Many HR functions have been downsized, not because HR provides a lack of strategic value but because of the lack of effective marketing. Too often, HR simply fails to provide quantifiable proof of its strategic value in a manner that top managers understand.
What is or is not strategic is determined by senior managers outside of HR. They judge strategic actions or programmes not by the words that describe them but by their actual impact on business results - and this tends to be measured in financial terms.
In today’s business climate, it’s more important then ever for HR practitioners to market the HR function so that the rest of the business fully understands what you do. Rather than just working harder, agreeing to unreasonable requests or focusing on delivering operational changes, a particular series of actions is needed that will win the attention of the CEO and the top management team.
Impressing the CEO and influencing his/her way of thinking is not easy, especially if your function is often incorrectly considered administrative or an overhead.
The first step in influencing the CEO is to understand him. The best way to do this is to identify the hot-button issues that get his attention and also what frustrates him. Business performance is the best place to start.
CEOs and top managers are always impressed by people who understand what is important to them. Hot-button issues are likely to be: share price and shareholder value; customer satisfaction; bottom-line profit; output (volume and quality); business and revenue growth; customer attraction and retention; gross, net and product profit margins and anything that offers a competitive advantage to the organisation.
Find out the top five problems that your top managers face. These will somehow involve people. You can develop a plan to market HR’s capability.
It’s key to be seen as someone who offers credible advice and solutions to business problems. Seek out opportunities to:
Understand what crucial information top managers need to know. Is it a competitor’s activity? If so, talk to former employees that now work for competitors or see if suppliers or other HR professionals can find out for you. Because CEOs and top managers focus on commercial imperatives, HR needs to learn how to look beyond people issues
Identify the top three future problems that your CEO will face and the possible impact upon people and the business. Think outside the box by considering environmental, political or economic factors and reading articles and reports written by industry analysts and reporters
Find out what top managers want from you. Create a ‘more of/less of’ list, which lets you know what they want and don’t want. Try to talk to people or advisers top managers have used, as this should help you to understand how to gain their confidence.
Set the standard for new ideas
HR must become the function in which new solutions are created and the standard against which others benchmark the quality of their ideas. The overall objective is to make the CEO and the top team believe that whenever any outstanding people idea or innovation is implemented, the source of that solution was the HR function. This means spending time and effort focusing on the future rather than being immersed in operational day-to-day challenges.
Find out what information the CEO wants but can’t get (or doesn’t have time to get). Focus on how key competitors address people issues and summarise your findings. Concentrate on the business learning you have established. Be proactive and send the CEO relevant information and answers before he asks for them
Anticipate the needs of the top team by developing forecasts and ‘what if’ scenarios. Ensure that you have a team of trusted HR experts that you can call upon to act quickly and address any sudden crisis that may occur. Whenever a new problem arises, step forward with a pre-prepared plan before others have time to react, thereby showing your proactive and commercial perspective
Look at issues from the external customers’ perspective and use your own knowledge or internal networks to ascertain any changing needs or trends. Then, generate ideas for sales, customer service and product development considering the impact on people, jobs and organisational changes. CEOs and top managers know that customers determine the profit of the company. Again, it is about being credible from a commercial perspective
Ensure that you establish an approach in which you have to work more closely with your CEO and top managers. This will help them to gain respect for you as an adviser on people-related and business matters.
To ensure that you and the HR function become noticed for the things you do, you should:
Manage your ‘internal image’. People often perceive that HR is about routine and less challenging issues. Show how your function focuses on performance metrics and that you can demonstrate how tangible return on investment is possible
Become more visible by volunteering to give results presentations to key managers, to staff forums and in front of the board. Show examples of work or projects, such as case studies. This will ensure that everyone sees your results and business impact
Build your ‘external brand’ by getting articles into the press, technical journals and websites. Promote the CEO’s role in driving the people agenda
Focus on quality. Build a reputation for quality in everything the HR function does. Double check any papers that are going to the top team. All your good work and relationship-building will be wasted if the CEO spots a glaring mistake
Talk in the financially-oriented language of the CEO and the top team by using numbers and data in all your conversations. HR has to quantify its accomplishments in terms of output, competitive advantage, performance metrics and return on investment with emphasis on the future rather than the past.
Show, by using data, what value HR adds either through savings, income generation or other measurable items
Make the CEO and the top team look good because of their commitment to people in the organisation.
Demonstrate a passion and enthusiasm for what you do. Even if they are not interested in your subject matter, make them interested in you
Know the business, and the impact of possible commercial challenges, as well as top managers do.
The key is that whatever is sought from you or the HR function, do not simply satisfy the CEO or top managers, exceed their expectations. Following these tips should help you to become more influential.
A recent survey byGallup indicates that 60% of the millennials are open to new job opportunities, thus making them less loyal to organizations and biased towards the quality of work content.
Now more than ever before in the history of organized employment, employee engagement has become so critical that it has caught the attention of CEOs worldwide.
They believe Employee Engagement is the core driver behind employee-satisfaction, and hence, retention.
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen R. Covey, Keynote Speaker
Stephen R. Covey, author and keynote speaker says that treating employees like customers is the only way to move forward. An unhappy employee will eventually result in unhappy customers.
So, how do we keep employees from abandoning the ship or shifting decks?
Thankfully, there are proven strategies to keep employees engaged and make them willing contributors for the overall objective of a company.
At the end of this guide, you will you will get the Top 5 strategies that you can implement to achieve employee engagement & what’s more – these are absolutely FREE !!! So, without much ado, let’s jump in.
If you search for employee engagement on Google, you will come across a dozen definitions of employee engagement, each more complex than the previous one.
Wikipedia defines employee engagement as a fundamental concept in the effort to understand and describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the nature of the relationship between an organization and its employees.
Difficult to comprehend and makes you want to leave this topic for next day, right?
Well, read this before taking a decision. Employee engagement is simply the emotional commitment the employee feels towards the organization and its goals.
In other words, the personal involvement that makes work matter to the employee.
“Employee Engagement is actually not a ‘thing’ but an outcome. I have often stated that engagement is an outcome of a mutual commitment between an organization and an employee where the organization is helping the employee reach his/her potential, while the individual is helping the organization also be successful.”
On a scale to 1 to 10, the average engagement is 3.8 compared to an all-time high in job satisfaction.
While the terms satisfaction and employment are used synonymously, but are, however, very different. It’s true that all engaged employees are happy, but all happy employees are not engaged. The difference between the two lies in their performance. The paradoxical numbers can prove to be a nightmare for any manager, but don’t worry at the end of this guide I will help you with five strategies to not only achieve employee engagement but ensure that it lasts.
So, what is the difference between the two?
Think about an employee who ticks the box very satisfied in the survey, he is the employee who comes in late, takes an additional hour off for lunch, completes half his targets, takes the full paycheck and exhausts all his paid leaves. He is a very happy employee but is he engaged?
Well no, he isn’t an engaged employee for his efforts and performance are not leading to any advancement in the company. The efforts of an engaged employee go beyond the mere contentedness of their job, their objective is to help with the advancement of the company.The two concepts are related, as employee satisfaction provides the basis for employee engagement to come about. Satisfaction in the job can be viewed as the minimum entry ticket requirements to achieve engagement. The survey suggests that the top contributors to achieving satisfied employees are benefits provided and the treatment received, however, the ones contributing to engagement are opportunities to use skills and relationship with co-workers.
Why is Employee Engagement important?
All conversations have highlighted the concept of engagement and what it means to the employee. But why is it so central for an organization to engage the employees?
Undoubtedly engaged employees are an asset to the company. For, highly engaged employees are:
More customer-centric, creative with their work and take less time off sick;
Inclined towards the realization of future goals and put in greater efforts for achieving them;
Inspired to do their best, and this motivation helps fulfill objectives and reach goals.
These characteristics definitely help create a workforce, full of happy and productive people. What does this engaged workforce then contribute to the company?
Taking a look at the flip side:
To understand this better, let’s see how an unengaged workforce slows down the organization:
Poor Decision Making: Unengaged employees have a limited outlook on the company and its goals.In short-term their contributions may not be a cause for alarm, but it affects the decision-making process and participation levels in the company.
No Focus or Drive: Participation is a pillar for the growth of a company. However, the unengaged employees feel no drive to run the extra mile. For them, it’s just another job paying their bills. This attitude leads to stagnation and ultimately decrease productivity. Leaving little or no room for innovation.
Unwillingness to Train: Organizations spend a lot of time and money in training their employees. This ensures the building of a workforce which can be trusted with work and projects. Unmotivated employees are engaged half-heartedly in these training sessions, leading to poor quality of work which therefore brings down the morale.
Over Hiring: Engaged employees are willing to work and help the team as a whole. Thier motivation and attitude create less need for bigger staffs in segmented departments. This advantage is lost if your workforce is unengaged.
Return from Employees Decreases: The enthusiasm of your employees to novelly solve problems, decreases when they feel disengaged. The “aha” moments, and ultimately their performance takes a hit for the worse.
Thus, a team of disengaged employees results in over hiring, providing additional training that does not change outcomes and paying higher salary with the burden of a stale work environment.
