In our recent blog, we highlighted that companies are increasingly recognizing the value of always on employee engagement to the workplace, but are sometimes left frustrated, confused or both as to how to make it a fundamental part of their business. While others pay lip service to the idea, yet never quite get round to putting in place a formal strategy.
Bolting an employee engagement programme onto existing processes or trying to reverse engineer it into an ill-fitting people management strategy is always going to be much more challenging than developing it to be a core part of the company’s culture and to ensure buy-in from managers and the top-down. You can find out more tips here
In fact, many organisations fail to get their employee engagement agenda off the ground altogether. More often than not this comes down to one of three factors.
- Lack of commitment – whilst most organisations see the case for employee engagement – they may even say that they encourage it, and give their employees a regular voice in the organisation – there can be a disconnect between what they think and what actually happens on the ground. Call it vision, values or culture, if an organisation does not truly value engagement, it will be absent from its operating structure, processes and systems. Organisations that have high levels of engagement have sponsorship and role models from the top down.
- Lack of experience - despite the arguments, some managers simply do not get it. Their experience makes them think it is quicker and easier to just tell people what to do, or some simply lack the experience of having great role models who have demonstrated the value of engagement. They may never have experienced how it feels to have their ideas and feedback listened to and acted on. Organisations that have high levels of engagement recruit managers who are good people managers.
- Lack of skills – having a motivated and engaged workforce requires managers to have a key set of skills and attitudes that need to be nurtured and developed within an organisation. Skills such as empathy, listening, building trust, collaboration, coaching, and developing others should be seen as part of the requirement of being a manager. Organisations that have high levels of engagement see the development of their managers as an ongoing programme of activity, not a one-off.
The reality is that shifting the needle on employee engagement can be done, but it requires a commitment and discipline in leadership style, behaviour and practice.
A good starting point for any employee engagement programme is an overhaul of the annual employee survey. For too long this once a year, backward-looking review for employees has been the standard in many organisations. While once a year is better than nothing at all, it can be demotivating for both employee and employer and often leaves little time for positive two-way discussion. It can be time-consuming as well, so by the time the process is completed and the data collated and analysed, it’s effectively out of date.
To be effective in measuring and managing employee engagement, it should be an ongoing, always on process that enables organisations to be proactive and targeted, while listening and responding to employees in real time.
Always on surveys can take the form of ad hoc questions about company changes or decisions, or replace the annual review with a regular weekly, monthly or quarterly micro surveys to see how an employee is performing in their role or to get feedback on specific aspects of their job. Analysed in real time, any concerns can be quickly identified and tackled before they become an issue. It also means managers can reward employees and people can recognize colleagues for a job well done.
But as with any aspect of employee engagement you need to make the process is accessible, easy to use and something that employees see as of value to them and the company they work for.
Building and sustaining an engaging environment is an ongoing, proactive process. If companies commit to simplify and streamline their processes, and leaders from the most senior levels to frontline managers demonstrate the desire to listen, respond, and improve, the workforce is more likely to be receptive and supportive, too.
In summary here are our 6 steps to embed 'always-on' employee engagement
- Create an employee engagement vision – what does it look and feel like to work at the organisation, how should employees experience the company, and what behaviour will bring that experience to life.
- Hire great people managers – people who can translate the company’s vision into reality, from leaders who set the tone to managers who are empowered to act.
- Develop key skills – not just in the classroom, but in everyday interactions with people, support managers, so they can clearly see the impact of their behavior.
- Hold people to account – ask employees what is working and what is not working for them, and enable managers to see engagement data/feedback as a fundamental part of business performance and intelligence.
- Have an ongoing conversation – not a one-off survey, but an ‘always on’ dialogue about the things that impact on engagement.
- Create alignment – engagement needs to be reflected in organisational practice, systems and processes.
To find out how ‘always-on’ engagement could revolutionise your organisation and its approach to employee engagement, listen to the webinar with DPG and John Ryder (CEO of Hive HR). Click the image below to listen.