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Employee engagement: finding your solution

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Posted by Justine Woolf on 13 November 2018

Employee engagement: finding your solution

HR Reward | Reward Consultancy | Motivation | Leadership | Employee engagement | Fast Growth | Total reward

At Innecto we work with a lot of fast-growth businesses, and it’s usually due to growing pains on the HR side. A recent example involved a digital communications company where the HR team were so focused on recruitment and bringing people into the business that they had no time or inclination to develop strategic initiatives.

In consequence, people joining the organisation felt slightly lost. They didn’t understand how things worked and what it meant for them in the longer term, especially around their pay and career progression.

You’d expect these employees to feel demotivated and distant from the business. But here’s the puzzler – all research showed that whilst employees did indicate they would like more structure such as obvious career paths and clarity about pay progression, they remained highly engaged. So what kind of mysterious magic is going on here?

Well, it’s a mixture of things, but it boils down to:

  • Clear visible leadership: the senior team are available and encourage everyone to input ideas and thoughts.
  • Trust: there is an implied understanding that employees will do what they need to do, without the need for micromanaging.
  • Genuine manager relationships: where there is regular contact and recognition of effort - nothing fancy, no big recognition initiatives or bonus schemes, but the common ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’.
  • Alignment to organisational purpose and real belief they can have an impact: they really believe in their product and its potential to make a positive difference to people’s lives.
  • Opportunity to develop and be part of something exciting: there is a culture where people are encouraged to put themselves forward and try new things if they want to.

This to me is what ‘employee engagement’ is all about. We bandy the phrase around a lot, but to my mind, the level of attachment felt by these employees to their organisation and its raison d’être is what true employee engagement means.

It’s where people really want to be part of the organisation’s journey. That their input is meaningful and valued, and most importantly, that they feel they can make a difference. A recent article in Employee Benefits magazine described it as “the energised state in which staff are willing and able to go the extra mile in their work and to give it their best.”

And that ‘giving their best’ matters. It’s long proven that improving engagement correlates with improved organisational performance, increased productivity, operating income, customer satisfaction, retention and innovation, and with reduced costs and sick days. Companies viewed as ‘world-class’ have been found to have a much higher ration of engagement to disengaged employees compared to other companies in their sector. So why do some organisations get it so right and others so wrong?

I believe it’s because the balance of engagement elements is out of whack or the elements themselves have seen better days and need refreshing. Just because the current formula may have worked once upon a time, there is a mistaken belief that without attention or focus it continues to work.

But an organisation is nothing without its employees. If you really want the best return on your most expensive asset, a dedicated focus is needed – simply conducting an engagement survey won’t do it. Engagement is not a one-off initiative – it reflects the values and culture of an organisation. In my client example, an organisation has grown extremely fast but hasn’t lost touch with its roots. It treats its people well, it wants to be inclusive and the senior team live these values.

Take a look at your list of engagement elements and ask yourself ‘Do we really do these things well?’ If you think there’s room for improvement, examine each element closely to identify how you can do it better. I can’t give you exact quantities; the mix of elements will vary depending on your organisation, and what works for my client may not work for you.

In conclusion, it’s worth putting some time and effort in to get employee engagement right. A demotivated and distanced workforce will cost you dear and the sooner you start, the easier it will be to address.

To talk to us about employee engagement, call 020 3457 0894 or email Justine.woolf@innecto.com

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