Employee engagement

by Hayley Oats and Vandy Massey

Where to start

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) the first step is to measure employee attitudes. This gives a benchmark and, where structured to your organisational needs, will provide a clear and rapid line of sight to the areas that require improvement.

Combined with other organisational data, such as staff turnover and absence rates, employee surveys give a clear view of the ‘whole picture’ and allow a definitive action plan to be produced.

Key point

Successfully implementing any change requires commitment and ‘buy in’ from the management team, who should be seen as champions of the change process. Talking about the benefits and needs for employee engagement in your organisation should start at the top level.

Find out how engaged employees really are!

The most reliable way to find out how engaged employees are is to ask them in an employee survey. The replies to this must be kept anonymous, to allow people to answer freely and honestly, without fear of reprisals, so it is best to employ an outside agency to conduct the survey.

Once you have gathered the information, report the results to all staff and engage in discussions with them about how to improve. In these sessions, you would expect to get more detail to the explain the results, so it’s important to ensure that the environment of the sessions facilitates open discussions and gently probes for more detail without eliciting aggressive/defensive responses.

How to recognise engagement

  • Very low turnover of staff
  • Very low sickness absence levels
  • Excellent customer service records
  • High efficiency/low waste
  • Great communications
  • Fantastic brand reputation
  • Enthusiastic and energetic employees
  • High response levels when feedback requested

Symptoms of little or no employee engagement

  • High turnover of staff
  • High sickness absence levels
  • Poor customer service records
  • High inefficiency
  • Poor communications
  • Poor brand reputation
  • Apathetic employees (including management)

Does it cost?

Does this just come down to giving them more money?

No, money is obviously in part a motivator for employees; however, a well-paid but unengaged employee will have no difficulty in seeking other employment.

There are obviously costs associated with providing a work place that fully supports employee engagement, but actually bringing everyone together and asking them how you can achieve some of the basics – in house, with little or no cost – can have a significant impact on forming a team mentality and encouraging communication (not to mention engaging and empowering team members in the process).

Many of the management skills required to facilitate engagement, such as talking, listening and being honest and genuine, cost nothing at all!

Barriers to employee engagement

  • Management who don’t believe in it
  • Lack of commitment to employees and/or employee engagement
  • Poor communication
  • Poor people management practices and policies
  • Apathy
  • Lack of direction
  • Poor line management