points as reference but never did we understand the true impact till one of the business leads sat us down and connected the dots for us and articulated the $(dollar) impact of each of our activity. That day, we graduated to truly becoming business partners.

  3. Job Rotation - The grass on the other side is always greener. While the revenue generating/client facing entities believe that the support staff (like admin, human resources, finance) has a cushy job, the support staff often complains of a vendor like treatment at the hands of the former. An employee can contribute his best if he/she can see how his/her role ties in with the larger organization goals or explore linkages of his/her role with other teams in the organization. For this purpose, tools such as job-rotation, multi team projects, best practice sharing by teams can be leveraged effectively by organizations. Such interactions help create an informal and seamless source of information across teams which helps employees to perform effectively and efficiently.

  4. Goal Setting - A realistic and time bound goal that clearly mentions linkage to the organization goal is an important aspect in building an engaged workforce. This will be dealt with in greater depth in the following chapter which deals with Performance Management as a driver of engagement.

  5. Job Loading - Organizations can effectively use both ‘vertical-loading’ i.e. job enrichment and ‘horizontal-loading’ i.e. job enlargement to motivate employees. Both these approaches allow an employee to explore and use their strengths and also beat work monotony. These also help skill development and enhancement which in turn helps employee output, team output and eventually organization output.

In conclusion, engaged employees create quality output not because they have to or are forced to but because they want to, because they see a clear linkage between their work and the organization vision and results.

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