Thus, employee engagement helps you avoid these obstacles and also minimize speed brakes on your drive to succeed. They may contribute as score boosters and power-ups in the following ways:
A thriving environment with a vibrant culture, enthusiastic and involved employees is more likely to retain people.Creating a workspace unique to your company culture will make employees want to spend their time there. Low engagement and turnover have been proven to be correlated time and again.
How can you create this office space which reflects your company? Too complicated a job?
Well, Think again
Here are a few tips which can help you:
An office with no cubicles and an open plan helps create an environment that’s non-hierarchical, where open communication and new ideas can be fostered.
Is creativity central to your business? Try painting walls with blackboards to help employees work on their ideas, whenever and wherever they get one.
Consider adding natural light with skylights or large windows, to create and maintain a fresh attitude.
Infuse fun in the workplace by adding a ping-pong table or foosball table. Helping workers take the stress down a notch, will help you raise profits by more than a notch.
Make sure, you don’t overdo an idea. The idea is to create a mix of places, which has something for all employees. A quiet place to reflect on ideas, a fun space to let out energy and solitude for moments of peace.
An energy drink for better performance:
Employee engagement can be seen as a power booster fuel for the engine of the company. Engagement affects every person inside your organization, and their individual performance affects the productivity of your organization. Research establishes a link between profitability, customer loyalty, and employee engagement.
Ultimate power-up for success:
The passion of employees about their work builds a company’s reputation. This passion comes from the feeling of engagement they feel. It serves as a proof for the new talent joining the company that they will be respected and valued. It also reflects a that the team of managers and culture of the company.
So, now you know, employee engagement is not just a trend, it’s the building blocks required to run a great business.
“In the current volatile and uncertain environment, engaged employees are an essential component not just for success, but perhaps for survival.”
The survey of Gallup reported that an astonishing 68% of US employees are not engaged in their current roles. While 17.5% within this group characterize themselves as actively disengaged. Actively disengaged employees are actively working to undermine the success of their organizations.
These surprising figures incline you to understand how to identify them. Low engagement is like a plaque, which drags down the productivity of the companies.
“Nothing is more harmful to an organization than a disengaged employee, as the impact is not limited to one individual and his performance but also on the group he/she interacts with being negative brand ambassadors.”
However, at the end of this guide, you will get 5 free strategies which you can implement to achieve employee engagement.
So how can you tell if employees are disengaged? How can you take stock of your workforce and determine whether or not the engagement is truly an issue?
Let’s go over some tell-tale signs of disengaged employees and a few methods for identifying them.
1. First, take stock by Conducting a Survey
A survey is an excellent way to gage and take account of disengagement. Gallup offers a disengagement survey, as do several other companies. You can also design your own survey.
These surveys, however, should be anonymous. This means that you won’t be able to pinpoint specific employees who are disengaged. But it will help understand the big picture which is immensely valuable.
2. Stay on the lookout for dropping productivity
When the graph goes in the other direction and doesn’t show growth, its a sign of disengagement. From the organization’s view, it is the most serious and costly consequence of disengagement.
Afterall, productivity is a result of individual contributions and day to day work. This makes identifying long-term trends essential. If the graph is showing a continuous decline it may be because your employee is disengaged.
3. A decrease in Quality of Work
Less output, when bundled with low quality, becomes a warning signal for the company. Disengaged employees not only produce less output but often the work they are performing is below standard.
A brief increase in errors may be because the worker is overwhelmed, either at work or on a personal level. However, a steady rise is often the sign of an employee disengaging. This because they simply are caring less and less about their work.
4. Change in Employee Behaviour
If you notice an employee who was otherwise involved suddenly withdrawn there is a chance that he is becoming disengaged. They may be going into their own zone and pulling out of work. Of course, some of them are naturally quiet, so make sure you measure them accordingly.
Another thing to look out for is the duration of this withdrawal period, if it’s for multiple days or seems indefinite, there is a high chance of disengagement. The best way would be to take a cue in short periods as it might hint at problems.
5. Spike in Anger outbursts
An employee who is expressing his anger towards his team, or managers may be a tell-tale sign of feeling low satisfaction or other issues. If these issues are not resolved, or if he feels unimportant for the company it might cause his to become disengaged.
6. Increase in time spent away from the Desk
Disengaged employees tend to wander away from their desk more frequently. The time spent in taking bathroom breaks or water cooler may increase.
They are consciously deciding to stay away from their responsibilities. Therefore, keeping a general eye on the workspace and checking for such signs can help identify disengagement.
7. Taking frequent “rain-checks” from office events
If an employee who was mostly present at all events and office-lunches, suddenly shows no interest and avoids events may be disengaged. If it happens for a short time it may be because of other reasons, but if it continues you may want to talk to the employee.
One way to understand this would be to invite him out.
8. Early to leave and late to rise?
Missed an alarm? Too much traffic? Had to run an errand?
This may happen to everyone, but if these excuses are used too frequently it might hint at disengagement.
Another sign would be frequent family functions, personal commitments, or simple procrastination used to leave early from work.
9. No Sick days left?
It’s perfectly normal for an employee to experience frail health and take off from work to get better. However, disengaged employees use their sick days as often as possible.
Constant calls on a Monday or Friday by an employee who was relatively looking healthy before he called? This might indicate that he is disengaged and doesn’t want to work or end his weekend.
10. Reluctant to Take Challenges
Engaged employees are always on the lookout for more challenges and are often eager to take on new roles and responsibilities. A disengaged employee will, on the other hand, try to avoid any additional work or challenge. do the opposite and will try to avoid any new opportunities or challenges. They might complain about the burden of their work or simply turn down an opportunity.
But, monitoring disengagement isn’t enough. You have to take action, this doesn’t mean firing the disengaged employee but actively making efforts to remove disengagement.
What are the Key Challenges faced in Engaging Employees?
Employee engagement can be seen as a holy grail for the company, then why aren’t companies doing more to engage employees?
What are the forces which stop managers from putting in the effort for employee engagement? Yes, pay and benefits or even simple apathy can be the strong reasons.
There is, however, more to that. Here is a list of five key challenges an organization faces:
Communication Mediums Used — Sending an email, writing an article in your newsletter, and handing out flyers may seem like a lot of work. But these methods are not effective. Not every employee takes the time to read and understand the message, so the meaning of the content is lost. These tools though easy to disseminate, are often not very timely. In fact, they are often ignored.
Top-Down Communication Only — Today’s employee communication is top-down in nature. The hierarchy is visible, in the way employees interact. This leaves little or no space for sharing innovative ideas, or the company does not actively implement ways for the same. They need to be able to interact in a timely manner with peers, subordinates and most importantly the superiors.
Non-White Collar Employees — Not every employee can have access to the computer, this may be due to lack of resources or lack of training. Companies face serious challenges in delivering strategic content to the non-white collar employees. This becomes more of a hassle, for companies involved in packaging, delivering or manufacturing.
Physical distances and Language differences — There are a various number of offices, and establishments owned by multi-national companies. This increases the mix of employees of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. This results in a need for specialized tailored employee engagement plans. These plans also may find hurdles, as the language and perspectives then become issues. The information and concepts shared may not hold the same meaning for all, making it difficult to have a common vision or goal.
Effective Communications starts with an Effective Leader— The two main controllers of employee engagements are the Human Resource Managers and Internal Communicators. These two sectors need to be working together more cohesively to ensure effective communication.With this, they should ensure a close working net of managers from the IT, marketing, social media and public relations teams to maintain uniformity and avoid confusions.
“Employees don’t trust management. Why? Because employees see managers as deaf to their concerns and uninvolved in making improvements to the workplace environment.”
If companies want to build employee engagement programs that, the first step, would be to address these five challenges. The content they curate will be more easily communicated and consumed ensuring a higher return on investment.
How to overcome the challenges faced?
Identifying the problems is the first step to any solution. Remember your mathematics word problems? Understanding the challenges faced in employee engagement is just as important as understanding if the sum needs to be computed in simple interest or compound interest.
What’s more? Employee disengagement causes the American economy $450-$550 billion a year. The belief that having a good manager will take care of engagement is outdated and a lot more efforts need to be made.
#1) Overcoming the Communication Hurdle
The importance of good communication can’t be overstated. So what appears to be a complicated ball-of-yarn problem can be solved using better communication.
The various ingredients required for employee engagement, like the company values, well-defined roles, recognition require communication to bind them.
“Engagement is about an organization making an emotional connection with its’ employees so that they feel excited and interested in their work. That way they will feel able to give that “little bit extra” when needed.”
Most companies make the error of relying upon and trusting the email system. While email is a fantastic tool, and more a necessary office tool, it’s not the best way for every communication type. There are a number of other communication tools which can be used- some are high-tech, some are simple.
Here’s a rundown of the best:
The Morning Team Hurdle:
For offices, especially smaller ones, morning meeting can be as effective as a morning coffee. It ensures that everyone is on the same page for the day or week. A central meeting space can be used to gather everyone and make use of this tactic. Need a bigger space for accommodating all employee? One possible way is to have an “all-hands” meeting. For bigger organizations often, this is marked as an essential part of the communication weaponry. A town-hall style forum can be used, led by senior managers, where, the updates, vision, current targets can be discussed. A great way to ensure high efficiency would give employees an opportunity to ask questions in a public forum.
