Massage therapists and spa owners who have employees should be aware that their performance-management process should evaluate and focus on employee engagement in addition to job performance.

That is the message of a new paper authored by two human-resources experts.

Engagement involves high levels of identification with one’s work in terms of attention, absorption and feeling integrated in the performance of one’s tasks and roles, say the author’s, from the Universities of Toronto and Guelph, in Canada, in an announcement from Elsevier, publisher of the journal the paper ran in.

The paper’s authors contend performance management should involve an evaluation of employee engagement and that for many companies enhancing employee performance can be best achieved by changing the focus of the performance-management process to a focus on the management of employee engagement.

“Many companies do not recognize the importance of employee engagement to organizational performance,” says Professor Alan Saks. “Current approaches to increasing engagement in organizations are limited because they are not directed at individual employees and they are not part of the performance-management system.”

“Engagement helps predict job performance,” says Professor Jamie Gruman. “Employees who feel engaged in their tasks do a better job, are less likely to make mistakes, and bring more energy, dedication and vigor into their performance.

“There is also mounting evidence that higher levels of engagement correlate with lower turnover and less absenteeism,” Gruman adds. “Thus, it makes sense to focus on employee engagement as part of the performance-management process.”

The paper, published by Human Resource Management Review, outlines three psychological conditions that support personal engagement:

• Psychological meaningfulness, associated with the perception that one’s role is worthwhile and valuable

• Psychological safety, associated with one’s perception of how safe it is to bring oneself to a role without fear of damage to self-image, status or career

• Psychological availability, associated with the physical, emotional and psychological resources that can be brought to a role

Saks says there are concrete steps that organizations and managers can take during the performance management process to foster employee engagement.

“Managers should make the changes that each employee needs to experience meaningfulness, safety and feel available to become fully engaged in their work,” Saks says. “Some employees might need more autonomy in their work, more challenge, more input, or perhaps more support or training.”

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