Stripping the Hyperbole: Employee Engagement Fundamentals

By David Mudd

David is a member of Clarity Recruitment’s Advisory Board and a guest blogger.

He has 15 years of corporate human resources and consulting experience, specializing in HR operations and talent management solutions.

With an MBA in Organizational Behaviour, David helps ensure our company drives real value for clients, candidates and partners. Read more from David on his blog HR By The Horns

I think a lot these days about employee engagement – not in the popular sense, which veers toward hyper-aspirational “employer of choice” thinking, but in a more basic or fundamental way. This focus reflects my inclination toward walking before running and managing stakeholder expectations very, very carefully (it occurs to me that burgeoning low-engagement scores are due in part to the inflated language that often accompanies this topic, e.g. what company doesn’t want to be the “best place to work”?)

So – stripping the hyperbole away, the list below is my take on the primary building blocks of employee engagement. From another angle, it speaks to what an employee should reasonably expect of his/her employer at a fundamental level – and, dare I say, what an organization is obliged to provide its employees. While the list is fairly basic, imagine how engagement scores would increase if more organizations got most of these “bare essentials” right. A future post will offer additional thoughts on the more progressive layers of an engagement hierarchy.

  1. Clarity on what’s important – the essential truth about what’s important to the organization so employees can act accordingly (the core of an organization’s mission and values).
  2. Strategy and leadership – a well-communicated strategy that makes good business sense; a capable leadership team to steer the boat; and, a robust plan to execute.
  3. Integrity and respect – operating in a fundamentally ethical and truthful way; treating employees with basic human decency; and, providing equal opportunity for consideration.
  4. Clear expectations – what is each employee supposed to be doing/achieving and why is s/he doing that (the value this will contribute to the organization)?
  5. Foundation for success – at a fundamental level, expectations line up with the employee’s capability, the mandate/authority of his/her role, and resource availability.
  6. Feedback/coaching – supervisory input regarding employee performance and constructive guidance on how to improve (semi-annually at a bare minimum).
  7. Functional team – supervisor ensures the team understands its objectives and how members are expected to work together, then holds each person accountable for doing his/her part.
  8. Recognition/rewards – at a basic level, the employee is made to understand that his/her effort is genuinely valued and rewarded relative to the scope and nature of contribution.
  9. “Interesting” work – no one should expect to tackle universal mysteries every day; however, I firmly believe that everyone deserves some occasional “spice”.
  10. Sense of the future – no one can operate effectively in a black hole: at least once per year, discuss what the employee wants and how the organization can support those (or other) aims.

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on LinkedIn and Facebook for more great tips and advice.