I recently read an interesting blog by Greg Shankland from Blu-Prints, and have incorporated some of his comments into the blog below, as they fit beautifully with the Brownie Points philosophy on employee engagement.
The (usually annual) engagement survey creates the wrong impression of what employee engagement is about and often leads to “programs” that miss the point as a result.
Organisations struggle to act on the results (more than half don’t act at all) because the results are handed to a “support” function (usually HR or Communications) to design interventions and sell them to the organisation to implement.
Businesses choose three or four “efforts” to be completed before the next survey. This creates work above and beyond the day to day and misdirects thinking about where the ROI on engagement really materialises.
It is not that HR/Comms don’t come up with good ideas. It is more that this model creates a problem of ownership of the actions that improve engagement and makes engagement a program, when it isn’t about that at all.
In fact, a survey is nothing more than a snapshot of a continuous process.
All definitions of engagement coalesce around the idea that a conducive environment (i.e. your culture or the way things are done) will enable and entice people to contribute more in a useful way, benefiting both the business (innovation and continuous improvement) and themselves (satisfaction, growth, motivation).
By definition, engagement is about the actions people take. Perhaps we should be focused on continuous improvement of our value adding processes and measure the result in surveys, rather than expect to use survey results to design actions. A failure to act, which is very common, devalues the survey and harms leadership credibility.
Of course perceptions (which surveys try to assess) affect actions, but the real driver is the quality of interactions across the business – not just through the leadership cascade, but across the organisation in every direction. That ‘quality’ will result in engaged people (consistently contributing) or disengaged people (doing the minimum, or even undermining others). So the pieces of the puzzle that cause engagement (or disengagement) are happening all the time, by design or accident and improving engagement is a continuous improvement process.
Let us start with the outcomes we anticipate from improved engagement. Because people are contributing more, and are more satisfied and committed, the benefits span the value adding (i.e. profit making/wasting) processes of the business.
We should expect to see (and the research shows) improvements in:
Customer loyalty through innovations in the way people and the business interact with customers and prospects ($ Benefit = increased customer revenue)
Employee loyalty through better interactions between the organisation and the people, as well as between people in the organisation ($ Benefit = reduced turnover, hiring, absenteeism costs)
Process innovation, improving productivity, quality and lead times ($ Benefit = service improvements leading to customer revenue; quality and productivity improvements which reduce waste)
Risk management through better governance, compliance, safety ($ Benefit = reduced cost of compliance or compliance failures)
Leadership effectiveness ($ Benefit overlaps the above, though there are research stats that can help you assess them)
Enabling and encouraging people to contribute across these areas, valuing them as individuals, respecting their opinions, recognising the right behaviors and actions and offering a path of growth for the individual will result in increases in revenue and reductions in cost and waste that flow through to the bottom line.
Of course it requires a context to direct the actions toward desired outcomes – a competitive narrative that connects the dots so that people can see how their daily work contributes to the bigger picture. That is where engagement happens (or not).
These are not things you act on occasionally after an annual survey. They are a continuous effort – in which we have to recognise that engagement is a choice people make. People will engage if the environment you create makes it easy and worthwhile to do so – every day, not once a year.
Brownie Points employee engagement programs are designed to capture and measure these improved positive behaviours. To learn how we can help you improve staff engagement in your organisation, call us today on 03 9909 7411 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org