There’s no denying the importance of employee engagement. Countless studies have reinforced the fact that higher engagement levels lead to higher productivity and ultimately increased profits for an organisation. As well as the obvious benefits to the business, engaged employees possess a greater sense of well-being and job satisfaction. Not only will this have a positive impact on customer service but will lead to less absenteeism and reduce recruitment costs, due to slower staff turnover.
Employee engagement is particularly important to HR Directors in an unstable economic climate for a number of reasons. Arguably the most important, is that successful organisations need to be agile, constantly reacting to change and setting new strategic direction in response to market conditions. In order to maintain performance improvements, HR Directors need to ensure that employees are fully engaged throughout the entire process. In our experience there are a number of core tenets that HR Directors should subscribe to, to provide a robust framework for employee engagement thrive.
1) Start at the top – Engagement needs to be driven from the top down. In the huge majority of businesses we’ve worked with, the HR Director has to have responsibility for ensuring the engagement strategy has top level buy-in. HRDs need to identify a compelling metric that senior management will respond to and get the CEO and his team to act as role models for the rest of the business.
2) Start them early – From the very beginning, new employees should know how their roles contribute to the overall success of the business. Communicating this should begin with the induction process so they know what good looks like from the outset. Induction procedures should be designed with employee engagement at their core.
3) Develop for engagement – Managers’ behaviours and core competencies have a direct effect on the engagement of their team. Anyone in a management position should have the skills to effectively engage their reports. At the heart of any MDP there should be a bespoke framework, designed to grow the skills of managers and promote behaviours that lead to empowered team members, and an increase in discretionary effort. It’s not enough to just deliver the ‘how to’ of employee engagement, it’s equally important to provide the compelling reasons WHY it’s essential to the organisation.
4) Make managers accountable – We already know that an individual’s line manager has a direct impact on their levels of engagement. Team engagement levels should form an important part of any manager’s appraisal process. Managers should be required to report on actions they’ve taken and behaviours that they’ve personally changed in order to increase employee engagement. Some of the best engagement strategies we’ve seen don’t focus on engagement across the board, but concentrate on identifying areas where managers lack the leadership skills to effectively engage their reports.
5) Act on poor performance – In any business there will be managers who fail to engage their team, regardless of the amount of support the organisation provides. These poor performers should have personalised engagement plans drawn up. Both their manager and HR should agree on the correct steps. These could include a change to their role, where they no longer manage others, or being moved from the business altogether, on account of performance issues. It’s often underestimated how damaging a single manager’s poor leadership skills can be, and acting on poor performance sends an important message to the rest of the business.
There’s a whole host of clever software, designed to help drive employee engagement. However, without the basic core tenets, driven down through the organisation by senior management, no amount of computer wizardry will make a dent in engagement levels.
What other tips do you have for increasing employee engagement?