Employee engagement and organisational pride (article)

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Employee engagement and organisational pride are discussed in this free article by Derek Stockley. Employee engagement is also defined.

Personal pride

On the way to a conduct a training program recently, I re-visited the Latrobe Valley Region in Victoria.

At the start of the valley, as you descend a particular hill on the Princess Highway, there is a vista that highlights the Victorian power industry. Yallourn power station is on the immediate left, Hazelwood power station is on the right, and in the distance, the Yoy Yang power complex is visible.

On that cold foggy morning, I could hardly see the power stations. But I knew they were there.

I experienced the same feeling that I had many years earlier when I used to make regular trips to the Latrobe Valley.

My feelings surprised me.

When I used to make the trips, I often experienced a sense of pride as I descended that hill. Although I was a small cog in a very big wheel (the State Electricity Commission had 22,000 employees when I left), I did feel proud to be associated with such an important organisation. I honestly believed that my work was important and that the SEC was very important to the State of Victoria.

Organisational pride

Organisations with employees who have pride are stronger and healthier than their competitors.

Here in Australia, one of the smaller banks very successfully marketed themselves using an advertising campaign built around the pride theme.

The TV ad showed a man at a social gathering being asked the inevitable question: "And what do you do?" Picking up on the strong anti-bank sentiment prevalent at the time, the crowd is shocked into silence when the man answers "I work for a bank". He quickly recovers and states that "Its O.K. I work for St. George Bank". The crowd is immediately relieved and normal conversation continues.

At the time the major banks were reducing services and increasing fees. Their staff were not happy and many hesitated when asked: "And what do you do?"

St George Bank has grown considerably because of the campaign. I also suspect that good management and an understanding of the importance of working with employees instead of against them has also played a major role.

Employee engagement definition

I define employee engagement as:

The extent that an employee believes in the mission, purpose and values of an organisation and demonstrates that commitment through their actions as an employee and their attitude towards the employer and customers. Employee engagement is high when the statements and conversations held reflect a natural enthusiasm for the company, its employees and the products or services provided.

Employees engaged with their employer are happier and more productive. Organisations should make conscious efforts to encourage engagement.

Unfortunately, Australian managers (as well as international managers) have still not heard the message.

"Disengaged workers are costing Australia's economy about $31.5 billion a year. A new Gallup Australia study found 20 per cent of employees were 'actively disengaged' at work, costing the country billions of dollars.....Employees who are actively disengaged are less productive, profitable, loyal, less likely to provide excellent customer service and are often disruptive."

Any actions taken should be to encourage employees, not discourage them.

Personal reflection

When I left the SEC (State Electricity Commission of Victoria), I established my own consultancy business. I went from 22,000 employees on the Friday to an organisation of one person on the Monday.

It was easy to talk about the SEC. It was large and well known.

It is therefore much more difficult to talk about my current organisation, because as a boutique training business, I obviously play a major part as the business owner. In Australia, talking about yourself excessively is not really acceptable.

I am still proud of the work my organisation does, but I do not like talking about my achievements unless it is specifically something that I have done. When I can, I prefer to use 'we'.

As a personal example of my employee engagement, I often talk about the wide variety of people and organisations we deal with. It gives me a sense of personal pride that we have helped so many individuals and organisations.

What has been your experience?

Are you actively engaged?

What do you say when asked: "And what do you do?"

Do you mention your organisation’s name?

Are your employees actively engaged?

What do your employees say when asked: "And what do you do?"

Do they mention your organisation’s name?

Articles quoted above

* Motivation and financial and non-financial rewards - this article discusses the link between motivation and remuneration, including financial and non-financial rewards.

Related articles

The importance of employee engagement - this article highlights the steps necessary to achieve employee engagement.

How important is management influence? - an article which discusses how important the influence of management is, particularly the influence of managers in senior positions.

Engaging Employees to Impact Performance - an article in Chief Learning Officer that provides some background information about the Gallup poll and employee engagement.

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