Open Sign for the CEO’s Office:
The CEO’s of big companies are availing the idea, of being available for a certain duration of office hours. This is done so that any employee can drop in or schedule time with the CEO, to ask questions, suggest changes or even pitch new product idea.Employees appreciate the accessibility and feel that their ideas and they matter to the organization. For the Ceos, these sessions create value, by giving him an outside perspective and insights into the brand and product. So, this strategy is a win-win situation for both.
Explore the Power of Social Media:
Facebook and Twitter might be synonyms for Social Media, but here I am referring to platforms built for office communication. The information shared on these platforms not only go viral but is the perfect solution for communication problems.
#2) Overcoming physical distance and the language barrier
It’s important to foster a culture in the company, where each employee feels valued and cared for. This problem is so difficult to overcome in small companies, having offices at one location. This same problem becomes 100 times more difficult with a company having offices at not only different locations but in different countries.
So, what should these companies do? Should they take a global approach or a local one to build engagement in its global workforce?
Research finding indicates that the drivers of engagement for each country are different along with differences in employee perceptions about work-often very drastically different. But, a core set of drivers for engagement is emerging globally.
Tips for achieving an Engaged Global Workforce
a) Build “inter-cultural” sensitivity in all employees:
“Intercultural sensitivity” is about understanding the deeper impact of cultural difference on how we interact with other people and the effect this has on one’s own perceptions of other people. This concept is equally important for individuals, teams and entire organizations. To gain the necessary awareness and competence, a combination of formal training and on-the-job exposure is required. A person’s experience of cultural difference both helps form understanding and constraints on how the individuals interact with other people. Moving beyond these individual experiences is important for the development of intercultural competence. Understanding the stages of cultural sensitivity will help remove common obstacles.
b) Additional training programmes:
To transform the “foreign” workers to “domestic internationals”, requires them to be trained in different languages, in the do’s and don’t to another culture, preferred way of communication in a culture. In a way which overall increasing their cultural intelligence.The HR managers can make it a smooth sail for any “Outlander” by ensuring enough training and practice grounds. For instance, they can organize a global leadership development course, which consists of mentoring programmes, virtual multicultural teams, and opportunities to visit global worksites.
c) Increasing the bond:
Making friends at a workplace is important, but making friends in a new country is necessary for your own survival. The manager’s effort to build a good relationship with a new entry, and helping him fit-in will go a long way in making him engaged. One great way to start this process would be learning to pronounce your employee’s name. Or maybe sharing food with your new employee. You never know you might discover a delicacy which surpasses your favorite meal?
#3 Overcoming Challenges of Leadership
A good leader can be the catalyst you are looking for, to make the magic happen. But who is the best leader to lead your team? How can you harness his or her power?
“Leaders engage their teams by giving them a sense of purpose, providing them opportunities to develop and advance, and putting them into positions where they can be successful. People are not afraid of hardworking, they’re afraid of failure, and that fear of failure can make them become disengaged. If their leader doesn’t care about them being successful, then why should they care.”
No, I am not referring to eight different managers, but one manager with all these qualities.
Seems impossible, right?
Well, the list of characteristics, include simple skills which can be easily developed. The strategy should be to look for potential leaders, train them and fill gaps-if any.
“Leaders need to create a context in which engagement is possible. The first output of leadership should be trust and then meaningfulness. Meaningfulness creates direction, trust creates safety. And by giving people the autonomy they can handle (don’t be too pessimistic), and by aligning the job to personal characteristics and needs, and finally by making sure people can progress, leaders, create the best conditions for people to be motivated and even engaged.”
It’s already established that happy and engaged employees lead to higher productivity. A study by Wyatt Watson found that companies that have highly engaged employees produce 26% higher revenue per employee. But what does highly engaged or disengaged mean? How are these levels defined? Why is the definition of these levels important? Why isn’t it enough to just ask your employee if he is engaged or not?
No, because by committing to measure and improve engagement, you’re showing employees that you are truly concerned.It shows that you are making efforts to ensure their well being.
Measurement is the first step of the ladder to reach employee engagement. You can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken. Measuring engagement and understanding the levels will help you analyze the factors working in favor or against your efforts to achieve happy and invested employees.
The surveys and methods utilized to measure employee engagement highlights and bring to limelight the human side of the organizations. This is a reason why it has become an essential part of a manager’s toolkit. It allows drawing insights into the employee’s head, the same people who create the magic inside any company.
With this is the detailed breakdown of data in terms of division, location, manager, or team will enable to remove hurdles causing a slowdown in performances of employees and identify drivers of employee engagement.
How to Properly Measure Employee Engagement?
If you were asked how engaged are you in activities at home? Is it more than your involvement in your workspace? What’s the rate of these engagements on a scale of numbers? If you answer 6, what does this mean?
Finding it difficult to answer, right?
This is because engagement is an emotion. It’s difficult to put a number on emotions.
Consider being asked about experiences in the activities, What made the activity interesting? Or did you at any point feel like leaving it and concentrating on something else? Or were you feeling happy while working on a project?
These questions help infer your involvement. This is why the most common method to measure employee engagement is using surveys. The surveys employed can be off the shelf, proven employee engagement tools or it can be a made to order solution suiting needs of your organization.
The off the shelf approach:
Using generic, well-proven employee engagement tools such as Gallup Q12, enables you to draw on a broad database of comparative data that can be used to benchmark engagement of employees against similar organizations. It’s an excellent measure for validating the effectiveness of employee engagement programs. However, this effectiveness comes with a hefty price tag on it.
The Made to Order approach:
A bespoke employee engagement survey enables absolute flexibility as it measures exactly the most important elements of employee engagement within your organization. A clear picture can be obtained as to how employee engagement is evolving by repeating the same tailored survey at regular intervals.
The drawback is that it is not possible to accurately benchmark against any other organization-wither internationally or by sector.
But what questions should you ask your employees?
After in-depth interviews with managers in over 400 companies, Gallup Organization said that measuring the strength of “engagement in a workplace can be simplified to just 12 key questions (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999), as follows:
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
Is a survey enough to measure engagement?
“Ultimately, it’s the pulse of the organization, what people are saying, feeling and believing about the company. If you’re not sure to ask your employees- “What’s working? Would you like to see differently?” If employees speak transparently with you it’s easy to determine if your workforce, in general, is engaged.”
–Amber Lloyd, Global Leader HCM Strategy & Customer Engagement, Infor
Asking your employees, once or twice a year about their feelings and activities is not enough. In this day and age, when all of us have the pulse to get on with new trends and live it all up.It’s important to know the “pulse” of your employees, to keep them interested and involved. And, surveys alone are not going to hack it.
What are the Ways to Measure Employee Engagement?
Read on, to know a few ways you can use to measure employee engagement on a regular basis.
“Measurement needs to be transparent versus anonymous and if the measure of engagement needs to be anonymous we may have a bigger psychological safety issue than an engagement issue.”
A student who likes attending school has good attendance records and better grades. The attendance percentage and overall performance are directly related to his involvement in school.
Unsurprisingly, the same hold trues for employee engagement. A study suggests that you should aim for 10% or lower for employee turnover.
2. Pulse surveys:
Like the name suggests, pulse surveys are quick surveys designed to understand the health of the company. It’s super easy to administer and score. The number of questions ranges from 5-10, asking employees about how they feel working in the company. The frequency of the survey should depend on the effectiveness of the company to act on the feedback gathered.
3. One on One Discussions:
One on one meetings is a great way to foster better employer-employee relations. It proves as a great measure for measuring employee engagement. For these meetings are safe and more details.Allowing you to get a real sense of what’s going on with them. The key is to remove fear so that the employees can open up. This step by step guide will help you crack the code.
eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) is a snapshot of employee loyalty and engagement within their company. By asking a simple question “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely is it that you would recommend this company as a place to work?” you are able to classify employees. The ones who score, 9-10 are “Ambassadors”, 7-8 are “Passives” and 0-6 are “Detractors”.
5. Stay Interviews:
It’s important to know what you can do to improve employee engagement, but it’s equally helpful to know what you’re already doing correctly. Conduct interviews with your already engaged employees, to answer the question why they stay? Exit interviews are great to collect formal feedback, but it is too late for you to do anything for the outgoing employee. On the other hand, having a casual conversation to understand the motivation of your employees helps.
Here, are questions you can ask:
Do you think you share a friendly relation with your manager?
Describe your perfect workday?
What is the one thing that gives you “Monday-blues”?
Will you recommend your friend to work with us??
What are the Drivers of Employee Engagement?
What’s next? Measuring was the first step. As an organization, you need to ensure continuous improvement of engagement. You need to understand the drivers of employee engagement for improvement and keeping disengagement minimum.
1. My Company: Discovering the why in pride
It’s a simple concept, you’re proud of your company so you will work hard to continue being proud of it. This pride comes naturally if you ensure alignment of your employee’s vision and long-term goal with that of the company. For this, the “why” of the company has to be clearly defined. For some companies, their objective of why they work can be summed up in a line, and for some, it’s more implicit. This objective should be made the reason for employees to ditch their beds and get to work. Simon Sinek demonstrates in his widely popular TED Talkthe power of this ‘WHY’ and how it can be used to drive the What and How.
