The Role of Employee Engagement & Communication in Gaining Competitive Advantage
Original post by Marilyn Lindblad of Demand Media
A company's human resources are its most valuable asset. Retaining employees who are committed to their work boosts a company's competitive advantage and enhances its reputation. Making sure employees understand how much the company values them fosters organizational loyalty. Employees who know that their work makes a difference to the company are less vulnerable to being lured away by competitors.
Employee engagement is the degree to which an employee commits to the organization and how that commitment motivates him. A highly motivated employee works hard for the company and does not want to leave. He understands how the work he does contributes to the organization's success, and he takes pride in his contribution. On a large scale, engaging the workforce impacts employee retention, improves a company's reputation and increases customer satisfaction.
Every year, analysts publish lists of the best companies to work for. The companies that make the list year after year gain a reputation that attracts talent from other companies. The rating systems used to create these lists vary from one study to another, but most focus on pay, work-life balance and perks such as health care, child care and sabbaticals. Some companies offer on-site wine bars and wellness centers, fertility benefits and pet health insurance as fringe benefits. Company recruiters leverage an organization's reputation as a good place to work to build a competitive workforce.
Clear communication is a key element in helping employees understand how they help the company achieve its goals. The most satisfied employees understand the connection between the work they do and the company's strategic initiatives. An effective manager helps her direct reports understand how much the company values them and how the group's work fits into the big organizational picture. Providing real-time feedback on an employee's performance, involving employees in the decision-making process and discussing changes in the organization with employees are examples that illustrate how a manager can improve her team's commitment with communication.
An organization looks to its employees to measure its success. Surveying employees anonymously about their perception of their jobs is the most effective way to gauge satisfaction and involvement. An employee engagement survey asks each employee how he perceives his opportunities to develop in his role, whether he feels that his opinions count, whether he has what he needs to do his best work and whether he understands what the company expects of him. A survey that tracks responses back to individual managers helps the organization determine which managers need help creating that strong link between the employee and the company.
- SHRM; Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage; Nancy R. Lockwood; 2007
- CNN Money; 100 Best Companies to Work For; 2011
About the Author
Marilyn Lindblad practices law on the west coast of the United States. She has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her work has appeared on various websites. Lindblad received her Juris Doctor from Lewis and Clark Law School.