Withdrawal and turnover often reflect diminished employee engagement.?Engagement?refers to being psychologically involved in, connected to, and committed to getting one?s jobs done. Engaged employees ?experience a high level of connectivity with their work tasks,? and therefore work hard to accomplish their task-related goals.37
Employee Engagement and Performance
Employee engagement is important because both employee behavior (including turnover) and organizational performance reflect whether employees are ?engaged.? For example, based on Gallup surveys, business units with the highest levels of employee engagement have an 83% chance of performing above the company median, while those with the lowest employee engagement have only a 17% chance.38?A survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide concluded that companies with highly engaged employees have 26% higher revenue per employee.39?The director of recruiting at the nonprofit Fair Trade USA believes boosting engagement helps to explain the firm?s subsequent 10% drop in turnover. One report said the earnings growth rate per share of companies with highly engaged employees is almost 4 times that of others.40?Starwood Hotels measure engagement and find it relates to important outcomes such as customer satisfaction and financial results. Other relevant outcome measures might include absenteeism, safety, sales, turnover, and profitability.41?The Improving Performance feature presents another example.
Yet studies, including one by Towers Watson, conclude that only about 21% of the global workforce is engaged, while almost 40% is disengaged.42?In one large survey, 57% of respondents were disengaged within 2 years after hiring.43
IMPROVING PERFORMANCE:?HR Practices Around the Globe?Employee Engagement at Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is a global mining corporation with operations in 43 countries. Seeking to better understand the links in its company between employee engagement and organizational performance, Rio Tinto partnered with the consulting firm Towers Watson to conduct an employee engagement survey and to analyze the results. They began by collecting extensive employee engagement survey data from Rio Tinto employees around the world. The Towers Watson consultants then used a statistical process they called?linkage analysis?to analyze how employee engagement measures related to dozens of performance and maintenance?measures in Rio Tinto?s plants and mines around the world. The analysis compared Rio Tinto?s employee engagement scores with benchmark scores from other companies in Towers Watson?s database. The engagement metrics focused on things like understanding and support for the vision of the company, support for company values, and ?willingness to go the extra mile to ensure business success.? Rio Tinto concluded that the employee engagement data related to performance outcomes across its many facilities around the world.44 The bottom line is that by analyzing the links between (1) various employee engagement metrics and (2) measures of the company?s performance, Rio Tinto was better able to understand how taking specific steps to improve employee engagement would translate into improved organizational performance.44
Actions That Foster Engagement
The same Towers Watson findings illustrate how employers can improve employee engagement.?Figure?10-2?summarizes these findings.45?Important engagement-supporting actions include making sure employees (1) understand how their departments contribute to the company?s success, (2) see how their own efforts contribute to achieving the company?s goals, and (3) get a sense of accomplishment from working at the firm. Employers should also hold managers responsible for employee engagement. For example, the lubricant company WD-40 conducts periodic opinion surveys containing engagement measures, and has supervisors and managers meet with their employees to discuss how to improve the results.46
FIGURE?10-2?Employer Actions That Make Employees Feel More Engaged
Source:??Working Today: Understanding What Drives Employee Engagement,? from?The 2003 Towers Perrin Talent Report. Copyright ? Towers Perrin. Reprinted with permission of Towers Watson.
Employee participation also improves engagement. For example, Milliken & Co. uses employee participation safety teams at one plant. The safety process consists of 16 employees on the plant?s safety steering committee, which in turn governs 8 employee safety subcommittees. The program appears to produce high levels of safety engagement among employees, and significant improvements in the plant accident rates.47
Perhaps the best way to improve engagement is to remember that engagement is a two-way street. Employees tend to be committed to and engaged in companies that are committed to them. Such companies demonstrate what psychologists call ?perceived organizational support,? wherein the employee perceives that the employer values his or her contribution and cares about his or her well being.48?Researchers measure such organizational support with survey items such as, ?The organization values my contribution to its well-being?; ?The organization would understand a long absence due to my illness?; and ?The organization really cares about my well being.?49?Companies such as software supplier SAS therefore go to extraordinary lengths to provide?the family-friendly benefits and support that their employees correctly perceive as meaning ?the company cares about me.? They also work hard to make sure their employees have happy and fulfilling careers. We turn to this next.
