Employee engagement is a term that has been doing the rounds for a while now. Although christened as such only recently; it must have been around from much earlier. These management concepts took shape only of late, but as a concept, it is likely many businesses must have implemented from many years before this.
Employee engagement can happen in a number of ways. It can be implemented by making the employee more participative in the work. It can be done by taking them into confidence on important matters. Employee engagement can also be done by making them develop their extra interests and talents. Employees are engaged about the growth of the organization when they are made to feel part of the family during outings. And yes, employee engagement can be also when employees are made to participate in corporate social responsibility programs.
Ownership beats all other kinds of employee engagements hands down!
But surely, there has to be one element of employee engagement that far outpaces the rest when it comes to effectiveness. It is ownership. What is ownership? Ownership is when the complete responsibility for carrying out a work is handed over the employee with the feeling that they are the owners of that task.
Ownership is a miracle tool
When the ownership for an important task is given to the employee, the premise on which it is built is the sense of pride and belonging to the work. This can bring out the best in an employee like no other. This is confirmed by many studies. The Industrial Revolution era, when people were not treated any differently from machines, is long behind us. Today, employees are not the people who are in a job merely because they want to earn a livelihood, but because they want to use their talents and make sure that the organization helps them grow to higher levels.
Ownership is all about the feeling of belonging
Yes, monetary reward is an important aspect of work, but more rewarding is the feeling of belonging to an organization. Nothing creates and reinforces this better than a sense of ownership. When people are given ownership, they start treating the work as their own. Its success is theirs, and conversely, its failure is theirs too. When does a person reach this state of mind? It is when what he is doing is his own. It is only when this feeling comes about that ownership can be meaningfully brought about. This is what ownership is all about. Ownership starts with transformation of the individual to the group. When people have a high sense of ownership, they seldom think of “I”. It is always, “We”. This is the driving force behind ownership.
What are the benefits of ownership?
First and foremost, when employees are given ownership of what they are doing; they are made to feel important. It is an idea that works at the root of our existence –recognition. The sense of dignity and respect that they earn when they are consulted and in fact, handed over a piece of work to accomplish with the use of resources at their disposal is something very special. It is something that no other reward or incentive can bring about.
When employees move away from being considered just employees to major decision makers, the feeling of pride and happiness is complete. This is a great motivation for them to work towards accomplishment of their goal in the organization. The feeling of being a valued and wanted employee is a great reason for employees to push themselves that extra bit to give in his best. Nothing fosters teamwork like ownership.
Factors to consider when handing over ownership
Given the tremendous benefits ownership brings; there are a few factors that organizations have to consider when handing over ownership of a particular work to employees. We have looked at the positive side of ownership, but what will happen to the organization which hands over ownership and makes a mess of it?
Whom to give ownership to
Handing over ownership in itself can never bring about problems to the organization; the problem can arise when the wrong people are chosen for ownership. Any employee, whose commitment levels are never beyond doubt, should never be given ownership. This is the most important aspect to keep in mind when it comes to handing over ownership. It is only when an employee work for the team and lives as part of it that he feels a sense of happiness and pride in taking up ownership. An employee whose loyalty wavers is never a good pick for ownership.
What to give it for?
From this follows the next important aspect: what to give ownership for. It depends on the people chosen, because that is what will decide whether it is for small or big or important or unimportant or critical tasks that ownership is given. Management can always use its discretion and do this in a graded manner. It can start with smaller tasks or projects and based on the results, move on to larger ones. This will also help it determine the capability of the employees in taking up ownership.
Implemented right; ownership is a great tool for bringing out the best in employees. It leads to enhanced relationship between employees and the employers, and leads to a happy workforce –the most important asset for an organization.
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