Engaging employees in company goals misplaced as workers already support them, says Work Foundation

Employers benefit more from helping workers achieve company goals than trying to engage workers in them, as employees share the same objectives, according to a report by the Work Foundation.

“Understanding the deal” – the fourth report in the Work Foundation’s “Future of HR” research project – examines how employers can create a successful employment “deal” with individual workers, and finds that staff are generally self-motivated to produce high-quality work.

Employees surveyed often attributed this motivation to wanting to fulfil obligations to customers or clients, or gaining individual satisfaction from doing a good job.

In light of this, the report argues that recent focus on employee engagement is misplaced and organisations should instead focus efforts on practical measures to assist employees in delivering high standards of work.

“As part of the drive for HR to earn its position at the most senior levels, the people management discourse focuses heavily on how organisations can ‘manage’ employees to elicit better performance,” the report observes.

“This discourse ignores the fundamental principle that much of what motivates employees is beyond the reach of crude management tools.”

Employees who took part in the research also said that identifying with the organisation’s core values and feeling valued by management were important factors in their relationship with the company.

However, the report found that when individual values were misaligned with those actually experienced by the employee, there was potential for a breakdown in the employment “deal” between the company and the worker.

The Work Foundation’s research was based on 134 employee interviews from Cambridge County Council, Standard Chartered (London and Singapore offices), the Metropolitan Police, PepsiCo, Surrey Police and Logica.

For more information on managing performance in your organisation, read XpertHR’s good practice guide.

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