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Engaging employees

November 10, 2015

Have  we learned anything about employee engagement from the findings of three decades’ survey results? Are there any lessons to can pass on?

There are.

We’ve been taking a look at the strategies of some of our most successful clients and comparing them with others’. And there are three consistent messages which come through.

1. Clarify what you mean by employee engagement

It’s easy to assume that everyone shares the same understanding of  the nature and meaning of engagement, and of its impact on organisational performance. In practice definitions and understanding vary considerably, making it much more difficult to manage. Distinguish two key strands – employee satisfaction and employee commitment. Managing satisfaction with key aspects of working life is more basic and often easier than creating commitment. But both are necessary.

2. Devise a clear, understandable strategy and communicate to managers throughout the organisation

It’s important not to rely solely on exhortation. The most effective strategies usually include four ‘M’s

  1. Measurement of engagement levels throughout the organisation, using professionally designed surveys
  2. Mapping of engagement in different areas and analysis of needs – highlighting where employees are most and least turned on
  3. Management (dedicated) of specific projects / programmes geared to known needs
  4. Monitoring of progress on a planned, regular basis.
3. Identify and manage the key drivers of engagement in your business

These vary among organisations but frequently they include

  • Availability of adequate equipment and other resources – including time
  • Effective internal communication
  • A strong teamwork culture and commitment to mutual support
  • Supportive, facilitative line management who provide encouragement, rewards and positive feedback for good performance
  • Longer term career development opportunities
  • Visible leaders who demonstrably work hard to stay in touch with employee opinion

Where these three elements are both present, and rated highly by employees, we tend to find that those same employees will demonstrate high levels of pride in and commitment to the business and a strong identification with achievement of its goals. In other words, they’ll be engaged.

Most of these points will probably seem like common sense – and indeed they are. But they are not easy to achieve. In future blogs I’ll be unpicking the experience of these companies and exploring the ins and outs of just how they have created such impressive and successful workplaces.

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