3 Discuss what employers and supervisors can do to support employees??career development?needs.
Employers recognize that?career?management plays an important role in engaging and retaining employees. For example, one survey found that employers planned to use both compensation and?career development?to retain and engage the right talent.50
Offering?career?support is generally a win-win situation. The employees, armed with better insights about their occupational strengths, should be better equipped to serve the company and less likely to leave.51The employer should benefit from higher engagement and lower turnover.
HR in Practice at the Hotel Paris
If the Hotel Paris wanted satisfied guests, they had to have engaged employees who did their jobs as if they owned the company, even when the supervisor was nowhere in sight. But for the employees to be engaged, Lisa knew the Hotel Paris had to make it clear that the company was also committed to its employees. To see what they did, see the case on pages?317?318?of this chapter.
We may define?career?as the occupational positions a person holds over the years.?Career?management?is a process for enabling employees to better understand and develop their?career?skills and interests and to use these skills and interests most effectively both within the company and after they leave the firm.?Career development?is the lifelong series of activities (such as workshops) that contribute to a person?s?career?exploration, establishment, success, and fulfillment.?Career?planning?is the deliberate process through which someone becomes aware of personal skills, interests, knowledge, motivations, and other characteristics; acquires information about opportunities and choices; identifies?career-related goals; and establishes action plans to attain specific goals.
The occupational positions a person has had over many years.
The process for enabling employees to better understand and develop their?career?skills and interests, and to use these skills and interests more effectively.
The lifelong series of activities that contribute to a person?s?career?exploration, establishment, success, and fulfillment.
The deliberate process through which someone becomes aware of personal skills, interests, knowledge, motivations, and other characteristics and establishes action plans to attain specific goals.
We?ll see that the employee?s manager and employer should play roles in guiding and developing the employee?s?career. However, the employee must always accept full responsibility for his or her own?career development?and?career?success.
People once viewed careers as a sort of upward stairway from job to job, more often than not with one or at most a few firms. Today, many people do still move up but many (or most) find themselves having to reinvent themselves. For example, the sales rep, laid off by a publishing firm that?s just merged, may reinvent her?career?as an account executive at a media-oriented advertising firm.52
Careers today differ in other ways from a few years ago. With more women pursuing professional and managerial careers, families must balance the challenges associated with dual?career?pressures. At the same time, what people want from their careers is changing. Baby boomers?those retiring in the next few years?tended to be job- and employer-focused. People entering the job market now often value work arrangements that provide more opportunities for balanced work?family lives.
One implication is that what employers and employees expect from each other is changing. What the employer and employee expect of each other is part of what psychologists call a?psychological contract.?This is ?an unwritten agreement that exists between employers and employees.?53?The psychological contract identifies each party?s mutual expectations. For example, the unstated agreement is that management will treat employees fairly and provide satisfactory work conditions, hopefully in a long-term relationship. Employees are expected to respond ?by demonstrating a good attitude, following directions, and showing loyalty to the organization.?54
But with today?s tumultuous labor markets, neither the employer nor the employee can count on long-term commitments from each other. That fact changes the terms of the psychological contract, and makes?career?management even more critical for the employee.
The Employee?s Role in?Career?Management
The employer and manager have roles in guiding employees? careers, but no employee should abandon this task to others.?Career?planning means matching individual strengths and weaknesses with occupational opportunities and threats. The person wants to pursue occupations, jobs, and a?career?that capitalize on his or her interests, aptitudes, values, and skills. He or she also wants to choose occupations, jobs, and a?career?that make sense in terms of projected future demand for various types of occupations. The consequences of a bad choice are too severe to leave to others. There is a wealth of sources to turn to.
As one example of a?career?planning aid,?career-counseling expert John Holland says that personality (including values, motives, and needs) is one?career?choice determinant. Thus, a person with a strong social orientation might be attracted to careers that entail interpersonal rather than intellectual or physical activities and to occupations such as social work. Holland found six basic personality types or orientations. Individuals can use his Self-Directed Search (SDS) test (available online at?www.self-directed-search.com) to assess their occupational orientations and preferred occupations.
