Although there are many ways to run an engagement programme, there is one common denominator in those that succeed – the leadership must believe that engaged employees are good for the organisation.
This question is like asking, someone “What is the meaning of life?” There will be a different answer from everyone you ask.
Having reviewed some of the best and worst employee engagement programmes across the world, I have tried to distill some key truths.
What it isn’t
- An annual employee engagement Survey – this is an oxymoron. How is doing anything just once a year engaging?
- A ‘warm and cuddly’ initiative that can start and stop – Engagement is business critical not fluff. It delivers competitive advantage and must be continuous like all other critical activities.
Where to begin
- Listening – whilst knocking the survey above, surveys do have their place but on a regular basis. Listening is a vital first step to engagement – Thinking you know best is a recipe for disaster
- Involving, not telling – Having listened, prove you’ve listened and that you value the feedback by involving employees in making improvements to the business.
How will it succeed?
- Communicating your purpose – Getting your staff to connect to the purpose of the business is vital. It’s something they want and will value
- Connecting it to business value– So many employee engagement metrics exist in isolation of actual business results – or the impact on people. Connect engagement to business performance so the boardroom listens and invests. Will a CEO care if employee advocacy is up if it doesn’t lead to an improvement in key business metrics like customer advocacy or revenue?
- Ensure that every line manager gets people engaged – Programmes that don’t have the buy-in of line managers rarely succeed because messages get confused. Employees buy-in one at a time and line managers can provide the transparency needed for employees to connect to a common purpose and feel part of an engaged and energised team.