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Saturday Shoutout!!! Employee Engagement (Death by 1000 cups)

Employee Engagement (Death by 1000 cups) (Part 2)

Issue 2 | Number 5 | 9 June 2012

This is the second of three articles on employee engagement.  The first article examined the basics of employee engagement and the second article looks at the status of employee engagement.

Firstly, where is employee engagement going? Thank you for the question. The answer is: It is on hold at the moment.

At the organisational level, HR theory argues that engaged employees possess a strong sense of organisational pride, proactively recommend their organisation as a good place to work and are committed to staying with their employer.  A fully engaged workforce provides a real competitive advantage to the organisation – research has shown that when employees are engaged, organisational productivity and profits are higher.

If your workforce is not engaged, or is largely disengaged, your organisation is not maximising its resources, does not enjoy employee confidence and is bound to have retention issues.  It is the duty of HR leaders and policy to be clear what the evidence around engagement is and to make it understandable to both business leaders and employees.

The question is … what happens to employee engagement when the newly elected government of the day needs to wind back debt of $85 billion?  In my opinion, employee engagement needs to take a rear seat in the short term.  Since coming to power in a landslide victory in March 2012, the Queensland Liberal National Party has taken an axe and ordered public servants to bring their own tea and coffee to work.

In the Courier-Mail article Death by 1000 cups to save $100 million, the cuppa is one of the first casualties.  While some measures, such as air travel and cutting catering at meetings is perhaps an understandable cost-cutting measure, the removal of the office cuppa, as well as indoor plants in some departments, has left many employees outraged.

The rationale for such decisions may be difficult to understand when it seems that many public and even private sector workers self provide their own tea and coffee, or contribute to social clubs.  However, the real target of such cost cutting measures may be in relation to those morning/afternoon teas and lunches that are provided for meetings, training sessions or even committee meetings.

In a recent LinkedIn HR Group Discussion Forum, an article titled ”Who knew teabags and instant coffee was a perk” was posted and brought some interesting comments …

“It’s the little things that do make a difference to people like the tea and coffee, the microwave and fridge to keep your lunch in.  It is amazing how often this is considered as a money saving exercise when, in the long run it costs so much more in employee engagement!”

”Whilst there may be productivity related issues for against the cuppa, the same might be used in relation to those who have a preference to lighting up”.

“In the overall scheme of things, the cost of a cuppa does not seem to be a large economic cost when one considers the benefits that can accrue.  Unfortunately the focus at the moment seems to be on easy and immediate cost saving measures”.

“Save a few bucks on the tea and bleed thousands on disengagement”.

Although the benefits of full engagement have been established, most people and research take the view that organisations are solely responsible for engagement.  In the article “Who Owns the Employee Engagement: You or the Boss”, the truth is, it’s a two-way street.  The onus for employee engagement does not lie entirely with the employer.  Employees should also work at developing a sense of ownership about the organisation they work in, and they should reflect this in every facet of their work life.  It has to be a mutual give-and-take relationship between the employer and employee for true engagement to be achieved.

Finally, given the number of people losing their jobs within public sector at both the Commonwealth and State Government levels, I personally don’t think public servants are worried about the tea and coffee, they are more concerned about keeping their jobs.

Graphics: Trendhunter

Next week’s blog – Employee Engagement (Part 2)

If you find these updates useful, feel free to forward on to a work colleague or friend.

About the Author

To fulfil his professional and personal career aspirations, Tony Wiggins created ‘The HR Architect’ brand in 2009.  With a well-grounded focus and passion for HR, he thrives on working across his networks as a thought leader in ‘making a difference’ in the HR arena.

Tony Wiggins is the Founder and UX Editor of Saturday Shoutout!!! and The HR Architect Spends 5 Minutes with …. Tony utilises the blog ‘The HR Architect’ as a social media network and platform that empowers HR professionals to network, assist and support one another, spanning different countries, subcultures and niches.  Contact Tony at basketa@optusnet.com.au or on Twitter @tonywiggin.

3 Responses

  1. […] the second article, Employee Engagement: Death by 1000 Cups I asked the question about where employee engagement was going?  The answer is … it is on […]

  2. […] previous three parts to this article – you can find them at Engagement: Back to Basics and Employee Engageement: Death by 1000 Cups and Employee Engagement: Embrace, Empower and […]

  3. […] #6 Employee engagement: Death by 1000 cups. […]

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