2. Personal Growth: What’s in it for me?
Employees need to feel that they are continuously growing and improving, both personally and professionally. If the work-force feels like the work is stagnating and hitting a plateau, they will not feel like giving in their best. For, there is no rise resulting from their efforts. Like most factors, there is an emotional component to personal growth which supports engagement directly. The growth of the company and community is desired, but you have to look after their self-interest as well. This makes an atmosphere of continuous growth not only desirable but necessary.
“Understanding individual career goals and purpose can go a long way in addressing many engagement concerns that crop up as a result of the dissonance between personal pursuits and the company’s bottom-line and operational objectives.”
The work culture has evolved from being authoritative to being inclusive. Making executives comfortable to be themselves. Likewise, individual employees are also relaxed. This comfort of being “true selves” enables to build personal bonds. Recently Gallup found that close work friendship boosts employee satisfaction by 50%, while people with a self-described best friend at work are seven times more like to be fully engaged.
“The most common causes of employee disengagement come down to low fulfillment and a lack of support from their team members and leaders. This causes low engagement, and really hinders employees’ ability to endorse what they are doing at work.”
Corporate social responsibility is on the rise, its place in business is often questioned. Skeptics argue that building the core value of social impact is against the nature of profit making. But valued employees-like human beings in general- love to feel that they are helping others. Altruism is on its own a reward, enabling employees to use their social conscience at work. This, in turn, fosters feelings of growth, meaning, and pride. A study found that management consultants who participated in a voluntary social impact initiative at their firm were up to 32% more likely to stay with the company as engaged employees.
5. Being fair: Pay structure and benefits
Do you think your employees are paid fairly? are you paid fairly? Do your employees know that they are paid fairly? The perception of employees towards their work is as important as how they perceive the returns they get. It’s common for employees to feel that their pay is less compared to the efforts they put in. Or that their colleagues are getting paid more for the same work. How do you then change this perception? The only way is to be transparent. The employees should know how is their pay decided? How can they maximize it? Another way is to increase incentive pay, this not only improves engagement but also makes the employee feel recognized and valued.
6. Well-being: Striking a balance
Showing concern for your employee’s health is not just limited to being a nice gesture. The Harvard Business Review found that on average, employees who invested in comprehensive health and wellness initiatives saw a nearly 3 to 1 return in money saved. The health campaigns are a brilliant idea, as it plays a role in creating the oh-so-important emotional connection between employers and their employees. One caution is to encourage participation in these activities but always keep it voluntary. In order to build this, the campaigns have to become a part of the fabric of the company’s culture. Focusing on one-off perks won’t yield benefits.
7. My Manager: People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers
The quality of your management team holds the power to make or break employees willingness to be engaged. Great managers make bad environment bearable, and a great manager with a great environment-trumps all card.This is because the relation employees feel with their managers is directly related to their feelings of belongingness.
“If managers don’t listen to their employees, mistreat and don’t show appreciation for the work performed, employees will no longer care and at the point, work is just a “job” to pay the bills.”
“Again, effective drivers can vary significantly between organizations, industries, geographical regions and countries. However, my first point of call for most organizations would be line managers – they have a disproportionate impact on employee productivity and giving them the basic skills to manage employees is never money wasted.”
Thus, by focusing on hiring and training stellar managers, you can harness significant increase in engagement and retention capapbilities of your company.
8. Leaders: The drivers of the company
Leaders are the ones who steer the company’s growth by providing it direction and a sense of purpose. If the employees don’t have faith in the leader, they will always be apprehensive about giving their all. The daily habits, demeanor, participation levels, and communications of CEO’s and senior managers set an example.This example has a trickle-down effect and ultimately, influences everybody engaged in the company.
“Leadership is about action and not a position; hence it is critical for leaders to build a culture to harness talent. Leaders who can be trusted upon, processes that are realistic and meaningful create an engaged culture.”
You read a dozen articles, came up with numerous strategies to try, but still, you calculate that the employee engagement in your office has not increased?
Nothing can be more frustrating than not achieving desired results.
So what did you do wrong? Maybe nothing or everything
The myths of employee engagement are a common reason why Managers despite all efforts, and researchers cannot crack the code to employee engagement.
Here, are pins of myths to break your bubble:
1) Providing space flexibility to employees improves engagement:
While providing opportunities to employees to work from home on their discretion, may benefit them for short time. Ultimately, this leisure backfires as they are not connected with the day to day activities with the company. It sure does avoid hassles of traffic, and neat code, it also results in missed opportunities and low motivation. Research shows that remote workers with flex time schedules receive less coaching and mentoring. This results in less institutional knowledge and in turn, low productivity.
2) Money equals Engagement:
Money is a strong incentive for people to work, but it is not the only initiative. Also, it should be understood that fair and equal pay is not a bonus, but a necessity to maintain good work culture. For years, managers have tried to increase the economic incentives to solve problems of retention and engagement. But, this may work for a handful of people. Most organizations are finding that employees are looking for more than just good pay for their jobs.
For people want a workplace which rewards them in terms of more educational opportunities, challenging projects, and a sense that their career path is growing.
3) Providing Freedom to Employees is a necessity:
“With great freedom, comes great responsibility”. This dialogue, from Spider-man, holds true. It’s true that some amount of space should be given to each employee, to showcase their individual strengths and innovations in their work, but complete hands-off management will leave them directionless, and prove to be de-motivators.
Also, it should be realized that not everyone prefers autonomy. For some employees it may turn out to be a true benefit, for some a nightmare, making them feel that their work is a burden. Um, confused?
Well, it’s simple, get to know your employees, and what works for them before you decide to give them complete freedom.
4) Assuming a Job is just Work:
I have already emphasized the importance of value creation and personal growth the Millennials are looking for in their jobs today. An employee spends around 10-12 hours of his 24 hours daily in office, if he feels it’s just a job he will never evolve. This feeling of stagnation is the worst nightmare of the workforce today. The work has to add meaning and purpose to their lives. This is the mantra which should be followed by engaging employees.
5) Limiting the positions and roles for employees:
It’s absolutely true, that the employees should know their roles and duties for better connection and productivity. But, if this job profile stays the same and doesn’t get any additions, in the long run, their performance will start going down. Imagine you go to the gym daily and do the same set of exercises for more than a year, your body will eventually stop transforming because it is used to the work given to it. The same happens with the employees
When employees feel that a company is invested in their growth, they are more committed to their role and more connected to how they impact the success of the company.
6) Too much emphasis on the Company’s Brand:
The final bubble which I want to pop is that a brand name is not enough to keep and engage employees. Sure, if tomorrow you go and purchase a Jimmy Choo heel, you will be inclined to use it or gift it to your partner. But, imagine, if the leather chips off? Or the heels break?
Will you still continue buying from Jimmy Choo? Well, I hope not.
It’s essential for the brand to live up to its name, ALL the time. Otherwise, employees will shift loyalty. After all, employees are your first customers.
A well thought out, employee engagement program considers the individual strengths and weaknesses of the employees, tries to customize work assignment accordingly and build the employee’s career while building their Company’s castle of dreams.
How do the Leading Organisations keep their Employees Engaged?
Why is that some companies are considered great places to work? They have a stellar reputation, and to add to that the employees of the company never have a complaint.
Do these companies have some magic solution to employee engagement?
No, because there is no magical solution. If you try to replicate the efforts of these companies, without understanding your own employees you will never receive the same results.
But these giants do have something in common- they understand that employee engagement is a key business strategy which is a responsibility of everyone and not just the employee.
It’s worth reflecting and understanding what made the employees of these corporations tick.
Here are some which I found was food for thought:
TRANSPARENCY IN AND BY GOOGLE:
Google has been very careful of the culture which they create inside their organization. One big chunk of this culture is that it is based on transparency. They have successfully implemented breaking down of barriers. This has helped employees, to feel empowered and share their creativity. Google, has formalized that employees should spend 20% of their time, not working but engaging in activities of their choice. Ultimately the idea is to create a culture of getting work done the right way.
Organizations which focus on transparency, engage employees more than those of who don’t. Employees like being a part of something where they are kept abreast of developments and shortcomings, this makes them feel a personal connection with the company.
“It’s crucial to provide employees a transparent and secure platform, to express their feedback and to promote them to do so – may it be internally, in workshops or in public.”
Today, when it’s about competing and getting things done, companies often overlook “how” were things done. American Express changed the trend 25 years ago, by equally weighing the “how” and the numbers. In order to create a proud culture, one needs to understand the impact of their behavior. It may not be possible to reach the top otherwise.
Behaviors are a mirror to how we think and act with others. Understanding the impact of behaviors helps understand employees at an emotional level, which is where engagement takes birth. Successful businesses do pay attention to this factor and therefore, learn to value employees as people. You can’t have someone bringing in the bread for the company and then behaving really badly with others. It simply destroys harmony and culture. Thus, the high performers in big companies understand the responsibility they shoulder.
EMPOWERMENT IN AND BY JOHN LEWIS
A word can have strong influences- this fact was proven by John Lewis. He calls his employees partners, this instantly shows how much he values and cares for his employees. Immediately the employees feel like a part of something big. The message that they share a responsibility towards the company and its customers is packed in this one word-“partner”. Also, this company makes efforts to make them feel like one by involving them in decision making, and problem-solving. Thus, they are empowered to create great customer experiences
Employees who are invited to be involved do feel more empowered and are eager to take on more responsibilities to achieve the best for the company.
EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT IN AND BY HYATT
Hyatt- the Hotel chain, has cracked a full proof way to engage their employees and keep them engaged. They empower each employee, by listening to them, and the guests too. Employees are encouraged to come up with solutions and solve problems using novel ways., making the associates and guests feel special. Hyatt is known for high employee turnover. And the focus it gives to the development of each associate plays a big part in this.
The commitment placed on employee development helps trigger their inner motivation. Also, continuous improvement with constant change helps inch closer to success.
LISTENING IN AND BY VIRGIN
The Virgin company has more than 39,000 employees, working across 35 different companies. Despite being a multi-industry organization, the unity of this name upholds is commendable. Virgin, has found that listening to their employees, goes a long way in showing them that they are valued. Encouraging healthy debates, help to exchange ideas and continuously innovate.
Listening is a two-way street, people cannot only listen to respond, but to understand. It creates a win-win situation, as the organization keeps learning, and the employee feelings of recognition increases.
All these tactics, and strategies, have one common central part. You know what it is?
Yes, that’s correct, the way you perceive and treat employees. If you treat your employee as a human first, and workforce next, you are more likely to triplicate their engagement.
“Employees want their voice to be heard, so you must build a two-way communication culture where people can express their ideas, opinions, feelings, and complaints. Why? When an employee thinks their voice matters, they feel validated and important.”
What can Start-ups do to Achieve Employee Engagement?
Let’s be honest, hiring an HR professional may not be a top priority now. It may seem like hiring a maintenance crew when the rocket is not ready to launch. Developers, marketers, and coders are the ones getting the appointment letters as of now.
But at the same time, you are aware of the importance of a driven team, and its ability to make or break your hot business idea.
You may be falling short or funds to spend on employee relations now, but you know you need to convince your talented crew to work at their best possible front.
Fuelling them becomes all the more important, because of their lower salary and uncertainty of the company’s future. It will be easier in the initial months, for they share your vision, but the challenge will be to keep this flame from burning out.
So, What can you do?
Here is a list you can choose from:
Build Your Team
The priority is to make your employees feel they belong. In order to achieve this, building teams are the foremost thing to do. Encourage teams to have their own values, assign group projects and take those team photos.
Make Work Fun
Create an environment, where employees can use work and fun in the same sentence. Have board games stacked up in the canteen so that people can bond over those Taboo words, and Poker faces?
Another fun way would be to have theme office days. For instance, have a pot-luck luncheon at your office once a month.
Celebrate All-Big and Small Achievements
Recognition is one of the primary driving forces of employee engagement. Recognize efforts of your employees and acknowledge them. Address these achievements in your morning meetings, make them feel like they are making a difference. Or, have a green board put up so that these efforts can be rewarded.
Make Your Office More Quirky
Nothing can be more demotivating than seeing old office spaces, with no color around. Add color to your office space. It can be small changes like colored coffee mugs instead of the boring white ones. Or, simply adding colored post-its and papers for jotting down discussion points.
Give Your Employees Space
Expecting employees to give you all their time is unrealistic. Make sure you encourage their individualities and support them to work on their personal projects and hobbies. This makes them feel cared for. Another great way to create a win-win situation would be to make employees discuss their personal projects with others. This will help them discuss new ideas, which may benefit them to brainstorm ideas for your company.
Ensure, however, that these ideas are implemented in addition to work done. It cannot only be about coming to the office to win a round of your favorite game. A balance has to be struck between duty and fun to keep them engaged.
5 Key Employee Engagement Strategies to implement today?
Without much further Ado let me share with you the five strategies you can use. What’s the bonus, you must be wondering, these are cost-free.
#1) Be the No.1 Fan of Your Company
You may already feel you’re one, if you do, you are halfway there. The next step is to know how to show it.
Let your excitement be contagious so that people catch on with it. Whether you are the sole member or a team of co-founders. You have got to promote your company and skyrocket your idea to your employees in your own unique way.
When you do this, however, keep your expectations a reality. It’s not possible to make your employees feel the same amount of drive you feel towards your company. View it like having a baby, you feel the need to obsess over it because it is yours, others will find it adorable and attaching but can never reach your pedestal. The key here is to find people, who already feel 50-60% attached to your company so that you can cultivate that to a 70-80%.
Here are a couple ways which you can try:
Do-Not Micromanage but Do get Actively Involved:
The idea is to show you care and are there to offer inputs when needed. Take time out and find what’s motivating your employees to work, and why they perform better in one task and not the other. If you think it is too time-consuming, let me assure you it is worth it.
“What people don’t like are managers who micro-manage and tell you what to do, not seeing how what you do makes a contribution and blame cultures.”
The best way to make an employee recognized is to notice their efforts and boost it by appreciating them. You could install an Employee Shout-Out board, to track their big and small achievements. But do ensure you don’t over-do to an extent that the employees don’t feel the need to improve.
“Employees do not want recognition, but to feel appreciated. Really appreciated. This is an area where most organizations fall short.”
Reiterate your position as a leader, by focusing on team building, don’t be a bully or an annoying professor, who finds flaws for the sake of it. Do critically evaluate business meetings and ventures, encouraging inputs from all employees along with suggestions.
You may think of a dozen criticisms while the presentation is on, but hold on to it, structure your feedback and deliver it in a holistic manner. This makes the employees feel that you listen and are not trying to undermine their efforts.
#2) Have Fun with Your Employees
Don’t be the boring boss, who pushes employees into activities where they attend a seminar half-asleep. Be the fun boss, who caters to their interests and well-being.
How do you know but what your employees want?
Simple, ask them.
Arrange activities according to their interests and not your own.
A tip: Be impulsive, don’t make it a Friday evening ritual.
Find fun activities which all your employees will love, how about a game of poker over lunch? Or maybe plan a day-out to the gaming centers?
Team up and build teams in the process.
Regardless of what activity you choose, ensure that a good engagement will take place, if:
It appeals to employees interests
It makes employees interact with each other
It’s sheer fun and not a sugar-coated way to make them work.
#3) Don’t be a Hero, Do Delegate
It’s important for you to be in contact with the development and happenings of your baby’s life, but it’s equally important for to you to pick the right person and delegate the responsibility. The people you hire should be mature to handle situations of conflicts and crisis.
Hence, for this having the morning meeting, I spoke about earlier may prove to be the most noteworthy of approaches.
Afterall, you only have two hands.
#4) Don’t Pamper, Do Care
It’s emphasized again and again to treat employees as people first, but go a step ahead and treat them as your own people. Remember their birthdays, give them sick leaves, add bonuses if they impress you. These small things and efforts go a long way to make your employee feel social and cared for.
Another strategy would be to celebrate cultural festivals and give them small gift hampers. This will not show your cultural intelligence, but also create a culturally competent environment.
#5) Don’t Be Greedy, Do Share the Limelight
Who doesn’t like being recognized for their efforts?
Being a manager and the driver of your company engine, it’s up to you to make sure everyone gets their chance to be on stage and feel indispensable. Small rewards will create huge impacts. Put in place a reward system for “employee-of-the-month”, you could award this individual with a small trophy or medal to commemorate his success. Or, ensuring a fair system where hard workers are identified and promoted will also help motivate others to perform.
“Employee engagement is an outcome, not a goal, so if employee engagement initiatives are done independently, then they’re really unlikely to be impactful. Ensuring employees are engaged should underscore and inform every business or human capital decision a company makes; engagement isn’t a stand-alone strategy. It’s a fundamental business value every business should value.”
Being trendy is synonymous with being up to date and informed about the world around. So, what is the talk of the town on employee engagement? What new strategies have been brought to light? And more importantly, which ones have become outdated?
Spotlight on Career Paths
Not having a clear career path, makes employees apprehensive about their growth and like I mentioned, stagnation is a nightmare. Companies are finding out that the workforce which senses that there are no more opportunities to grow in the company are more likely to leave.
Focusing on this line of thought this year can help you not only retain, but create a symbiotic situation for both your company and your employee.
Make an effort to talk to employees about their dream careers? Their dream work-spaces? And accordingly, facilitate whatever opportunity you can.
Old Is Gold
Research suggests that re-engaging old employees is 25% cheaper than to create new engaged employees. What’s more? The old employees are experienced and are already an asset to your company. It’s equivalent, to rediscovering your old savings account and finding that you have a bonus interest payment from your bank.
The older employees with their expertise can make excellent mentors and role models for other employees. With the new age realization of investing in one’s health, this year rediscovering the magic of old is gold, can help create value for your company.
Balance of Work-Life
I know it’s not a new concept- then why is it a trend?
It’s rediscovering its importance, not in form of table tennis tables, and break rooms, but in form of actually incentivizing work-life. More and more employees want the flexibility of working from their area of comfort, to not be too engrossed in work, and to catch up with their lives outside the office.
And a new trend of applying for consultancy jobs or freelancing is to achieve this flexibility. The Millennial, I guess, want to be in control of their time and life always.
The Burial of Annual Surveys
Being more engaged requires effective and regular communication. In this year, where people turn to new fads and influences every day relying on one annual survey, will not break any deals. Another factor adding to the death of these surveys is that with social media, employees are more involved in each other’s lives, and the need to fill out a formal survey just for the sake of an H activity, let’s face it, is not appealing nor honest.
