Following the Mindanao earthquake in late 2019 and the Taal Volcano eruption this January, both of which have left many people displaced and affected, companies and corporate foundations mobilized resources and organized relief operations. NGOs, local government units, and educational institutions, among many others, are also doing their share to aid those stricken. From supplying clean and potable water, mounting charging stations, organizing medical missions, to distributing relief packs, these efforts are nothing short of inspiring.
On the human resource front, situations like this provide an opportunity for employee engagement. Schaufeli and Bakker define engagement as “a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption.” It aims to establish a strong connection between employees and their work and company. Engagement fuels positive disposition and higher motivation. When a workforce is highly engaged, productivity is optimized and organizational goals are attained.
In 2019, the ADP Research Institute (ADPRI) measured the engagement levels of more than 19,000 workers. The employees were asked which working conditions they find acceptable and attractive enough to keep them in the workplace. APDRI’s Global Study of Engagement reported that only 16% of employees are fully engaged. This means that the remaining 84% of employees merely come to work for the sake of it and fail to contribute wholly to their organizations. While the report further states that engagement varies based on several factors, the global score gives impetus for business and HR leaders to rethink and reinvigorate engagement programs as an integral part of organizational culture and social responsibility.
When I was tasked to lead our company’s engagement program, I wanted to evolve our approach to lead to a more cogent, holistic, and integrated way of life for our people. I considered not only employee engagement but also a people experience that taps into the hearts, heads, and hands of our employees. I recommended designing engagement, communication, and empowerment activities that aim to: 1.) strengthen the emotional connection of employees to the organization; 2.) increase their engagement through information, learning, and knowledge-sharing; and 3.) nurture well-being, bolster productivity, and cultivate excellence in practice and performance.
The idea of employee experience (EX) has trended in HR circles over the past few years. Ryan Pendell, in his Gallup article “Employee Experience vs. Employee Engagement: What’s the Difference?,” describes EX as the “entire journey” an employee takes within an organization. Engagement and experience encompass a dynamic confluence, but should not be confused with each other. Carolyn Nevitte on LinkedIn defines engagement as the goal, and experience as the means to that end. Experience, therefore, constitutes the bigger picture and expands our customary approach to engagement by placing touchpoints throughout the life cycle of employees.
Creating meaningful experiences to engage employees humanizes the workplace, which advancing technology and changing values have made more complex. As managers, we must strive to elevate our employees’ experiences by connecting them to a higher purpose. In her Forbes article “The Future of Work: Corporate Social Responsibility Attracts Top Talent,” Jeanne Meister points out that employees want more than compensation. Employees yearn for a profound sense of meaning and fulfillment from their work. They desire to take pride in a company that reflects their values and that allows them to make a caring difference.
Our company launched an internal donation drive to help our employees and the local community affected by the Mindanao earthquake. Our employees in Luzon and Visayas pledged financial support through their personal resources, and the company supplemented the amount that was initially raised. The employees’ sheer generosity overwhelmed me. When Taal’s eruption affected a handful of our employees and their families, I was afraid that our colleagues would have already developed donor fatigue. Nevertheless, we again called on our people to donate — and I was proven wrong. The shining display of compassion was equally heartening, thanks in huge part to our employees in Mindanao, who may have felt that it was their turn to help. I believe this was a stellar example of people helping other people and deepening employee engagement and experience.
Michael Angelo E. Malicsi is the HR Business Partner for Support of Goldilocks, a leading bakeshop and fast food chain in the Philippines, and concurrently heads the company’s people experience program. He lectures part-time at the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. In 2016, he received an Australia Awards Scholarship from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government.