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Employeeship – The Better Half of Employee Engagement

 Employeeship – The Better Half of Employee Engagement


Organizations in the past have competed actively for customers and market share. However the changing dynamics in the talent market have now ensured employers compete for the best employees too. Surveys show that to attract, recruit, train and retain the very best people is possibly the single biggest predictor of corporate success.


Claus Moller, founder of TMI, says that organizations which attract and retain talent are not just professionally competent, but emotionally competent too. Organizations need to develop a reputation of being an Employer that takes care of employee development and well-being of its employees.


When everybody makes a whole-hearted and goal directed effort and pulls together, a special kind of personal commitment gets aroused. This personal commitment Moller calls “Employeeship”.


Employeeship is related to emotional intelligence and is characterized by everybody displaying responsibility, loyalty, initiative, trust and energy. Employees who display Employeeship are not just professionally competent; they are emotionally and socially competent too. They are willing to do their best in everything they do. They bring their hearts to work every single day. Bringing their hearts to work needs employees to be proud of the organization they work for. They need to see work as an important part of their lives and see the workplace as temples for actualization. Researchers Wajda and Irfaeya and Liyangyu Liu in their thesis on “Employeeship Across Barriers” explain Employeeship as constituting three parts – Commitment, Cooperation and Taking Responsibility.


Commitment: Commitment is the foundation of Employeeship as employees with high levels of organizational commitment are willing to exert considerable effort for the organization and make discretionary contributions.


Taking Responsibility: Taking initiative and responsibility to become part of the solution is an important ingredient of Employeeship. Employeeship can be operationalized through taking responsibilities. Taking Responsibility is the central theme without which an employee cannot display loyalty, although ‘taking responsibility’ here means feeling empowered. Employees who feel empowered have a sense of belonging and excitement in their jobs – they are engaged at an emotional level and are willing to give their best at all times.


Cooperation: Cooperation encompasses positive relationships among employees within the group. It is the inherent willingness of individuals in a team to pull in the same direction to enable achievement of organizational goals.


If Employeeship is about Taking Responsibility, Commitment and Cooperation, what about Employee Loyalty? After all, the metrics of Engagement are retention and positive advocacy – so any attempt to define Employeeship is incomplete without exploring Loyalty.


Businesses generally understand the need to capture and maintain customer loyalty. Many organizations have formal measurement programs to assess their customer loyalty – in fact; customer loyalty is a metric in their dashboard and a Key Performance Indicator of success. However, when it comes to Employee Loyalty, the connection to business success is not so clearly understood.


The Loyalty Research Center has defined Employee Loyalty as “employees being committed to the success of the organization and believing that working for that organization is their best option. Not only do they plan to remain with the organization, but they do not actively search for alternate employment and are not responsive to offers.”


Employee Loyalty, therefore, is not about tenures. It’s about wanting to be part of the organization’s journey. A recent survey of the American workforce and how they saw their leadership (Branham, 2005) revealed the following:

>Only 39% employees trust senior leaders

> Only 40% employees believe their organization is well managed

> Only 34% employees agree with the statement “I can trust management in my organization to always communicate honestly.”

> Only 50% employees believe that managers in their organization are concerned about the well-being of employees

> A whopping 82% Americans believe that executives help themselves at the expense of their companies


Considering these were the figures before the global meltdown, it is easy to guess how employees feel about organizations and leaders all over the world today. What can organizations do in a complex world with changing talent demographics and aspirations to win Employee Loyalty or drive Employeeship?


Loyalty is like respect – it has to be earned and managers need to be mindful of early warning signs. Addressing these will sensitize us to evoke Employeeship within organizations and create high EQ (Emotional Quotient) workplaces. Some of the signs adversely impacting Loyalty are:


>Indifferent Treatment

Indifferent Treatment has a way of expanding beyond depersonalization. Indifferent cultures can allow Leaders / Managers to stay on board month after month without intervention or coaching. This practice, in turn, forces the best and brightest employees to second guess the ability of senior management as executives and administrators. Personal lives and individual needs of employees are dismissed off in such cultures. Recollection of names, faces, individual talents – all of this becomes low on priority. Indifference spreads like a cancer, making the employees feel not valued and not cared for.


