The higher employee engagement is, the more willing employees are to put in discretionary effort (such as: go the extra mile). But, employee satisfaction and engagement are difficult to actualise because of employee turnover, dynamic nature of work, existing organisational hierarchy, and differing perspectives among workers, their immediate supervisors, senior management and human resource practitioners. In this case, data sourced through a two-way exchange of feedback and perspectives between employee and employer is critical in understanding the barriers to optimising employee satisfaction and engagement.
Employer-employee dialogue can do more than improving understanding and operationalising measures that enhance work-life harmony. According to ILO Good Practice, the dialogue can provide a way of integrating complex sets of issues into a simple model, which help to minimise disagreements and misunderstanding, produce effective and more positive outcomes, increase and provide more benefits for workers, as well as build trust and confidence from which more mature forms of interactions can emerge.
As employer-employee dialogues are one of great measures to achieve real results, there is a need to foster such an effective employer-employee dialogues within the workplace. Some recommendations can be through front line day and frequent employer-employee dialogues, and appointment between work-life champions.
The two components of this recommendation are meant to be synergistic. For instance:
Front line day is a day when senior management and HR personnel undertake customer-facing jobs for a day. This allows them to develop a firsthand perspective of the challenges faced by frontline employees. Additionally, senior management and HR through their distinct vantage point, might discover potential operational “gaps” which can be optimised to reduce employee workload, improve staff retention, or increase profits. This is particularly relevant when suboptimal processes have been normalised by frontline workers.
Meanwhile, frequent dialogues between the employees, senior management and HR are needed to address improper job sizing. These dialogues would take the form of employee surveys and an anonymous feedback mechanism to capture inputs on workload and the well-being of employees. The aim is to provide an opportunity for employees to share their feedback and comments directly to senior management and HR without fear of repercussions. Areas of feedback would include potential process gaps and company’s culture. This could form the basis of company-specific recommendations to improve productivity and competitiveness while enhancing staff welfare to reduce burnout.
Outside of senior management and HR, employers can rely on work-life harmony champions as they have achieved several successful screening to be an ambassador for the workplace. These champions would be employees outside of senior management and HR, having the autonomy to speak on behalf of fellow employees, who would remain anonymous. The function of the work-life Champion would be to suggest measures that would improve harmony in the workplace.
This organisationally-endorsed conduit would reduce employe’s hesitation to speak up which is particularly relevant for employees who have yet to build rapport with their immediate boss, manager, or HR, whose interests are perceived to be misaligned. Each work-life champion can consider how the suite of available workplace harmony options can be tailored and potentially operationalised to meet their organisation’s specific needs and requirements. Beyond facilitating dialogues on work-life harmony, it is just as important for staff to have working conditions that allow them to better attend to their work and effectively manage their energy.