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Monday, Aug 09, 2004

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Opinion - Human Resources
Columns - Offhand


`Engaged employees'

B. S. Raghavan

TRUE to the penchant of management gurus to reinvent themselves and re-engineer their vocabulary, a new phrase, "engaged employee" has been minted from out of their fertile brain to denote one who is fully motivated to put in his best for his employer and in the bargain, serves as an inspiration for others.

He can be taken to be the opposite of the "problem employee" who gives no end of trouble, throws tantrums, quarrels with everybody and mucks up whatever task is assigned to him. While this category drains away a lot of energy of the top management, the engaged employee bolsters the bottom line and helps earn goodwill.

But alas, according to some surveys reflecting the situation in the US, only 28 per cent of the employees are found to identify themselves with the fortunes and future of the organisations they work for. From my experience of the Indian scenario, I would not put the percentage here higher than 10. Whatever the figure, there is no doubt that it is on this small number that the effectiveness and efficiency of the entire organisation depend.

How to provide sufficient incentive to them so that they continue to retain the full measure of their enthusiasm or emotional involvement is a big challenge to those who employ them. For, the departure of even a single such person from a sensitive or pivotal position may cause havoc to the organisation. Efforts directed at keeping them become particularly necessary when loyalty is at a discount and there are many other employers only too ready to lure them with better offers and prospects.

Providing job satisfaction is the basic minimum, whatever the nature of the organisation. It simply means giving the employee enough opportunities to use his creative and innovative talents and freeing him from procedural shackles.

There are findings to show that for an engaged employee, realisation of his maximum potential is even ahead of the quantum of compensation. However, the latter too cannot be dismissed as of little consequence. The old adage that one can attract only monkeys with peanuts is still true.

Employers should constantly seek ways to build up the self-esteem of the engaged employees. There are, of course, the conventional methods of timely and generous appreciation, awards and rewards, and out-of-turn promotion, and paid holidays for them and their families. The ultimate aim should be to bring about all-round human efflorescence which would put not only the organisation but also the country on top.

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