Nearly 2,000 people registered for our global series of Employee Engagement webinars. If you missed these lively sessions, I encourage you to watch one of the on-demand webinar replays. This blog post answers the remaining audience questions from the sessions that we didn’t have time to address in the live sessions or in our first post here.
1. How is climate different from culture?
Great question, and an important distinction that should be made clear. Litwin and Stringer’s research found that culture and climate both exist in organizations, but they operate at different levels. Culture is made up of foundational elements like shared beliefs, values, and norms of behavior. Culture is deeply embedded in the organization and is slow to change.
In contrast, climate operates at the level of the day-to-day workplace, and the factors that influence climate – clarity, commitment, standards, responsibility, recognition, and teamwork – are more accessible and manageable by leaders. This makes climate easier to change in the workplace
2. I work for a company with international presence, what similarities and differences are there when it comes to employee engagement across cultures?
Our research found that our definition of high engagement – a deep sense of ownership for the organization and strong feelings of involvement, commitment, and absorption in one’s work, which is motivating. It looks like a strong contribution of discretionary energy, which translates into productivity, and it results in improved personal and business performance – holds true for employees and organizations around the globe.
Where we see variation is in employees’ behaviours or the expression of their engagement or non-engagement, which might be more discrete than explicit. For example, an employee with low engagement or satisfaction in Singapore might never voice those concerns to his manager because of cultural norms, and thus he appears on the surface to be more engaged than he really is. But in this situation, he may not be as productive or stay with the organization as long as an engaged employee.
The culture of a country or region is deeply embedded in employees, and they bring those patterns of behaviour and expectations into the workplace. For example, in Asia cultures, employees tend to be deferential to authority and may not even expect to have a voice in how work gets done; therefore, they may not equate being able to speak up as a factor in being engaged. Contrast that with North American or Australian cultures where employees tend not to defer to authority, are often quick to speak up and expect to have a voice – for these employees having a voice would be a factor in being engaged. Bottom line, the best way to understand how to employees is to focus on the individual employee and understand what engages them.
3. Any differences in engagement factors for an aging group of employees vs. younger generations?
Our research found the five employee engagement needs – accomplishment, recognition, enjoyment, belonging, and advancement – were represented though all generations. That said, as the Millennials (born 1982-2000) take their place in the workplace, there is a growing body of research and opinions on how to engage them. Some of these findings show Millennials respond to personalised work experiences, regular (more than twice/year) feedback on performance, and want to be able to contribute to society through their work, to name just a few. There are many resources/books/etc dedicated to helping people understanding generational differences and you can apply this information to addressing engagement needs within your organisation.
4. Do you have data on how to “engage” part time employees and volunteers
This is an interesting question. Although we do not have specific data regarding how to engage part-time or contingent workers, we do have an opinion. We believe, despite the boundaries that can separate these workers that from your full-time workforce, to be highly engaged, a part-time or variable worker needs the same things a full-time worker needs. In a nutshell that is, they need understand the connection their work has to the strategy of the company, to the success of the team, and to their success as an individual. And they to be understood and appealed to as individuals in terms of their own engagement needs.
It’s easy, and dangerous, to make assumptions about contingent workers engagement needs, or lack thereof. The best leaders treat their contingent workers as they do their full-timers. That is, by their actions the leader builds a strong positive climate, shows they are trustworthy, and they take the time to get to know the worker and their specific engagement needs, and treat them according to those needs. It can take more time and effort to understand contingent workers’ engagement needs because they are not always in the flow of work every day; however, it will pay off in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »