Sustainable Employee Engagement Codified


HR Team regularly brainstorms   internally about the strengths and weaknesses of HR practices of an organization. During such a brainstorming session, I came across the term Sustainable Engagement. I could relate to it because I was continuously encountering it in some social media platforms.

During the brainstorming session, we took out several individual cases and tried to cross check whether we fundamentally went wrong or we could not do much because of process issues. Before that, I would like to take you through what is Sustainable Engagement.

Sustainable Engagement was introduced by Tower and Watson Consulting, USA and this model revolves around three core pillars:-

A) Being Engaged

B) Being Enabled

C) Being and Feeling Energized

A) Being Engaged:  How much an  employee   uses   his discretionary effort to achieve his goal.


Akshay has booked the tickets for Friday evening to go for trekking along with some colleagues. Akshay has planned to leave office early, at around 4:30 pm. He has taken all the necessary approvals. A substitute has also been arranged for Akshay.  Akshay’s train is at 7:30 pm. Suddenly at around 4:30 pm an important client asks him to work on a query. Akshay has an approved leave, backup is also ready, but he chooses to work on the query himself. He improvises the situation and asks his brother to come to the railway station with the entire luggage while he completes the query and sends it back to the client. He could have easily chosen to work on the query on Monday which was acceptable to the client, but he chose to complete the work – Here Akshay used his discretionary efforts to work for his goal.

B) Being Enabled: A work environment   where   sufficient resources   are   available   t o complete the work without any obstacle.


Reema works for a small Indian KPO as a telecom research executive. Her major work is to coordinate with clients across the globe; therefore her working hours are set according to different time zones. Her major work is to interact with clients through e-mail and telephone. She also needs to attend a number of conference call discussions. To her surprise her workstation was equipped with only a desktop and an analog telephone line. She has several times complained to the admin team about the calls dropping when she is making ISD calls.

Another grave issue is that she has to work in shifts. At 6:00 pm IST it is peak working hours in UK. If she chooses to take the calls from the office, she has to sit there late till 11:00 pm which raises a concern of personal security. Here in spite of her engagement and interest she was not provided with the adequate resources to complete the work.

The HR should have studied the role  of  Reema  and  should  have provided   her   with   simple solutions, like

a) A laptop and subscription to Skype calling facility

b) A smart  phone  with  Skype installed.

c) Occasional approval of cab facility with a security guard accompanying if in case Rita needs to stay till late in the office.

d) Instead of the analog telephone line digital line should have been provided.

In this example, Reema was engaged, but she could not get sufficient resources to complete her work effectively because her work environment was not enabled.

C ) Being and Feeling Energized: A work environment where employee feels energized by attaining a feeling and sense of accomplishment and which is very supportive socially.

Example/ Case:

Amar  had joined two years  back.  He  is  ambitious; everyone in the company agrees that he has a good market value. The HR think tank had predicted that he won’t be staying in the company beyond 6 months but to everyone’s surprise he has completed two years and seems to be enjoying his work. He gets along with his boss very well and is really enjoying his work. In a one to one session with him the HR realized the reasons of his motivation. It is the hike that he gets in completing the work assigned to him. Also he has a g r o u p   w h o   s h a r e   c o m m o n hobbies. When we had a look at Amar’s role we could sense that  individually, physically, inter personally and emotionally he is doing quite well at the work place.

Final Thought:

The  most  important  aspect  of Sustainable Engagement is the enablement. Secondly, the idea of sustainable engagement can only be achieved through line managers who need to focus on the well-being of an employee in terms of his career and his financial, physical and social well-being. We HR need to focus on bringing the balance between work and personal life of an employee.

This article has been published in Delhi School of Economics Annual HR and OD Journal  ”Jigyasa” 2013, Please refer Page 22.

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