Employee engagement is a goal most business leaders wish to achieve. An engaged workforce is more productive, more innovative, more positive and generally nicer to be around. As Stuart Rock says in an article for the Chartered Management Institute
“(Employee engagement) is not just the sense of job satisfaction, or the organisational commitment, or the sense of empowerment – it’s a heady combination of all three.”
Promoting and fostering meaningful, lasting engagement is a challenge shared my many organisations the world over. In a recent study by Steelcase, over 12,000 individuals working in 17 of the world’s top economies were asked if they felt engaged.
A shocking third of those individual stated they were disengaged (the nah’s in our title). A third didn’t feel strongly either way (the mehs), and the rest felt engaged. Converting the ‘mehs’ is one thing; changing the mindset of the ‘nahs’ quite another. This is where a strong company culture comes into its own.
Company culture is key
At the core of engagement should be a thriving corporate culture that is based on clearly defined values. Otherwise, employees have nothing to be part of. You can be an employee of a business with no values, but it’s unlikely you’ll be an advocate for it. Equally, the work employees do needs to have a purpose. Otherwise it’s just mechanical, repetitive, and without value.
Sometimes, it just takes a shift infocus to turn meaningless into meaningful. A major medical supplies company who specialised in wound dressings had a team of employees who spent all day winding bandages. When presented in a line up, a visiting VIP asked the team what they did. “Save lives”, they replied.
The team understood that a correctly wound bandage could be deployed more quickly by medical staff, and that timely application of a bandage could save a life. It gave deep and profound meaning and purpose to their task.
Innovative ways to foster engagement
So, what other ways can businesses foster engagement? Home maintenance service company HomeServe give employees a daily opportunity to help resolve customer issues they had encountered. (As cited in the ICM article above).
A young engineer on a callout to clear the drains at an elderly man’s home discovered the gentleman had no hot water - and hadn’t for many months. The engineer brought this issue to Customer First, a daily video conference forum where any employee can participate.
As a result of his concern, HomeServe bought the gentleman the required equipment to restore hot water, and the engineer volunteered to fit it over a weekend.
The Customer First forum is the result of an enabling culture that allows employees to notice problems in the first place, knowing there is a system in place to resolve them. Had the company culture been “Go in, do the job you’re there to do, and on to the next job asap”, the employee would never have felt empowered to do anything.
How close is your business to an enabling culture?
An article by Betty Tuppeny in Campaign US suggests a straightforward way to assess how far down the engagement/enabling road your business is.
“Everyone in your organization (should be able) to answer three very simple questions:
• What do clients pay my (organisation) to do?
• What do I get paid to do?
• And, how do we/I do it better than anyone else?”
It’s a deceptively simple set of questions that neatly encompass what clients expect, what the organisation expects, and most importantly, give a green light to the possibility of a better way of doing things.
Appropriate communication channels
Tuppeny is also very clear that to engage, you must first communicate effectively - and through the appropriate channels:
“Talk to (your employees) through the channels and methods they are using in their real lives—and that they spend their days helping your clients navigate—start thinking in terms of agency apps, stickers, Snapchat stories and even agency-branded games for training and orientation.”
Upgrading the nahs and mehs
If your company information is interesting, presented in a convenient and accessible way, and has genuine meaning, you will have far more chance of converting those ‘nahs’ and ‘mehs’ into more engaged employees. Call us to make it happen in your organisation with our all-in-one communications app and platform, as used by major companies, organisations and local governments across the UK and beyond.