As noted in the accompanying text, O*NET offers a free comprehensive online ?My Next Move? occupation and?career?assessment system for building your future?career?(www.onetcenter.org/mynextmove.html).
Source:?Screenshot of O*NET website,?www.onetonline.org/.
The SDS has an excellent reputation, but the?career?seeker needs to be wary of some of the other online?career?assessment sites. One study of 24 no-cost online?career?assessment websites concluded that they were easy to use, but suffered from insufficient validation and confidentiality. However, a number of online?career?assessment instruments such as?Career?Key (www.careerkey.org) do reportedly provide validated and useful information.55?O*NET offers a free comprehensive online ?My Next Move? occupations and?career?assessment system (www.onetcenter.org/mynextmove.html). You will find other examples at?http://associationdatabase.com/aws/NCDA/pt/sp/resources,?and in the following exercises, and a more in-depth discussion of?career?planning and job search tools in the appendix on pages?321?327?.
One useful exercise for identifying occupational skills is to head a page ?The School or Occupational Tasks Most Enjoyed Doing.? Then write a short essay describing the tasks. Provide as much detail as you can about your duties and responsibilities, and what you found enjoyable?about each task. (It?s not necessarily the most enjoyable?job?you?ve had, but the most enjoyable?task?you?ve had to perform within your jobs.) Next, on other pages, do the same thing for two other tasks. Now scrutinize the three essays. Underline the skills that you mentioned the most often. For example, did you especially enjoy the hours you spent in the library doing research for your boss when you worked one summer as an intern?56
Another exercise can prove enlightening. On a page, answer the question: ?If you could have any kind of job, what would it be?? Invent your own job if need be, and don?t worry about what you?can?do?just what you want to do.57
The Employer?s Role in?Career?Management
The employer?s?career development?roles depend on how long the employee has been with the firm. For example,?before hiring, realistic job interviews can help prospective employees more accurately gauge if the job is a good fit.
Especially for recent college graduates,?the first job?can be crucial for building confidence and a more realistic picture of what he or she can and cannot do: Providing challenging first jobs and having an experienced mentor who can help the person learn the ropes are important. Some refer to this as preventing?reality shock?, a phenomenon that occurs when a new employee?s high expectations and enthusiasm confront the reality of a boring, unchallenging job.
Results of a period that may occur at the initial?career?entry when the new employee?s high job expectations confront the reality of a boring or otherwise unattractive work situation.
After the person has been?on the job?for a while, periodic job rotation can help the person develop a more realistic picture of what he or she is (and is not) good at. Perhaps more importantly,?career-oriented appraisals?in which the manager doesn?t just appraise the employee but also gives him or her honest feedback on the realities of the person?s?career?aspirations?are crucial.
Most employers do not provide a wide range of expensive?career development?options. However,?career development?systems needn?t be complicated. Even just receiving performance feedback from supervisors, having individual?development?plans, and having access to training is enough for many employees. Beyond that, job postings, formal?career-oriented performance appraisals, formal counseling and mentoring with managers, and individual succession planning for high-potential employees are valuable.58?Yet only about a fourth of the respondents in one survey even had individual?developmentplans.59?Figure?10-3?illustrates a simple employee?career?planning form.60
Other options are more comprehensive. Some employers create Web-based or offline libraries of?career development?materials, and offer?career?workshops and perhaps individual?career?coaches for?careerguidance. First USA Bank has its ?Opportunity Knocks? program. In addition to?career developmenttraining and follow-up support, the program includes?career development?centers at work sites that employees use on company time. The latter contain materials such as?career?assessment and planning tools.61?WorkforceVision from Criterion, Inc., supplies online systems that help the employer analyze an employee?s training needs. Clicking on the employee?s name launches his or her work history, competencies,?career?path, and other information. For each competency (such as leadership), a bar chart graphically shows a ?gap analysis? highlighting the person?s strengths and weaknesses. The firm can then organize developmental activities around the person?s needs.62
Career?Planning Workshops and?Career?Coaches
A?career?planning workshop is ?a planned learning event in which participants are expected to be actively involved, completing?career?planning exercises and inventories and participating in?career?skills practice sessions.?63?A typical workshop includes self-assessment exercises (skills, interests, values, and so on), an assessment of important occupational trends, and goal-setting and action-planning segments.
