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A practical look at employee engagement

November 29, 2010

Despite the mountain – nay Himalayan range - of literature on the subject of employee engagement, there is still a strong appetite for new thinking on the subject.A month or two ago, Employee Feedback produced a Paper on engagement strategy and we received almost three hundred download requests for it. As a result of the interest in our thinking we then developed a programme designed to put these ideas into practice. This too has met with considerable interest.This curiosity is due in part to the fact that although much is said on the subject, there are few examples of organisations which have truly found practical ways to tackle the problem of how to engage the workforce.Many writers rely on restating generalities. Few have anything like the depth of experience of Vineet Nayar about whom we have written before - . Here is someone who has transformed a very large, global business into what he termed an employee centric company in his excellent book ‘Employees first, customers second’.Nayar’s belief is that leaders are not there to know the answers or to direct their people. Their job is to facilitate the creativity, enthusiasm and commitment of employees. Engagement, in other words. That way, he argues, lies real customer satisfaction and loyalty.One of the many ways in which Nayar has acted out his beliefs is in his approach to feedback: he invites employees to contribute to his and all his senior colleagues’ 360 feedback reports. And the reports are made available on the Company’s intranet.Nayar argues that there a three fundamentally important roles for leaders

  1. Face to face communication to encourage employees to engage with the goals of the business and act to increase customer satisfaction
  2. Facilitating and supporting greater employee engagement
  3. Measurement to focus attention on the right issues

These principles are at the heart of our own approach to engagement strategy, which we believe must begin with measurement of engagement levels and mapping where are the most and least engaged. With that information, leaders can then manage the process of enhancing workforce engagement and monitor progress.Here, we believe, is a genuinely practical approach to engagement strategy.

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