Talking about feelings of employees in one to one meetings, and collecting constant feedback in a non-judgemental culture, is the way to move forward.
So get your pulse surveys in place, and purchase more open signs for your CEO’s office!
What did you learn? Summing it up
So, that’s it. Now, you know the ABC’s of Employee Engagement.
Engagement is more than Satisfaction-Measure employee engagement to improve it-Use your Office Space cleverly-Balance it out in payments-Take care of your employees-Identify Inspiring Leader-Learning from the giants can never go wrong-Knowing is not enough-Act on it!
You can start by selecting small ideas, and see their effect on your employees. Make sure you measure before you draw conclusions. Ask your employees what they want, and start working with them!
Let us know if you have innovative strategies for engaging your employees, and how you came up with the ideas?
We decided to voice this question to a group of HR experts, all coming as this multifaceted question from entirely different industries, with different outlooks, pressures, and expectations on them.
“Ironically, one of the greatest threats to work-life balance is the rise of constant connectivity as, while enabling employees to work flexibly and remotely, it also makes it more and more difficult for them to switch off from work.” – Shaun Subel, Strategy Director at VitalityHealth
So, what does the future hold for HR and what does that mean for the future of work?
Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK
Over the last decade there’s been a huge shift in the way we work thanks to developments in connectivity and technology. These developments have made it easier for people to work wherever and whenever they need to, with greater speed and better results. By putting mobile and digital at the heart of the workplace, with people, processes and information interconnected, employees become more agile. They’re also able to work more effectively, be more productive and better meet customers’ needs – both in and out of the office. Our Working in the UK research revealed that 43% of employees work from a customer or project site to some extent.
This reinforces technology’s role in creating a workforce that’s better connected and more collaborative.
Jenny Taylor, UK Graduate Apprenticeship and Student Programme Leader at IBM
… what does the future hold for the world of work and HR?
The digital revolution is changing the face of British businesses. In turn, businesses must adapt to fit a changing workforce if they wish to innovate at the same rate as the emerging technologies that are transforming their industries. It is time for businesses to address issues such as the skills debt and the economic realities of training workers. The technology industry, in particular, faces the challenge of a significant skills shortage – especially with regards to recruiting high quality IT employees fit for ‘new collar jobs’. These jobs require vocational training and development of technical skills over traditional style academics. So how can companies hire for the business of the future, ensuring that their workforce are fully equipped to take on roles that go hand in hand with emerging technologies?
Firstly, there needs to be a change in perceptions around vocational courses. It is only with a change in attitudes to traditional methods of hiring that the skills gap can really be addressed. As we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, it is time for employers to reflect on the value of taking on apprentices. Successful apprenticeship programmes provide fresh and insightful ways of businesses remaining inclusive and contemporary, and are an excellent way for companies to ensure that technology moves along with the next generation. What’s more, businesses set to gain trained, loyal and high-quality professionals. Indeed, IBM has found that apprenticeship retention is high.
Never has it been more apparent that huge change is needed to support the dramatic acceleration and evolution of technology. In order to do this all stakeholders must come together to ensure that apprentices gain the skills they need to actively contribute to Britain’s digital future. It is only by openly acknowledging this necessity for collaboration that businesses will be able to dismantle long-held social and institutional perceptions of apprenticeships as the ‘poor relation’ of university education.
Dave Millner, Executive Consulting Partner, IBM Workforce Science and the @HRCurator (on twitter)
… what does the future hold for the world of work and HR?
The future of HR for me revolves around 4 key themes, embracing technology that enables HR to focus on added value activity, commercial bottom line focus, designing organizations for the future and building capabilities to meet the new demands being made of HR.
Technology is critical to HR’s future, whether it is chatbots, augmented intelligence-based systems or new platforms to operate by – all of them require careful and robust testing and implementation to ensure that the credibility of HR is enhanced by these methods and provides an aligned database for the future. This leads to the need to have a commercial bottom line focus. For years I’ve been talking about HR as a profit centre not a cost centre and we need to make a mind-set shift that focuses on revenue and growth not just cost (which to be honest is relatively limited) and hence the focus on analytics – it demonstrates HR’s value! We’ve known intuitively that what we do is important and adds value but we now have to prove it and analytics is part of that challenge. Additionally, analytics is not just not just for the large corporates, every HR function should focus on this for the future – we have to talk the organisations language (money, cash etc.) not our own language.
The future of work and the challenges that a more digital environment will bring are an amazing opportunity for HR to get on the front foot and help shape and design what that future organisation should look like. Organisational design seems to have fallen off the HR toolkit and is one of the most strategic interventions we can get involved with. Yes there are no clear answers but that is where we have to challenge and shape the business to understand the reality of new technologies, new processes and most importantly the employee experience as change continues to become the “new normal”.
Finally, the need for a mind-set and a set of behaviours that drive performance, challenge the business and facilitate the future are crucial and we need to move away from being just a knowledge-based discipline. Of course, our knowledge domain is vital but the behaviours we operate by in the future will shape the perceptions and ultimately our credibility with leaders at all levels.
“Home and remote working should be the norm in all companies.” – Andy Thompson, HR Manager, Bede Gaming
Inji Duducu, People Director, Rewards & Employee Services, Morrisons
… what does the future hold for the world of work and HR?
The future of work will be both highly automated and highly human. The rate of automation is picking up pace, and though I’m not convinced by the “half of all jobs gone by 2030” hype, it’s easy to see how machine learning and robotics will do more and more work. Conversely, jobs will remain where customers require something that is uniquely and essentially human.
Machines might be able to fool us online, but face to face we know what people are like, and our brains are particularly attuned to social interaction. We will want service, healthcare, complaint handling and leadership (among other things) from a human being. There could also be some fascinating interfaces – for example, (at the moment) people are required to write the personalities of your AI and chatbots – a whole new creative industry, I can’t get my head around the economic implications of increasing automation. I see some predictions that we will all work less but be better paid – wishful thinking maybe? We might have considerable underemployment or unemployment – will the benefits be shared so that customers can afford the goods and services the robots produce?
Only time will tell!
In the meantime I am teaching my kids two things:
1) If your future job depends on your uniquely human social and relationship skills relationships then you’d better be good at them
2) Be polite to Alexa, so when machines take over they will know you welcome your new robot overlords.
Shaun Subel, Strategy Director at VitalityHealth
… what does the future hold for the world of work and HR?
A number of factors are driving the rapid evolution of the modern workplace. Millennials, who form a growing proportion of the workforce, have different expectations of employers than previous generations – of increasing importance are employers’ attitudes towards workplace health and wellbeing, work-life balance, and even social and political issues. At the same time, technology has changed the work environment itself, with increasing digitalisation and remote-working techniques to an extent rendering the concept of a workplace obsolete.
A variety of key challenges for employers are emerging as a result. Ironically, one of the greatest threats to work-life balance is the rise of constant connectivity as, while enabling employees to work flexibly and remotely, it also makes it more and more difficult for them to switch off from work. This has a negative effect on both their health and productivity. In addition, research from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace has shown that while flexible working arrangements can be beneficial for employees’ health and productivity, the ability to work from home, a key benefit of technology, does not bring the same benefits. This highlights the importance of a physical workplace, and the positive social connections and networks that exist there, in supporting employees to make healthy choices.
Additionally, the demographic shift in employee populations is creating a number of complexities for employers. Our research shows that while the average UK employee has a reduced life expectancy of around four years as a result of their physical and mental wellbeing risks, the risk factors affecting employees differ substantially depending on their age. Of particular concern is the fact that mental health issues are magnified among younger generations, with employees under the age of thirty reporting significantly higher incidence of depression and work-related stress. Whether this is a naturally occurring demographic trend which may improve over time, or a result of the changing demands of the workplace on individuals, remains to be seen.
Taking note of the challenges, it is clear that investing in the health and wellbeing of staff should be a top priority for employers going forward. It is a desirable benefit for all ages, particularly the growing proportion of younger workers; it helps to mitigate the negative effects of stress and other mental health issues that are prevalent in the younger workforce; it enables employees to be healthier and more productive; and it reduces the sickness burden, a clear societal benefit. However, employers must increasingly recognise that a one-size-fits all approach to managing the health and productivity of their workforce is not effective. The composition of the workforce will continue to change, and employers must consider how to integrate new employees, new work practices and new technologies to create a work environment that better enables employee health, engagement and productivity.
Neil Humphreys, Partner, Howgate Sable
… what does the future hold for the world of work and HR?
The millennial-minded generation, who are now entering leadership positions in numbers, will undoubtedly help define the culture of the early 21st century workplace. They’re armed with fresh ideas, attitudes and technical knowledge, and this is making them attractive to forward-thinking businesses.
In today’s rapidly changing market, attracting and retaining talent is often a priority to secure the future growth and success of the organisation. Millennial-minded executives will make up the majority of the board in the near future, so they will have a significant influence on the dynamic of the workplace. They will expect freedom, independence, recognition and control of their own destiny, as in fairness did their predecessors. We also have to understand the key differentiator is technology. The eldest ‘Millienial’ is 38, they are not a homogenous group but have a better grasp of operating in a technologically enabled world than their predecessors.