Career?coaches?generally help employees create 1- to 5-year plans showing where their careers with the firm may lead. Then, the employer and employee base the latter?s?development?plans on what he or she will need to move up.64?The coaches help individual employees identify their?development?needs and obtain the training, professional?development, and networking opportunities that they require to satisfy those needs.65
The Manager?s Role
It?s hard to overstate the impact that a supervisor can have on his or her employee?s?career development. With little or no additional effort than realistic performance reviews and candid?careeradvice, a competent supervisor can help the employee get on and stay on the right?career?track. At the other extreme, an uncaring or unsupportive supervisor may look back on years of having inhibited his or her employees??career development.
Source:??Employee?Career Development?Plan? Copyright ? 2012 by BLR-Business & Legal Resources ([no longer online]?www.HR.BLR.com). Reprinted with permission.
The manager can do several things to support his or her subordinates??career development?needs. When the subordinate first starts, make sure he or she develops the skills required to get off to a good start. Schedule regular performance appraisals; at these reviews, cover the extent to which the employee?s current skills and performance are consistent with the person?s?career?aspirations. Provide the employee with an informal?development?plan like that in?Figure?10-4. Keep subordinates informed about how they can utilize the firm?s current?career-related benefits, and encourage them to do so.66
Mentoring?means having experienced senior people advising, counseling, and guiding employees? longer-term?career development. An employee who agonizes over which?career?to pursue or how to navigate office politics may need mentoring.
Advising, counseling, and guiding.
Mentoring may be formal or informal. Informally, mid- and senior-level managers may voluntarily help less-experienced employees?for instance, by giving them?career?advice and?helping them to navigate office politics. Many employers also have formal mentoring programs. For instance, the employer may pair prot?g?s with potential mentors, and provide training to help mentor and prot?g? better understand their respective responsibilities. Either formal or informal, studies show that having a mentor give?career-related guidance and act as a sounding board can significantly enhance one?s?career?satisfaction and success.67
FIGURE?10-4?Sample Performance Review?Development?Plan
Source:??Sample Performance Review?Development?Plan? Copyright ? 2012 by BLR-Business & Legal Resources ([no longer online]?www.HR.BLR.com). Reprinted with permission.
For the supervisor, mentoring is both valuable and dangerous. It is valuable insofar as you can influence, in a positive way, the careers and lives of your less experienced subordinates and colleagues. The danger is it can backfire.?Coaching?focuses on daily tasks that you can easily re-learn, so coaching?s downside is usually limited.?Mentoring?focuses on relatively hard-to-reverse longer-term issues, and often touches on the person?s psychology (motives, and how one gets along with others, for instance). Because the supervisor is usually not a psychologist or trained?career?advisor, he or she must be extra cautious in the mentoring advice he or she gives.
Educating, instructing, and training subordinates.
The Effective Mentor
Research on what supervisors can do to be better mentors reveals few surprises. Effective mentors?set high standards, are willing to?invest the time?and effort the mentoring relationship requires, and actively?steer prot?g?s?into important projects, teams, and jobs.68?Effective mentoring requires?trust, and the level of trust reflects the mentor?s?professional competence,?consistency,?ability to communicate, and readiness to?share control.69
4 ?List and briefly explain the main decisions employers should address in reaching promotion and other employee life-cycle?career?decisions?.
However, studies suggest that traditional mentoring is less effective for women than it is for men. For example, in one survey of employees who had ?active mentoring relationships? in one recent year, 72% of the men received one or more promotions in the ensuing 2 years, compared with 65% of the women. A CEO or other senior executive mentored 78% of the men, compared with 69% of the women.70
Figures like these are prompting employers to assign women to ?mentor/sponsors? who have more organizational clout. For example, when Deutsche Bank discovered that several female managing directors had left the firm for better jobs at competitors, it began pairing them with mentor/sponsors from the bank?s executive committee. The latter were in a position to advocate the women for promotion.