Here are some suggestions on the way to to improve employee engagement. In a recent article we suggested the need for a new definition of what we mean by "employee engagement". One where employees are the key focus within the larger employee engagement equation.
All HR leaders and those responsible for employee engagement will realise the importance of cultivating the ground on which to sow the seeds of engagement. In other words, we need to get each individual employee involved and taking some responsibility for their own engagement levels. This is not to say the individual has caused themselves to be disengaged (the biggest causes are typically line management and organisational culture).
Why do you need to ‘cultivate the ground’ – you have an engagement strategy in place?
Well 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 engagement strategy, no matter how good it is, 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 Ways to Cultivate the Employee Engagment 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 based on the individual’s experience of the working environment to date. A successful engagement strategy needs to find a way to tap into these individual perceptions and feelings and enable the organisation to learn from them.
Not a one size fits all
People are unique and as engagement is a personal experience for each individual, 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
It is about honest and sincere communications and opportunities to get involved and contribute to success. Some of the key elements within the part of your engagement strategy that deals with communication in your organisation are how authentic and sincere communications are. 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 to build their efficacy at work and to 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 people to get involved and 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 people 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?
Nigel McPolin is the creator and founder of etimes2, an Employee Engagement Survey Platform that drives sustained behaviour, engagement and performance throughout the organisation.
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Nigel McPolin is an Organisational Psychologist, Employee Engagement Specialist and the Founder & CEO of etimes2 ltd.
etimes2 ltd is an Organisational Psychology consultancy and host of the Amazing Workplaces programme, where our psychologists work closely with our clients, utilising both their expertise and our software to discover the key engagement and performance drivers specific to their business. Our psychologists help the client explore and understand all aspects of their workforce including engagement, empowerment, motivation, and performance. etimes2 empowers our clients to build Amazing Workplaces.