Employee Performance - 8 August 2013
Ever since ‘employee engagement’ was introduced to the management lexicon in 1990, much of the subsequent thinking and analysing has been pretty straightforward. In essence, the prevailing thought has been that if you create highly engaged employees then high performance will surely follow. But that concept can no longer be regarded as true.
This was the conclusion in a groundbreaking study published earlier this year in The International Journal of Human Resource Management. The researchers discovered that, yes, engaged employees can be really enthusiastic and, yep, they can even be madly in love with their job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll perform any better because of it.
Being engaged is merely a prerequisite (rather than a precursor) of performance. The higher performance comes directly from what the researchers describe as “contextual factors in the work environment” that influence employees on whether they should work harder or whether they should just slacken off.
So what are these contextual factors? There are two that tested strongly in the study.
The first is perceived organisational support. This reflects the degree to which employees feel their contributions are valued and their wellbeing is taken into consideration. But the key word here is perceived. You may personally believe your organisation does a lot to support employees but if this is not obvious to them, your efforts won’t be reciprocated.
The second is a positive managerial relationship. This represents the level of trust, respect and likeability that leaders and employees have for each other. If the relationship is weak, employees will be reluctant to invest greater amounts of energy into their role. In contrast, when the relationship is strong, the evidence suggests that better performance follows.
This really highlights that engaging people is always a terrific endeavour but, when it comes to maximising performance, it’s actually not enough.
To download complimentary e-books on employee engagement, retention, and recruitment (valued at over $100), please click