In my last article, I discussed the need for a practical definition of employee engagement reflecting the role played by the individual employee. I focused on why the organisation needs to empower employees to share responsibility for building an engaging workplace.
Employees who are less than engaged have developed a set of learned behaviours and expectations at work. For example, if their experience is that they are never listened to, why would they expect this to change now? A top down employee engagement strategy will struggle to change these perceptions. It is these very perceptions that cause the individual to look at the strategy and think something like ‘so what’, ‘another one, as if the last one made a difference’ etc.
Only the individual employee can decide to give the top down engagement strategy a fair chance or to be more productive, or contribute more. Etimes2 can provide the employee engagement software to help individuals reach this positive conclusion. However, there is an emphasis on the organisation to provide the environment for all this to happen.
5 Steps to Cultivate the Ground
Engagement is an ethos, not a strategy
Building an engaged workforce is best when the commitment to engagement runs deeper within the DNA of the company. The engaged ethos is about an honest and sincere belief in the value and ability of your employees and their commitment to the company. The building of an engaged workforce starts in earnest when employees can see this belief. All the other things linked to your strategy – e.g. a pool table, hanging out together and so on – are fun and good. They don’t mean a thing, however, if employees don’t feel valued.
Engagement is a personal experience
It is vital to understand and accept that each person’s engagement with their employer is personal. It is based on the individual’s experience of the working environment to date. A successful employee engagement strategy needs to find a way to tap into these individual perceptions and learn from them.
Not a one size fits all
People are unique. Employee engagement is a personal experience for each individual, so a one size fits all engagement strategy will have its impact limited by individual perception and experiences. Therefore, the strategy needs to consider how the organisation can connect with individuals throughout the workforce.
The engagement ethos starts with communication
Engagement is about honest and sincere communications and opportunities to become involved and contribute to success. Some of the key elements within your engagement strategy should provide guidance on authentic and sincere communications. Are you communicating what you are going to do? The authenticity and sincerity of your communications is the first step to giving individual employees new positive experiences. This will build their efficacy at work and start altering their perception to one of ‘you know, this might just offer me something. I’ll give it a go’.
Make it easy for your people to contribute
What makes people intrinsically engaged and happy at work? Is it a pool table? Or the permission to decorate their workstation? Not really. These type of activities and provision are fun and add to a happy environment. However, if you are sitting at your brightly decorated desk looking forward to a game of pool at lunchtime, but you still get the feeling that you are just a number with little value, then you are unlikely to be intrinsically engaged. Your engagement strategy needs to make it easy for each employee to get involved, to give their opinion, and feel that they make a valuable contribution to the success of their organisation. Not just in terms of the work they do and number of units produced. But also in how they contribute to decision making and problem solving in the organisation.
How does your employee engagement strategy connect individual employees to the organisation and drive greater contribution?