The difference between Employee Satisfaction and Employee Engagement

Employee satisfaction and engagement are deceptively similar sounding attitudes when seen superficially. Many people tend to use these terms interchangeably but there are clear differences between these two and it is important for business leaders to know the nuances. In fact in some organizations, shaking up satisfied employees might be the key to growth!

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The ABC’s of Attitude, Cognitive Dissonance and Echo Chambers

Attitude, is a much used and equally abused word in daily life – both in the workplace and outside of it. It is often used to dismiss those who don’t ‘play along’ with broad stroke classifications of ‘having a wrong attitude’.

But therein lies the rub. Very few dig in deeper to understand what causes the positive or negative attitude. Take a moment to think about it – the attitude a person has is not something he is born with; it’s not something that is coded into his genetic material. So where does it come from?

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Mapping the Employee Engagement Grid

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“Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under, scream
But no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
‘Cause there’s a spark in you
You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine” – Firework, Katy Perry

 

In the previous post (Identifying Engaged Employees) we had taken a peek at the psychic and behavioral traits of an engaged employee. Now we go a step further and try to extend the same mapping logic to everyone and see what can we use to identify the degree of engagement across the workforce. This is obviously imperfect, after all engagement is a complex fluid phenomenon and can’t be boiled down to single digit values without being partially (or at times, completely) wrong. (After all employees aren’t products on an ecommerce website to be given star ratings on a scale of 1-5. You see how neatly I sneaked in an anti-bell curve appraisal comment there. More here)

At the same time, imperfect as it may be, it does give leaders some sense of what might be going on with their team members and helps them take action to intervene and fix the problem – useful when done in (near) real-time, and utterly useless when done as an annual exercise.

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Identifying Engaged Employees

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There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. – Jack Welch

Almost everyone is in a perpetual quest to identify ‘engaged’ employees. Leaders want them so they can deliver results, HR wants them so leaders can deliver results, Team managers want them on their teams so they can meet targets and leaders can deliver results, Team members want them because … you get the picture.

Surely these rare creatures walk among us. So how does one identify those employees who are truly engaged – separate the wheat from the chaff metaphorically speaking.

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Employee Engagement: Focus on the right Symbiont.

kwenchBlogBanner_RightSymbiont_I ain’t some dying dog that you can kick /
So f* off /
It’s so easy to fall into that hole /
And you’re the one who cast me in that role / (Social Parasite, Alice in Chains)

We often hear comparisons of organizations with organisms. In his book ‘The Living Company’, Arie De Gues compares companies to living organisms by arguing that just like them, companies learn, evolve and eventually cease to exist. The traditional view point of the contract between an employee and the organization/employer has been that of two principals who are inherently in conflict; but in order to maximize their self-interest they engage in co-operation with each other. Employee-employer relationships have come a long way from the Master-Slave days and so has the implicit contract between them.

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FLIPping VUCA through Strategic Employee Recognition

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Livin’ on the edge / You can’t stop yourself from fallin’/ Tell me what you think about your situation/ Complication, aggravation is getting to you

If chicken little tells you that the sky is fallin’/ Even if it wasn’t would you still come crawlin’ back again/ I bet you would my friend  

(Living on the Edge, Aerosmith)

It has become nearly impossible to access a news site off late without coming across a report or opinion piece on how layoffs are imminent in the Indian IT/ITeS sector. Experts, who understand this sector much better than I do, seem to attribute the negative sentiment among companies in the sector to rising protectionist sentiments in traditional markets, impending rise of AI and ML and subsequent loss of jobs to automation. Some even feel that the entire sector was ‘lazy’ and that the loss of jobs was a foregone conclusion. And all those share buy-back offers by IT majors? Now that simply has to be the ultimate proof that things aren’t going well at all!

If all this fearmongering makes you want to scream out loud, join the line. As Aerosmith put it so well – it feels a bit like ‘Living on the Edge’! Continue reading “FLIPping VUCA through Strategic Employee Recognition”

Where Appraisal meets Engagement…

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It’s that time of the year again! When the industry buzzword is “Appraisal” ….. at least for a few months.

For employees – commences the race to getting to the highest bonus bracket.

For managers, supervisors – dealing with the stress of negotiations, confrontations and potentially unwarranted employee pride

For HR – is the true test of their Performance Management strategy Continue reading “Where Appraisal meets Engagement…”