Employee Involvement and Workplace Productivity in Today Essay

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Employee Involvement and Workplace Productivity

In today's hyper-competitive, increasingly globalized world, one of the most critical resources a company can wield is their human resources. Maximizing productivity is in today's complicated business environment is a primary method of increasing competitiveness. New technologies and new strategies are sought to increase productivity; however, Rosso (2010) notes there is often one strategy that is overlooked -- employee engagement. This paper will critically assess how employers can use employee involvement and participation to increase workplace productivity.

Employee Involvement and Workplace Productivity

In today's hyper-competitive, increasingly globalized world, one of the most critical resources a company can wield is their human resources. Maximizing productivity is in today's complicated business environment is a primary method of increasing competitiveness. In fact, "while previous generations of work reforms were instigated in the name of more humanistic patterns of work or of the quality of working life, the current generation is more openly driven by objectives of productivity and economic performance" ("The influence," 2006). New technologies and new strategies are sought to increase productivity; however, Rosso (2010) notes there is often one strategy that is overlooked -- employee involvement. This paper will critically assess how employers can use employee involvement and participation to increase workplace productivity.

Employee Involvement Overview:

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Employee involvement, according to Cummings and Worley (2007) is often referred to by a variety of other terms, including: empowerment, engagement, participative management, high involvement, work design, quality of work life, and industrial democracy. Employee involvement involves a variety of approaches to increase participation in relevant decisions in the workplace. "This increased employee involvement can lead to quicker, more responsive decisions, continuous performance improvements, and greater employee flexibility, commitment, and satisfaction" (p. 350).

Essay on Employee Involvement and Workplace Productivity in Today's Assignment

Employee involvement strategies evolved from 'quality of work life' theories in America, Europe and Scandinavia, in the late 1950s. Quality of work life "was used to stress the prevailing poor quality of life at the workplace" (Cummings & Worley, 2007, p. 351). Today, the term 'employee involvement' now replaces the term 'quality of work life', especially in the United States. 'Engagement' has been a popular replacement term. This refers to an employee of the organization's work experience. These employees are "motivated, committed, and interested in their work" (p. 351). Engagement, therefore, is the end result of employee involvement interventions.

According to Cummings and Worley (2007) a working definition of employee involvement includes the organization seeking to increase their employee's input in the decision making process, which affects organization performance and employee well-being.Today's definition of employee involvement includes four elements. These elements are needed to for effective involvement in the decision making process in the workplace. These include: power, information, knowledge and skills, and rewards (p. 351).

1. Power. This element of EI includes providing people with enough authority to make work-related decisions covering various issues such as work methods, task assignments, performance outcomes, customer service, and employee selection. The amount of power afforded employees can vary enormously, from simply asking them for input into decisions that managers subsequently make, to managers and workers jointly making decisions, to employees making decisions themselves.

2. Information. Time access to relevant information is vital to making effective decisions. Organizations can promote EI by ensuring tha the necessary information flows freely to those with decision authority. This can include data about operating results, nusiness plans, competitive conditions, new technologies and work methods, and ideas for organizational improvement.

3. Knowledge and skills. Employee involvement contributes to organizational effectiveness only to the extent that employees have the requisite skills and knowledge to make good decisions. Organizations can facilitate EI by providing training and development programs for improving members knowledge and skills. Such learning can cover an array of expertise having to do with performing tasks, making decisions, solving problems, and understanding how the business operates.

4. Rewards. Because people generally do those things for which they are recognized, rewards can have a powerful effect on getting people involved in the organization. Meaningful opportunities for involvement can provide employees with internal rewards, such as feelings of self-worth and accomplishment. External rewards, such as pay and promotions, can reinforce EI when they are linked directly to performance outcomes that result from participation in decision making (Cummings & Worley, 2007, p. 351).

When all four elements are present, they not only can positively affect productivity but also employee well-being. The greater extent these four elements are made available to employees, especially those in the lower tiers of the organizational chart, the greater the employee involvement will occur. In addition, these four elements are interdependent. They must be all changed to achieve positive results. Cummings and Worley (2007) give the example of when organizational members are given more power and authority, but don't have the skill and knowledge to make the most effective decisions, there is little to now value in their involvement. Similarly, if an organization increases the power, information, and knowledge and skills for their employees, but do not link rewards to performance, there is little incentive for the employee to improve organizational performance, which again negatively affects employee involvement (p. 351).

Total quality management, cooperate union-management projects and quality circles, high-involvement organizations, work design, and reward system interventions are some of the major employee applications (Cummings & Worley, 2007, p. 350). Union-management and quality circles are parallel structures that are affected by degree the four elements of employee involvement are extended down the organizational chart. Applications such as high-involvement organizations and Total quality management provide more opportunities for employee involvement (p. 351).

Employee Involvement and Productivity's Relationship:

It is often thought that improving productivity can be had by simply increasing compensation; however, Wolf and Zwick's (2008) research demonstrated that employee involvement is a much more effective means of improving productivity than financial incentives. Rosso (2010) surmises that "in the workplace, engagement and productivity go hand in hand. Employees who feel engaged with their work almost always outperform their disengaged coworkers" (19). Employees who are involved in their organization create a culture that focuses on performance, and thus productivity. These employees are focused on organizational goals and perform their duties with enthusiasm. Employees that are fully participating in the activities of the company often are enthusiastic about their professional future. This level of engagement is both emotional and intellectual. Employees who are engaged have a comprehensive understanding of their job duties, and their function within the organization is equal in importance to the employee's personal satisfaction with their work.

Cummings and Worley (2007) note that there is a growing body of research that support the linkage between employee involvement and higher productivity. In addition to productivity improvements, organizations implementing employee involvement strategies also typically enjoy improved customer satisfaction, improved financial performance, reduced labor hours, reduced waste rates. Despite this increasingly supported relationship, Cummings and Worley note that the traditional belief that higher productivity is due to increased job satisfaction due to employee involvement is often "too simplistic and sometimes wrong" (p. 352).

Instead, there are at least three ways employee involvement practices, for example increased participation in decision making within the organization, can positively affect productivity. The first way these practices improve productivity is through improved communication, which can lead to improved coordination among employees and departments within the organization. This facilitates integration among the different jobs and departments that contribute to the tasks at hand (Cummings & Worley, 2007, p. 352).

The second way employee involvement can positively affect productivity is through improved motivation of employees, especially as the strategies satisfy individual employee needs. When the employees have the needed skills and knowledge to perform their job duties and when the technology and work environment allows employees to work effectively, increased motivation results in increased performance. However, in instances where jobs are rigidly controlled, with a work environment that doesn't allow for improved performance, motivation… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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