Current execs also need to consider how their behaviour and leadership techniques will create the benchmark for their successors. Every generation has its own approach to work and millennials often challenge corporate cultures that have taken years to implement. Businesses should encourage a balanced board and a mix of voices, but there needs to be an element of discipline and boundaries to maintain the internal stability of the organisation.
Jan Mueller, Managing Director of Talent Acquisition Solutions, EMEA, Futurestep
… what does the future hold for the world of work and HR?
Living in a digital revolution, which is at least as significant as the industrial revolution, technology is shaking the foundations of the workforce. Indeed, computers are already surpassing the human brain at sheer processing, and the true era of Artificial Intelligence is not too far away. In fact, our latest global research found that almost 9-in-10 talent acquisition professionals said they are “excited” by the prospect of working more closely with AI, and only 11% thought AI would replace their jobs.
Although emerging technologies such as AI is set to reshape the future of work, it will be humans who will really accelerate its impact. For instance, technology like AI will help remove the mundane process side of things, helping free up time for employees to do more creative work, whilst data analytics will provide powerful insights that can enhance decision-making and inform more valuable relationships.
So what’s the answer to help people and technology work together? Immediate changes to education will be needed in order to upskill the workforce for the expertise needed in the future, such as creative thinking, problem-solving and agility. But it doesn’t stop there. Current employees must also be given continuous training opportunities too in order to acquire new, specific knowledge and skills, often related to technology and its applications.
With an underlining concern that automation will replace humans’ jobs in the future, it’s important that business leaders, politicians, and workers’ representatives ensure a true partnership between people and technology in a bid to reveal greater value for organisations.
“Machines might be able to fool us online, but face to face we know what people are like, and our brains are particularly attuned to social interaction.” – Inji Duducu, People Director – Reward & Employee Services, Morrisons
Andy Thompson, HR Manager, Bede Gaming
… what does the future hold for the world of work and HR?
The future of work has to be focused on people and technology. I still see a lot of companies still using outdated practices when it comes to how they treat their people and what technology they use to run their day to day operations. Collaborative tools like Trello, Slack, Jira and many others help departments be much more efficient and productive. Companies need to treat their staff like adults and give them the flexibility to work when they want, and from wherever they want – home and remote working should be the norm in all companies.
Some people assume that someone who works remotely is more distracted because their ‘boss’ isn’t within shouting distance and can’t keep tabs on them. But, a study by the Harvard Business Review disproves this, noting some companies saw worker productivity increase by 13.5% after permitting remote work. Of course, you need to hire the right people in order for this to work, but then hiring the right people should be the core focus of any business because it is people who will drive the culture.”Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
Employee Engagement is usually confused with Employee Happiness. However, it is much more than that. It is simply understood as the employee’s emotional investment in the company and its vision.
It is a complex concept to understand with so many definitions available, and even more difficult to implement. With the onset of the global community, the number of opportunities for your best employees is not less.
Most managers think increasing pay, and simply by moving employees up the ladder is enough. Or, maybe arranging an office party will do the trick. However, the key is to make your employees feel cared for. This is how you will keep them from shifting companies.
How do you show you care? What strategies and tactics do the experts in this field use? What are some new ideas that these brightest brains have come up with?
We asked global experts a few questions to understand their perspectives and approach. The aim is to learn and adopt better strategies for making lives of managers a little easy.
Here is a list of brilliant ideas from the horse’s mouth themselves.
For him, Employee Engagement is the “difference between success and failure, and its a leaders number one job to get their teams engaged.”He explains what an engaged team is:
“Engaged teams go the extra distance, they deliver better services, and they achieve better results. Engaged employees stay longer with companies, they’re more committed and help build a culture that delivers sustainable success. Leaders engage their teams by giving them a sense of purpose, providing them opportunities to develop and advance, and putting them into positions where they can be successful.”
The real measure of employee engagement is the side effects and benefits of this practice. He explains, “If your company has high turnover, high absence then you have low engagement. If your company underperforms compared to others in your sector you have low engagement. Whereas if your staff work long hours without being asked, if they deliver above average results then you have high engagements.”
According to him, 95% of the times poor leadership is the reason for disengagement. So, the best practice would be to have in place effective leaders and opportunities for growth.
The winner of Lifetime Achievement Award for Trust, and author of a dozen books when asked shared his views on best practices of employee engagement. According to him, Employee Engagement is “Quite simply, employee engagement is do your people want to come to work and do they like the work they do. Too often we add too much consultant speak on topic of what should be a straightforward topic.”
He said, the best practice to achieve effective Employee Engagement is:
“Get involved with employees. Let them know you are willing to make difference. Align the purpose — what you do — to their purpose — what they do.”
“When managers listen and give employees voice in their work, things improve.”
The global Employee Engagement speaker defines it as “good work done well with others every day”.It is about benefiting both the individual and the company. He recommends using measures of employee engagement which are transparent and helps an employee map his own measure. The potential causes of disengagement according to him ranges “from individuals not knowing how to best engage themselves in their work to leadership and management thinking engagement is about “them”(the other employees) and not also about themselves.”
He says engagement is not mechanical and it is about creating an environment. For him engagement ‘thrives on respect, meaning, results, wellbeing, invitation, conversation, personal responsibility, and mutual accountability.’ He emphasizes that it is a daily process and not a program. Practicing communication, recognizing engagement and constantly making improvements will help create engaged employees.
“So it’s about leadership, culture and people strategies.”
He emphasizes on using principles of behavioral sciences and design thinking to help create the right environment. According to him, “there are no quick fixes and if management is not willing to invest time and effort in it, there is no way to move forward.”
The key global influencer understands Employee Engagementas the emotional connection an employee feels with the company. He emphasizes that it’s a part of the manager’s role to engage employees and is “nothing extra”. For him employee engagement is about 4 elements:
The level of pride that the employees have in the organization that they work for
Their level of satisfaction with the organization as a good place to come to work
Their willingness to recommend the organization as being a good place to work
Their level of commitment to the organization; would they move elsewhere?”
The main causes of disengagement revolve around lack of follow-ups, barriers to completing work, low levels of trust, non-involvement of employees and lack of actions in part of the managers. He sums up the best practices that have emerged from his experiences as having a clear strategy, high levels of employee involvement, demonstration of business outcomes of engagement, increasing accountability in employees and listening to the employees.
Being a Thought Leader, Dr. Robin Kierra has a unique proposition to measure employee engagement. He recommends reading reviews of the company on social media and the internet. He says ” to find out if my employees love or hate my company – I would start with the internet and social media though”
The key driver of employee engagement in his experience is the leader. The qualities demonstrated by the leader is the one which sets the trend for others to follow.
When asked about what would be an effective programme for engaging employees he said:
“Instead of designing sophisticated processes and rules that enable a 19th century culture of command and control, its crucial to see the employee, not as the enemy that needs to be ruled and regulated, but as one of the keys to success. Treat them that way. I experience companies that did this. “
The author of Employee Engagement for Dummies and many more understands Employee Engagement as an outcome and not a “thing”. He recommends partnering with an outside firm to conduct surveys for employee engagement and calls it the “diagnostic tool”.
The most common cause according to his experience is lack of trust and a dysfunctional relation between the boss and employee. He speaks in detail about his observations and research in his keynote speech: Empathy is the New Black.
He insists on investing in communication for creating effective employee engagement, he says:
“Commit to communicating with all employees every month from the C-Suite level, weekly at the first line level. Invest more in training and development than your peer group. Pay at the 50% level, but incentivize at the 75% or higher level (engagement is about building a culture of high performance so one needs to sure they’re truly recognizing and paying for top performance).”
When we asked this global leader and TedX speaker about his definition of Employee Engagement, he said:
“It’s a means to be an actively participating citizen of the world and a means to be part of a contribution to something greater than yourself.
How secure would car parks be without you? How much love can you put into making a coffee for someone? How much joy can you bring to someone helping them choose the perfect gift for a loved one and how much care can you put into the cleanest place for people in their twilight years?
It’s this engagement I like.”
So, what according to him is an effective programme for Employee Engagement?
“I’d, therefore, like to us unlock the secrets of how to create a working experience people love – not tolerate or are consumed by (because overwork is as bad as poor work).
One where we teach good corporate citizenship because we are liberating people to discover who they are, and all the time creating the best company to work for and to do business with. It’s doable if we decouple from our revenue-based obsessive management and instead turn over businesses to thrive on the power of people set free.”
According to this expert, who has more than 20 years of experience, employee engagement needs to be measured and changes need to be IMPLEMENTED. He suggests measuring employee engagement by measuring employee turnover, surveys, and participation.
An effective practice to IMPLEMENT would be continuous improvement through intake sessions with employees.
A former Fortune 50 executive, swears by using standardized surveys for measuring employee engagement. According to her, it’s really simple to engage employees if you take care of these four key areas:
Getting the right person in every chair
Creating a Line of Sight
Building a Two-Way Communication Culture
She says the secret is to engage senior executives “Because if you think about it, senior leaders can get managers to do things that HR cannot!”
