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Example Employee Engagement Initiatives

May 29, 2011

Our last blog looked at ways to increase response rates for employee engagement surveys. Since then I have been looking to see what information is in the public domain which show what companies do to try to encourage their staff to respond – i.e. do companies simply try to walk the talk and prove that they are listening to encourage future employee engagement survey/initiative participation or do they try to incentivise up front as a way of providing motivation?

I had a look around at some of the news material on employee engagement and instantly found some interesting ideas...First off, I found an article focused on Café Nero from HR Magazine dated 20th May 2011. Interestingly, the CEO, Steve Carpenter, said

we are a people business serving coffee, not a coffee business serving people

Steve Carpenter, CEO Cafe Nero

Personally, I love this philosophy – Carpenter has clearly recognised that his main asset is his employees, getting them engaged ensures that they are satisfied and committed to the business and this in turn should ensure that the employees provide excellent customer service. The article suggests that the engagement process starts at recruitment – get the right people into the business, the ones who fit the job, remain loyal and fit the company culture. This is why generally, employees are promoted from within. Additionally, the managers are invited to regular meetings with the Board which are called ‘bitch & whinge’ sessions where their views regarding current issues can be heard. Managers are encouraged to recognise those who go the extra mile with a thank you and a ‘strategic recognition scheme’ has been created to provide company-wide recognition for those doing excellent jobs. Since 2001, Cafe Nero has increased from 427 staff to more than 3000 and their 2010 revenue was £153.6 million, with 87% feeling proud to work for the company.

In an article in The Guardian on the 26th May 2011, Diageo was featured. They have implemented a gold, silver and bronze medal initiative system called GreenIq focused on environmental issues. Whilst many organisations talk about green incentives, very few actually drive the change forward. The article reports that Diageo realised that employee engagement could be a missing link in its bid to achieve a range of tough environmental targets by 2015.

As part of the programmes teams were brought together to work on various initiatives – different levels of Olympic type medals were given for the varying difficulty of projects. The prize was quite sizeable - £15000 to spend on a new environmental project – based on site or more locally. Results seem quite impressive – 60% reduction in use of water at one location and head office managed to stop sending waste to landfill. To ensure that a programme like this works and people buy into it, employee engagement is key. Keeping momentum and ensuring continued participation for employees will be key to ensure that future engagement initiatives are taken seriously and employees get on board.

There are many varied ideas being implemented by organisations to encourage participation in employee engagement surveys or initiatives, ranging from formal to fun – whatever you do, success remains reliant on consistent communication, senior support to the programme and listening to the employee voice as to what is currently happening at grass roots level. It goes to show that if you are looking for ways to encourage employee engagement response rates or uptake to initiatives, there is much in the media which will give you an idea as to what other organisations are doing. For more advice on encouraging employee engagement survey responses, please give us a call as we would be happy to provide you with some further guidance on the process.

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