Firms need to distinguish between job and organisation when it comes to employee engagement

Organisations need to distinguish between employee engagement with a job and engagement with the organisation if they are to improve the employee experience and their overall competitive advantage, a new research paper claims. Published by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), the paper claims to highlight how traditional, one-dimensional views of engagement fail to make a distinction between job and organisational engagement, viewing employee engagement as a single concept. However, employees can be highly engaged with the organisation but have low levels of job engagement, or vice versa. The research paper, Bridging the gap: an evidence-based approach to employee engagement, suggests that this lack of understanding about what engagement really is and how it influences organisational success can lead to inefficient and ineffective strategies to improve employee engagement.

Authored by Megan Edwards, IES research fellow, the paper states that organisations should recognise the drivers of engagement which correspond to the area of engagement they wish to improve, whether it is job or organisational engagement, or both. In doing so, organisations can then create engagement strategies which incorporate drivers of that specific level of engagement.
Drawing on the latest academic literature on employee engagement, the paper offers a five-step approach that organisations can use to address the different levels of engagement:

1. Understand the differences between job and organisational engagement and use business data, such employee engagement survey or productivity data, to identify where attention should be focused at the current time.

2. Use technology effectively, to regularly measure levels of job and organisational engagement.

3. Create an evidence-based engagement strategy, using business data and considering relevant drivers of employee engagement, keeping employee needs at its core.

4. Involve line managers in the process by sharing data, providing specific training in line with the strategy and being on hand for day-to-day support.

5. Be agile – incorporate changes into the strategy based on real-time feedback and keep line managers in the loop.

Megan Edwards, research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, said: ‘Employee engagement levels are consistently low despite the best efforts of many organisations. Viewing engagement as a single concept, rather than adopting a multi-faceted approach, may be contributing to this. Organisations should draw a distinction between the different levels of engagement to facilitate targeted, evidence-based interventions which enable them to meet their desired business outcomes more effectively.’