Forum: Engaged workplace: Employees need to do their part too

Office workers walking across Raffles Quay on March 7, 2019.
Office workers walking across Raffles Quay on March 7, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

I believe that bosses do play a critical role in enhancing employee engagement in the workplace (Seven good habits for S'pore bosses to emulate, Oct 26).

But it is also important that employees adopt good habits to be more engaged at work. We cannot control our bosses, but we can choose and control our attitude and actions. Here are some examples:

• Employees should have a purpose in their job, one that they identify with. This can be believing in the organisational goals, or the organisation's vision and cause.

• Have a willingness to serve others - clients, or within organisation teams. An engaged meaningful workplace is one where workers can help and be of service to others.

• Have the courage to speak up and try. Professor Tommy Koh shared how he spoke to his former boss about his bad temper, and things improved. Some employees disempower themselves by not speaking up, or retain the status quo by not trying anything new or different.

• Take ownership of oneself. Engaged employees take ownership of their work, going to the team and boss with ideas. They take charge of their own learning and growth. They do not wait to be spoon-fed, or told what to do.

• It is not all about salary. While it is important to be paid fairly, it is also necessary to consider holistically the overall rewards and benefits of the job. These could be work hours, travel requirements, location, bonuses, job security, workplace culture or environment.

• Be willing to do more. Engaged employees are prepared to do more and take on additional responsibilities. They do not take on more work and responsibilities only if promised a pay rise, promotion, or time off.

• Look for the positives. The workplace or boss could be challenging, but there will always be different kinds of challenges in an organisation. Instead of dwelling on what they cannot control, workers should look for the positives in what they can do.

An engaged workplace definitely requires both employers and employees to do their part.

I also think that loyalty and staff turnover are not good indicators of engagement. There can be deadwood and disengaged long-serving employees in organisations too. As long as employees are fulfilled at work, and subsequently leave for "good" reasons, such as to pursue higher education or other interests, it may not be a bad thing.

Quek Hong Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2019, with the headline 'Engaged workplace: Employees need to do their part too'. Print Edition | Subscribe