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Employee Engagement – The Basics, The Benefits and Beyond

Holding onto and really engaging your best talent is becoming a more and more difficult challenge in an ever competitive market. Employers can get complacent in thinking their talent will always have the same passion for their business as them – but the real question is what are your doing to ensure they retain this passion, to ensure you keep them?

 

Employers often offer very good incentives to encourage an employee to remain, however further down the line employees need change. A simple pay rise on an end of year performance may not be the answer to employees ever developing needs. If an employer doesn’t attempt to understand these needs, this can lead to dissatisfaction, disengagement and ultimately the loss of valued employees.

 

The CIPD Employee Outlook survey, Spring 2017, displayed the following reasons as to why an employee would leave a business:

 

It may be no surprise that pay was the number one influencer, but often the issue of pay is considered a hygiene factor, it demotivates if considered unfair. We should ensure pay is fair and equitable and Daniel Pink’s words “take the issue of pay off the table”. Some of the other content may surprise you due to its achievable nature e.g.

 

  • More Flexible hours – How do you promote your flexible working policy?
  • Increase Job Satisfaction – Do you gather feedback through engagement or pulse surveys to inform you on what employees want? Do you have a culture of open communication and engagement with managers?
  • Reduce Stress – What is your company Health and Well-being Programme like? – Do you know employee triggers to stress? – What is your sickness rates breakdown- is stress a major part of this?
  • Better Training and Development- Do you provide opportunities to develop through development programmes and path ways? When did you last look at training evaluation forms to measure success of internal training? – Do your yearly appraisals give the employee opportunity to discuss their development needs?
  • Opportunities for Promotion – How do promote internal talent? Do you have internal high potential programmes? Or rotations? How do you assess the best fit? Unhappy with Leadership or Manager- How effectively are grievances dealt with? What are your employee VOICE options? How do you monitor feedback regarding management styles? Do you develop management capability?

 

How do you get honest feedback from your employees?

 

Employees when asked through a formal format often are unsure what to say due to the face to face interaction and often assumptions are based upon their body language. The process can put employees at unease. Alternatively, once some employees are given the opportunity to share their views in an anonymised format, it can increase the candidness of the feedback.

 

Employee engagement surveys have become increasingly popular over the last decade in response to the need to really give voice to colleagues. The use of online surveys methods, collating the information and ensuring a high response rate is now more achievable making the process more representative.

 

What are the benefits of this approach?

Key changes can be made

Data can be used to reinforce what is good, make key recommendations and feedback to employees to show their voices are being listened to and acted upon. Also the repeating of this process can show progress in the areas and track the effectiveness of the recommendations suggested.

 

Anonymous Feedback

When not in a group situation, such as an Employee voice method, their opinions are likely to be unaffected by others. Also by coding the surveys to make team specific information available you can see how each manager performs.

 

Productivity

Often when employees are given a voice, they become more productive. Too often in the workplace small issues or concerns have no release which then builds into complex grievances. By affording them this release, it can promote a harmonious workplace environment.

 

Innovation

People delivering the day to day tasks often see opportunities for pragmatic and practical improvement, but often managers are those required to ensure continuous improvement. By offering open ended questions such as new ideas to create a better workplace, it can lead to solutions that save the company money and time. By these being put into place, employees begin to feel they are listened to and therefore an integral part of the company moving forward.

 

Profitability

Research demonstrates that employees who are highly engaged are more productive. The virtuous circle is this can generate funds that affect areas of concerns for employees e.g. salary increases, better pension, enhanced maternity/paternity or a health and well-being programme.

 

Retention and Recruitment Costs

A highly engaged workforce is often likely to recommend friends and family due to their company being a “great place to work”. This generates a brand reputation that assists with the attraction process.

 

Leadership as a KPI

Through employee engagement surveys, a trackable KPI can be created allowing you to understand each manager’s style and the leadership they demonstrate, both to recognise and reward and to development where improvement is required. This allows the company to reinforce the importance of leadership competencies and also can be beneficial data when considering promotions.

 

How do I start this process?

 

Following reading this article it is critical to understand your willingness to receive feedback. Bill Gates states, “We all need people who will give us feedback, that’s how we improve”, Ken Blanchard states, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. If you are focused on improving your company and retaining the talent within it, then you need to be open to receiving feedback, through survey’s and direct employee input.

 

Surveys can be carried out independently by the company itself, or through a consultancy firm who will make the process pain and time free. See below for a sample timeline for the process:

 

Scoping Meeting

This is the first stage where you understand what the reasons are for conducting the survey and the main aims behind it. This may include the idea of carrying out a Pilot Survey.

 

Question Design

Further to establishing your aims, questions need to be focused around these topics combined with some useful alternative info all surveys should capture. Get the questions right, the answers you get will only be as clear as the questions you ask. Your survey should be equality proofed to ensure no group is being disadvantaged or marginalised.

 

Survey Set Up

This is around which platform the survey will be released on taking into consideration any alternative formats that may need to be provided to your employees as reasonable adjustments e.g. braille alternative, hard copies etc.

 

Survey Release

The release and communication of the survey with set deadlines.

 

Collection and Analysing of Data

Collection and analysis of the data provides the information on trends, strengths and areas for focus.

 

Recommendation Formation

This will usually consider areas of low scores or areas that fell below expected scores. Recommendations are drafted from the feedback and open ended questions to look at how these could be improved before the next survey release.

 

Employee Communication

Often this step is missed and this shows the clear direction the company has moving forward. By communicating and being open and honest in relation to the scores, it ensures employees note your importance of their honest feedback.

 

Schedule next Survey

Often the initial first score is low and this may be due to employee’s lack of understanding and a lack of trust. It is worth considering conducting a further survey at the 6 month point before moving to a yearly system.

 

Bringing in an outside facilitator to conduct your survey and to generate actions for improvement can also be a way of generating ideas for re-establishing trusting relationships

 

Finally, the survey will only be as successful as the effort managers put into post-survey change. For employees to trust that the time taken to respond to a survey is worthwhile, they need to see managers sharing the survey responses with them in a constructive way, asking for ideas on how to improve and making a commitment to implement changes.

 

By Philip Moody
Senior HR Consultant

Laura Gillespie