A shift is underway in the performance management world. Some HR directors, c-suite leaders, and organizational researchers espouse the idea that employee engagement should be an integral part of the performance review process. This approach would augment the traditional performance review, in which an employer delivers a critique of an employee’s performance.
A paper recently published in the Human Resources Management Review argued that employers should manage and attempt to improve employee engagement as a part of the review process. The paper’s writers imply that a Voice of the Employee solution that boosts employee engagement will generally boost overall staff performance as well.
In their paper, Professor Alan Saks from the University of Toronto and Professor Jamie Gruman of the University of Guelph contend that many organizations can see improved employee performance by managing employee engagement. Gruman and Saks found that “engagement helps predict job performance,” which in turn impacts the bottom line. As professor Jamie Gruman of the University of Guelph explains, “Employees who feel engaged in their tasks do a better job, are less likely to make mistakes, and bring more energy, dedication and vigor into their performance.” Characteristics of employee engagement include excellent focus, absorption in one’s work, and a feeling of overall integration at work, according to Saks and Gruman.
Based both on the research conducted by Saks and Gruman and our own findings, here are a few things management can do to integrate employee engagement into the review process:
Conduct regular Voice of the Employee reviews.
Too many employee engagement programs fizzle after an initial exploratory, baseline study. To build employee engagement over time, you must conduct regular employee surveys. Otherwise, there is no way to track your progress. Moreover, management will find it’s much easier to enact company changes with reliable, continuous employee feedback data.
Research and Improve Work Setting.
In their research, Saks and Gruman found that the following psychological conditions foster employee engagement:
Meaningfulness. Engagement is more likely when employees feel that their work is important, valuable, and meaningful.
Safety. An engaged employee feels that it is safe to do his/her job without fear of damaging his/her career, self-image, or status.
Availability. Engaged employees are not only responding to external stimuli at work; they are also employing a range of their own internal physical, emotional, and psychological resources.
Your performance review for each employee can also include a measurement of these psychological conditions. Do your employees feel safe and valued at work, so that they can maximize their own skills?
Personalize your Employee Engagement Efforts.
A cookie-cutter Voice of the Employee program will be less effective than one tailored for specific organizations and individuals. Remember that every employee needs something slightly different to feel engaged. As Saks explains, “Some employees might need more autonomy in their work, more challenge, more input, or perhaps more support or training.” Folding your employee engagement efforts into the review process makes it more likely that you’ll have the chance to sit down with each employee and figure out what he or she needs to do his or her best work.
Gruman and Saks point out one final benefit of conducting employee engagement research while conducting performance reviews: Doing so sends the message that the firm truly values employee engagement.
Topic: Employee Experience