Employee Engagement – A Role for Career Management Professionals in Organizations
By Deirdre Pickerell
As Career Management Professionals we recognize that today’s employees will change jobs (and, quite likely, career direction) numerous times throughout a lifetime of work. While many people become our clients during times of transition, many others remain unhappily employed and unable to easily access career management services.
At the same time, today’s employers are faced with record low unemployment rates and the reality that there are not enough skilled workers to fill vacancies. As a result, the need to retain employees is at an all time high; the loss of one top performer can mean the difference between a business prospering or closing its doors. Simply retaining employees, however, may not result in vibrant, productive work environments. People who are uninspired, unmotivated, or in the wrong positions, may not be fully contributing to projects at work. Employers are looking to “employee engagement” strategies for solutions.
What is employee engagement?
In his book, Getting Engaged: The New Workplace Loyalty, author Tim Rutledge (2005) provides the following definition for engagement:
Engagement: the state of being attracted, committed, and fascinated (p. 13).
Rutledge goes on to say, “To be fully engaged, the three elements of the definition need to be present: 1. Attracted – I want to do this 2. Committed – I am dedicated to the success of this 3. Fascinated – I love doing this” (p. 14).1
So, engaged employees need to be attracted to their job, committed to being successful, and fascinated by the work they are doing. This “state of attraction” is what will allow employees to thrive at work.
Why is engagement important?
Employee engagement is important to both employers and employees. For employers, engaged employees will be more productive and committed to their jobs and are less likely to leave. Employees benefit from being engaged as well – imagine being ready, willing, and excited to be going to work everyday. Reality is, however, that the current statistics are quite frightening: according to the semi-annual Employee Engagement Index in Gallup Management Journal, only 29% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs, leaving 54% not-engaged, and 17% actively disengaged!2
How can Career Management Professionals make a difference?
First, let’s look at the notion of career management – effective career management is more than simply deciding on a career for life; it isn’t a static, one-time process. Instead it involves a continued focus on the workplace, the local and global labour market, industry trends, and how individuals can find a “best fit for now” according to their skills, interests, values, and lifestyle considerations. It is the process of making and continually evaluating career decisions in relation to short and long term goals.
Career management at work is the same process but evaluating career decisions would be done in relation to a specific workplace and/or industry. When effectively managing careers, employees would discover and set career related goals; often against the backdrop of their organization and/or industry (i.e., career goals of employees are “in-synch” with goals of the organization).
Career management professionals are uniquely positioned to assist employers and employees to effectively manage careers within the workplace. Few other professionals have the expertise required to assist workers in evaluating skills, interests, values, and personal style in relation to personal and work related goals while, at the same time, being conscious of global and local labour market trends.
Our skills, knowledge, and abilities can assist employers in bringing career management skills and strategies to their workers. We can act as consultants to assist employers in supporting and encouraging the active self-management of their employees’ careers, designing internal “career fairs” to introduce the concept of cross-training and providing opportunities for employees to learn more about other areas of the organization, as well as helping to incorporate career-related conversations into employee reviews.
We can also play a more active role by creating a career management program within an organization. Such a program might include career related workshops and services for all or selected employees, or supporting individual employees seeking the services of a career management professional or coach.
Employees feel valued when their employer is interested in retaining their skills and willing to invest in their futures. A “good career fit” can result in better job performance and increased productivity – a “win win” situation for both employers and employees. Career management professionals have the skills required to help get the right people into the right jobs at the right time, and help to keep them there. Moving beyond government-funded contracts serving individuals who are unemployed or disadvantaged, career management professionals can engage in proactive and fulfilling work with individuals who are currently employed and organizations or industries who need to keep them.
About the author:
Deirdre Pickerell, MEd, CHRP, GCDF has close to fifteen years experience as an educator, manager, and career management professional. With a background in both career development and human resources management, Deirdre is working to create a stronger bridge between the career management and HR sectors. Deirdre was recently honoured with a 2006 Award of Excellence; presented by the BC Human Resources Management Association.
Deirdre is the Senior Consultant for Life Strategies Ltd. and co-developer/instructor of the internationally recognized Career Management Professional Program. Join her for the course “Career Management at Work: Keeping Employees Engaged” delivered via an interactive facilitated e-learning format March 21st to April 3rd, 2007. Contact Life Strategies for further information (www.lifestrategies.ca)
1Rutledge, T. (2005). Getting Engaged: The New Workplace Loyalty. Mattanie Press: Toronto, ON, Canada.