And when asked how do you engage senior employees? She answered:
“Data. Executives love numbers. Why? Because you don’t get to be an executive without learning a thing or two about numbers. Executives present numbers to their boards all the time and are judged on their ability to ensure the numbers are directionally correct. Therefore, gather all of the compelling data you can find which shows the correlation between employee engagement and profitable revenue growth, and share it with your senior leaders (data can be found on my website). Savvy leaders will get it and will agree to champion employee engagement and empower the managers to act.”
For him, Employee Engagement is simply employees caring about their work. The measurement of engagement is subjective, according to him. He likes to use attrition rates to draw a correlation and ask employees for feedback. He says employees need to feel like they have a voice and that someone is listening in order to be engaged. He emphasizes the importance of work culture and chemistry to achieve engagement.
Giving the workforce a sense of ownership, aligning their interest with the company, trusting them and being flexible are the primary drivers of engagement. He explains further that,
“Employee engagement is an outcome, not a goal, so if employee engagement initiatives are done independently, then they’re really unlikely to be impactful. Ensuring employees are engaged should underscore and inform every business or human capital decision a company makes; engagement isn’t a stand-alone strategy. It’s a fundamental business value every business should value.”
He understands Employee Engagement as “maximizing employee productivity by creating the right conditions to motivate the employees”. He strongly believes in measuring engagement by productivity. He says,
“If I wanted to measure employee engagement in any specific organization, I’d start by asking what stops people from being the most productive they can be. Most employees can’t answer this very well because they don’t have a wide enough perspective so I’d interview senior managers, customers, and corporate functions, undertake process reviews and compare (where possible) with competitors. Only when you think you have an answer to this question, would I talk to employees.”
When asked about what practices should an organization, he recommends starting with the basics. “For me, start small and begin with the basics – upskill line managers, make sure employees have the best tools for the job, ensure they know what’s expected of them and how the organization will judge them.”.
Being, a veteran in his field of strategic thinking, and people management skills he understands Employee Engagement “on-going process to develop an employee (skills/talent) to ‘go-beyond’ with a purpose to achieve organization’s growth.”
A common cause of disengagement according to him is a “lack of a platform to share disengagement and lack of intent in addressing disengagement”
He recommends strengthening and working on the organization’s culture and advises to “create a culture towards harnessing and empowering talent, transparency and participation, open leadership, team building and people-centric”
The global speaker understands Employee Engagement as the “extent to which employees feel connected and motivated to the work they do”
She enumerates the reasons for the disengagement. According to her, toxic leaders and hostile work environment makes employees feel helpless and can cause disengagement. She also talks about the importance of social assimilation in the workplace to avoid disengagement.
She highlights transparency in work and effective communication, as main drivers of employee engagement. The best practice according to her, is to understand the “why” of how the employees will benefit from this employment. She speaks about syncing the personal goals and operational objectives along with a regular evaluation of opportunities being offered. And lastly, she talks about balancing efforts made for individuals and for the collective workforce.
“A mix of initiatives that address individual development and the employee experience at scale will allow you to address any blind spots that can arise when relying solely on employee survey data and one-size-fits-all employee engagement programmes.”
The Chief Officer and Founder of Happy, does not use the term employee engagement. He stresses on creating a happy and fulfilled culture. For him “it’s not about improving your communications or agreeing with a new set of values to put on the wall and forget about. It’s about creating an organization which fundamentally trusts its people and give them the freedom, the resources and ability to do a truly great job.”
He believes in measuring happiness and fulfillment of his employees by simply asking the employees. The driver of employee engagement in this fast moving world according to him is having few restrictive policies and more trust in the employees. A way he ensures this in his company is by letting employees choose their own managers and the role of the manager is to be a coach. He says a manager “is somebody who cares about you, who supports you (and challenges you) and helps you find your own solutions.” This approach is clearly working as Happy was ranked among the top 20 workplaces in the UK for 5 consecutive years.
The Forbes Coach understands employee engagement as “higher profits and better attendance”. He highlights that employees don’t salute and say yes, but ask why. There are no more safety nets, all employees want a competitive work environment with opportunities to grow. He calls this “new loyalty”.”Giving it their all and questioning current reality. Both the employer and the employee have to give something to make it work and they both get something in return.”
According to him, reasons for disengagement are personal. One common reason he talks about is the brand value of the company.He says,”When their organization has a strong respected brand they are more likely to be engaged. One aspect of the brand is the ability for the brand to impact the local and/or broader community. Especially with the younger generations, employees want to feel they are making a difference. They want to know that their organization is more than a profit center.”
The best practice to engage employees is to not make it a program. Instead, weave it into the fabric of the work culture. It should reflect every day in meetings, relations and in the management style.
He focuses on building great workplaces by promoting creativity, innovation, value based leadership and learning. For him Employee Engagement is offering discretionary effort over and above the role. The boost in productivity encourages employees to offer more discretionary effort, which in turn creates more enageged employees.
To measure Employee Engagement he recommends simply asking about and discussing the working environment with the employees. He reiterates the triumvirate outlined by Dan Pink in his book Drive where he argues that when staff have no autonomy, mastery or purpose in their work they become increasingly disengaged. According to him there are four lessons for building an effective employee engagement program, first is to simply understand the reality of the organization, next is to negotiate what steps are to taken for improvement, followed by making these changes and delivering on promises, final step is to monitor the impact constantly.
He understands Employee Engagement as the passion the employees feel towards the company and the extent to which they voluntarily own the purpose. He talks about measuring employee engagement by using pulse surveys, the number of meetings missed and feedback.
He highlights the reasons for disengagement as an unsupportive team, no trust in leadership and clash between personal values and that of the company.
According to him, three ingredients are essentials for making employee engagement a reality, these are
Design initiatives keeping in mind the values of the organization
Use technology as the base for immediate communication, connect, & engagement
The 2017 communicator of the year engages employees at Cisco by encouraging them to share their stories on social media. The stories of employees are way more trusted compared to a brand saying it. In order to drive this engagement, she believes it’s important that the employees understand the WHY and then to trust them to carry out the work in their own way.
The measurement of engagement differs from team to team, for the internal employee communication team CISCO measures it by the share of voice in social, the reach they get, how much engagement (preferably the engagement RATE) they get on each social channel, how many people are clicking to visit their website, how many people actually go through the process and apply, etc.
She says the best practice to gain employee engagement is to encourage their individuality, treat them as VIPs and share the metrics with them to let them know how they are benefiting the company.
The global leader of HCM strategy and Customer Engagement at Infor understands that Employee Engagement is often misunderstood as happiness. For her “being engaged boils down the factors that make you do your best and deliver the best possible outcomes in the workplace.” She believes it’s about the pulse of the organization and recommends talking transparently with employees to assess engagement.
For her driving employee engagement depends on providing the right mix of factors to the employee. She says,
“Regardless of an employee’s generation, I believe it’s offering a personalized experience to each employee, having the flexibility to support the needs of that employee. For some employees, this can mean flexible work schedules so they can ultimately support the demands of their family, it can mean working on a product, project that they are excited about, or it can simply mean being recognized for key contributions. The important thing to remember here is it’s never just one thing, it’s a combination of all these factors and the nuances vary by person.”
The best employee engagement practice according to her “is one that takes into account a number of factors to empower the employee – equitable compensation, employee recognition programs (both financial, personal and social), employee development, career growth and opportunity, career transparency (view to what’s possible within the organization for each employee), comradery with colleagues, clear vision and values from the organization. ”
For him, Employee Engagement is having a meaningful experience at work. Being the managing director of MotivationWorks, he encourages to measure employee engagement by motivational quality. He highlights that using surveys and other tools will just indicate a lag in employee engagement without any insight into the causes.
The main factors for disengagement according to him is “low fulfillment and lack of support from team members and leader”. And he highlights three main drivers to be “autonomy, relatedness, and mastery”. He says,
“We all know that we need to satisfy our hunger to survive, but we also need to have autonomy, relatedness, and mastery to thrive at work and feel engaged. Teaching and empowering leaders in these needs and mentoring them in how to use them has proven to increase performance, enjoyment, and learning.”
The head of Human Resources at Dulux started her career as an organizational psychologist. She draws insights from her personal experiences to help us understand employee engagement and its implications in the workplace. According to her, managers should take frequent walks to understand if the employees are engaged or not. For her employee engagement always depends on the leader. She strongly agrees that “Culture is always leader led”
She sums up her seven learnings into these steps, first is to assess the underlying causes of employee engagement, second is to break the pattern followed by consolidation. She says, “The ABCs of change can help to create an engaged culture where employees go ‘above and beyond’ to deliver outstanding service on a daily basis.”
It’s evident that even the experts face challenges when it comes to employee engagement. Its benefits are already known and I am sure with these recommendations from the pioneers will help you reap the benefits.
A Quick Overview
It’s important to maintain transparency with the employees
Feedback should be an ongoing process, and not an annual activity
The effort of managers has to reflect on the work culture of the company
Aligning interests of individuals with the company goes a long way in achieving engagement
Treat your employees as VIPs and make them feel respected
Start with the basics and then alter the practices according to your organizational needs
Effective communication about expectations from both managers and employees will help create a win-win situation.
Lastly, think of employee engagement as the essence of your company, and not an HR programme
Afterall, like Doug Conant said, “To win in the marketplace, you must win in the workplace”
Let us know if you found this post useful. Also, we would love to hear your ideas on employee engagement.