>Control Based Communication

Organizations which follow a ‘Need to Know’ policy on communication are often counterproductive. Research proves that employees who are last to know, view this approach as exclusionary and feel less valued.

>The ‘Need to Know’ or cascading approach soon becomes the default option of sharing all information

> Most information being withheld from team members tends to circulate through the grapevine and at the water cooler; and the gossiped version is often worse than the real version

> Managers who are placed in the position of withholding information or from speaking openly about the truth end up making excuses and committing “lies of omission” when confronted directly by team members


Lack of Autonomy

The more we control things around us, the lesser control we really have. Trying to micromanage things and not providing employees the opportunity to do their jobs by micromanaging them is disrespectful.


Inability to Listen to Team Members

High EQ leaders are adept at gauging their own performance by listening to others. In his book, “7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave”, Leigh Branham framed the importance of listening by identifying the signs of distrust in management:

> Lack of enthusiasm following announcement of new initiatives by senior leaders

> Managers beginning to question the actions of senior leaders

> Increased concerns by employees about policies and practices directly controlled by senior leaders

> Increased grumbling and discontentment among groups of employees

> Low scores in employee satisfaction / engagement surveys

> Active resistance to change


Managers / Leaders need to adopt a Heart-Centered approach to pay attention to these early warning signs and act with high EQ to earn the loyalty of their employees.


That employers must work actively at delivering on their Employer Value Propositions honestly in their journeys of creating a highly engaged workforce is a given. Our focus in this article is on how we can get employees to meet us more than halfway on this journey. Being fully engaged has a positive impact of all aspects of an employee’s life.


Rudy Karsen, author of “WE” is of the view that employees must own the responsibility for their own engagement. It is about accepting the world the way it is and assuming responsibility for one’s career and financial success.


Karsan’s theory on Passion, Pay and Purpose nails the need for employees to be in charge of their own engagement. As individuals, to achieve a deep sense of engagement in our career we need to find the optimal point of intersection between 3 factors – Passion, Pay and Purpose.

Passion is about what we enjoy doing – are good at doing, what is most important and what makes us willing to work hard for.

Pay is to remain focused on the reality of having to earn a livelihood as we pursue our Passion.

And Purpose – deals with who we want to help? Or where we want to serve or in which areas we want to make an impact.


Charting a career path is a key step for Employeeship. All employees need to work on their career and direct their professional efforts with intention rather than drifting aimlessly. The way to achieve this is by:

(a)  Being the best at what you do – this brings recognition, appreciation and opens new windows of opportunity.

(b)  Build a career board of various advisors who can help you build strategies and give advice – people you can speak frankly to you about career dilemmas.

(c)   Invest in your own Learning – don’t wait for the organization to identify needs and sponsor each time. Your own learning and continuous education must have a wallet share and must be prioritized as an investment.

(d)  Build your personal brand – invest in professional networks, relationships and develop a stature for yourself professionally.

(e)   Invest in building relationships. Staying in touch with associates inside and outside the organization, former colleagues, investing in friendships are imperative for success and effectiveness on the job.


People view work as either a job with a focus on money, career advancement or a calling with a focus on contributions. We all have an innate ability to exert our knowledge, skills and talents in ways that increase our self esteem, self worth and happiness.


When employees begin to look at work as only a job for a pay cheque, they end up cheating themselves. When we have goals constituting career stepping stones, we feel shallow and unfulfilled. It is only when we pursue Passion, Pay with Purpose do we experience true engagement.


Our education system lays an overemphasis on development of IQ. Emotional Quotient, on the other hand, is not genetically fixed and can be developed post early childhood years. EQ, until recently, was never measured to ascertain a candidate’s competencies or skills, but in recent times it has rightly been recognized as a key competence for Leadership Success.


People with high EQ can handle problems in the world of emotions. They can motivate themselves and inspire others and are better able to display Employeeship.


EI is the key to Employeeship – it makes individuals and organizations more adept at handling emotions like anger, jealousy and pessimism and arms them with the ability to minimize conflicts, convert opponents into co-players, solve problems through empathy and understand the emotions of others to achieve better business results.


The Views Expressed Here Are Personal Of The Author And Not Representative Of The Organization In Any Way. 


Profile: Dr. Sujaya Banerjee, Chief Talent Officer & Senior VP at  Essar Group

Publsihed With Permission.