Although most organizations and management understand the need for Employee Engagement, most still struggle to create it.

Why is that?

Well in most cases it is simply down to the fact that it is still viewed as a Management and/or Human Resources function....or burden depending on where you stand.  

The old (and very time-consuming) method of seeking staff feedback via a lengthy opinion survey and then digging through all the data looking for a golden nugget is still widely used and seen as the only option in many circles.

This is despite much research and numerous articles that highlight the need to move away from this mindset to a more immediate and hands-on attitude.

  • Employee Engagement should be a team initiativeThe April 2014 article 'It's time to Rethink the Employee Engagement Issue' by Josh Bersin on the Forbes website opened by stating the "days of the annual engagement survey are slowly coming to an end, to be replaced by a much more holistic, integrated, and real-time approach". 
  • Another Forbes article (entitled 'The Employee Engagement Hoax') calls the annual survey "an insulting ritual" and goes on to say "employees have individual stories, ideas and insights to share, but we tell them 'Wait until it's time to complete the survey' rather than tune in to the rich and contextual wisdom they're offering us every single day"

Today's workforce expects information to be rapid and that they then be involved in any change process.  The idea of waiting months for management to dissect a survey and then finally deliver some 'one-size-fits-all' fix does not compute for them...and frankly it's unfeasible anyway.

Almost everything we do is interactive these days and the workforce is no exception.  We don't engage with social networks, friends and family once a year, so why should the so-called workplace engagement process be that way?

Staff need to feel an emotional attachment to the business to become fully engaged in their work.  This can only be achieved by empowering them to be agents of change (adhering to company strategies, policies and procedures of course) .

What is needed is an ongoing initiative that constantly checks the 'health' of the workforce and then facilitates them being agents of change.   Employees and the small group of co-workers they interact with day in and day out need to be given the mechanism and tools to sort it out themselves and set goals individually and as a team.  A well thought out process will include (most of) the following traits...

  • Survey
    • Questions should focus on Employee Needs (rather than opinions on the company, management, etc...)
    • Should be Short and Easy to Complete (no-one likes 60-100 questions that can take upwards of an hour)
    • Occur at Regular Intervals to Track Progress (rather than a once-a-year chore)
  • Results
    • Immediate, Graphical Reports and Metrics (not wait months to collate answers)
    • Employees see their own Scores and the Averages of their team/department  (now they feel part of the process)
    • Top down Management Views (so they can see which teams/departments need help and in what areas)
    • Progress Tracking (able to see the real change at all levels across the company)
  • Actions
    • Collaborative Activities (employees interacting and getting to know their closest colleagues)
    • Should be Short and Easy to Complete (can be done in team meetings and do not detract from daily work)
    • Take-aways and Goal Setting (rather than just information, establishing goals will make the process transformational)

In addition, this must be achievable at the individual and local level within the organization.  This is where the idea of using survey averages and trying to apply across-the-board fixes fails dramatically.  It is much better practice to focus on areas of need.

For example, if the IT department is struggling with Motivation they need to focus on that to help boost engagement in their area.  There is no point forcing everyone to look at Motivation and, conversely, there is no point asking the IT department to work on something they do well together.  

Team A getting it right + Team B getting it right + Team C getting it right = Organizational Success

By implementing a program where the employees get immediate feedback on the state of their team and are then able to discuss (in an interactive and collaborative manner) ways to improve areas of concern, each team will boost engagement which leads to rapid holistic improvements across the organization.