Engagement tends to be one of those buzz words that a lot of people use, but what do we actually know about employee engagement?
When we talk about employee engagement, we are talking about the emotional commitment an employee has to their role. Employees who are engaged report high job satisfaction, are less likely to search for alternative job opportunities, are more productive and put in discretionary effort.
All of these factors have a profound impact on customer/client service and the financial success of the business.
The questions then become; how do we know if our employees are engaged? What are the key engagement drivers? Do these differ from employee to employee? Perhaps most importantly the question everyone wants to know, where do I even start?
The traditional method for measuring employee engagement is to undertake an employee engagement survey. Essentially a business will send out a survey (normally annually) to all employees asking them for feedback around a number of areas related to their role and the organisation as a whole. This information is then reviewed and ideally action plans are put in place to address the feedback.
There is nothing wrong with this approach – in fact we strongly support the value of an employee engagement survey to obtain feedback from your employees. The issue however that often arises is what is done with this information and how effectively the organisation roles out key initiatives to address the feedback. Where a lot of organisations fall down is coming up with initiatives to address the feedback (and having both the time and financial commitment to develop and embed the changes in the organisation) and communicating these changes to employees.
Feedback that is heard often in many organisations is “I completed a survey – but I never heard anything further. What is the point of giving feedback if nothing changes?”.
So how do you know if your employees are engaged?
You engage with them – often. You listen to their feedback and implement initiatives to support their job satisfaction. You empower your managers to hold regular catch ups with team members that focus on obtaining this feedback from their team. Give them flexibility to implement and drive initiatives specific for individuals and the team.
You can support this with an engagement survey but ensure before this is launched that you have both the time and financial commitment to really give it the attention is deserves. If your survey comes back with the finding that 50% of your employees are unhappy with their direct manager, there is going to be a substantial time investment to identify the cause of this and implement change to improve on this.
Holistically you should also look at your turnover statistics and reasons people leave the organisation, particularly for high potential/performers that you wanted to retain.
What are the key engagement drivers?
Relationship with Direct Manager
Many of us have heard the adage that, “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” Whilst the employee experience encompasses more than a person’s relationship with their manager, the fact remains that this is statistically a vital driver of employee engagement
Unsurprisingly, employee development remains firmly near the top of the list of engagement drivers and has done for the past decade. Paradoxically, it is also the area that employees broadly continue to vote as ‘lacking’ in staff surveys.
A common challenge is for employees to view professional development as a medium/long term strategy and understand how it will ultimately affect their career. Furthermore, training interventions can be reactive and often remedial in nature, which will have a minimal effect on retention.
A mythical proposition 20 years ago, workplace flexibility is a hugely influential engagement driver – especially with those employees between 18-35 years old.
It should be clear that flexibility is a great way to help reduce employee turnover and in general, there are two ways you can incorporate flexibility into the workplace:
- Allow people the chance to work remotely. Not having to commute to an office every day can free people up to be more effective in both their personal and professional lives.
- Allow for flexibly scheduling, meaning people still need to come into the office, but they can do so according to their own schedule, provided their output does not suffer.
Successful organisations develop a remuneration strategy that best fits their objectives and values – and one that is built upon a solid understanding of the job markets they are operating in. These adopted strategies are vital in shaping an employee’s commitment, loyalty, performance and how they view the organisation.
Coupling remuneration and engagement by exploring medium/long term incentives may encourage greater tenure and performance.
Organisation Specific Drivers
In our experience, every organisation has its own unique opportunities to increase employee engagement. These might be small incremental changes to existing practices or larger long-term initiatives.
How satisfied are employees in the role they perform? You can have all of the above factors in place but if someone is matched with a role that they do not enjoy, they will not be engaged. It is critical each employee is undertaking a role that they enjoy on a day to day basis.
The above engagement drivers will differ from employee to employee, so it is important that your leaders know what is important to each of their team members and are supported to put in place initiatives/strategies to drive employee engagement.
For more information on the above, please contact us on 1300 887 458 and speak with one of our HR Consultants. If you are interested in learning more about our HR services, including HR Outsourcing, HR Consulting, HR Advisory Services, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org