Beware of the Employee Engagement Survey

Company Culture and Employee Engagement are based on an evolving outcome related to attitudes, behaviour and emotion which has been cultivated and encouraged (or the opposite!) by a staff member’s experience in the workplace.

A research paper recently published by CIPD (May 2012) regarding the effectiveness of Employee Engagement surveys, states that although there may be a high score associated with an organisation’s survey, these findings are related to ‘transactional’ engagement rather than the true ‘emotional’ engagement with the former not bringing long-term, sustainable company success.

So why is this?  Well employees who have transactional engagement are motivated by the project/task and this type of engagement is shaped by the employees concern to earn a living and get the job done.  There is no true desire to go that extra mile for the company itself and there is a tendency that these individuals burnout and their lack of loyalty towards the organisation leads to greater attrition rates.

Emotionally engaged people want to go above and beyond what is normally expected from them for the good of the organisation. There is a greater psychological contract in place between this company and these individuals and it is shown that they tend to have higher levels of well-being and a better work/life balance.

It is therefore important that the content of the surveys and how they are being analysed takes into account the above, as this will have a knock-on effect on the bottom-line in the long run.

And how does a company nurture the Emotionally Engaged employee?

Companies should be strategically focusing on encouraging a workplace that fundamentally promotes the right attitudes, is supportive by nature, empowers its staff, has clear communication and vision and listens to and acts on its employees’ critical feedback.

David Rock’s SCARF model (2008) outlines the five domains which can trigger ‘threat’ or ‘reward’.   Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.  Deep engagement occurs when people experience rewards from all five domains of SCARF.  HR could start to structure their surveys and the way their Managers are developed around these five components?

I also believe that once a year surveys should not be the only engagement indicator.  I agree with Dr Zara Whysall’s white paper (The E-Word) reference that constantly listening to staff the whole year round and gaining insights into employees’ levels of engagement through their continuous conversations with their Line Managers is a basic way to assess what is going on in the organisation.   This also allows company action to ‘tweak’ areas that are fundamentally falling down.

Nice things our clients have said about us – Equator!

We hired Joss to work with our client servicing team to define ‘what makes a great client servicing person.’ Joss led a fantastic off-site session that really helped us to create our client servicing manifesto. All of the team felt recharged and motivated at the end of the day. I would highly recommend Joss for any coaching or motivational session. She really took the time to understand our business and my team and she created a really thorough, bespoke session for the day that included a lot of interactive sessions. The day flew by and everyone really enjoyed working with Joss.

Kay MacGregor, Client Servicing Director, Equator

Who should own employee brand?

Marketing and the power of great brands are proven.  When companies don’t take notice and keep up with the ever-changing world and customer needs, they can disappear into the big black hole of brand-cestry – think Woolworths, Kodak & Jessops to name a few.

Marketing in its simplest form listens to the customer, keeps up with new sector trends, ideas and needs and then creates new products to plug the holes, giving the all important customer what they want.  The customer is king for our Marketeers.

However, in a highly competitive market place, some forward-thinking MD’s are looking INWARDS at their employees and realizing that they can be the differentiating factor that beats off competition.

Slowly but surely, a new era is dawning where the competitive edge comes from WITHIN an organisation and doesn’t just look externally at the customer.  It comes not from how many ads companies can put out or how many Facebook “likes” they achieve, but from how the company can use its existing assets to maximum effect.

We are a living in a Social Media whirl.  Everyone can communicate their thoughts, feelings and opinions  to the mass market within seconds.  Lots of people are listening and feel they have the power to change things positively by their input.  This translates to the power of people and how this power makes them ie. valued and important.

So what if organisations listened and communicated to their employees more and made them feel that they were valued and they could make a difference?   Companies would not only unearth new insights and ideas to create a more effective workplace, but the employees would also feel that their voices are listened to and do count.   Happy + engaged + motivated employees = a more successful organisation”

A company that truly engages its employees does make a difference to the bottom line and that’s why Employee Engagement is such a hot topic at the moment.

There’s plenty of research to back up the importance of Employee Engagement and I particularly liked the findings of Standard Chartered Bank’s 2007 report which found that branches with a statistically significant increase in levels of employee engagement (0.2 or more on a scale of five) had a 16 per cent higher profit margin growth than branches with decreased levels of employee engagement.

I recently conceptualized and delivered a very successful Employee Engagement Ambassadors initiative for a global brand in the Middle East in direct answer to their Employee Survey Mercer results and subsequent focus groups to qualify and get to the crux of the key issues. 

Employees felt their top management had clear vision and communicated this well at the start of the year, however, their immediate bosses were failing them in communicating ongoing news and business objectives and listening to and considering their viewpoints.

As I’m sure we have all experienced at some point in our corporate lives, a common problem in the business world is that communication often gets blocked somewhere down the chain and this tends to lead to wrong perceptions and assumptions about the company and those in charge.

However, as with trying to bring about a culture change you cannot snap your fingers and instigate a new employee engagement scheme by way of a mechanistic, directive approach which tries to extract discretionary effort by manipulating employees’ commitment and emotions. Employees see through such attempts very quickly and this can lead to cynicism and disillusionment.

What you must try and do is engage employees freely and willingly to give discretionary effort, not just as an ‘add on’, but as an integral part of their daily activity at work. 

Communication is key.  By enforcing regular communication between team leaders and members – you’re identifying needs and recognizing wins, challenges and ultimately spotting problems before they arise or escalate. By doing all of this, you’re going to see happier, far more productive employees. Regular communication and feedback is also a great way to remind your team of the purpose of the organisation and how you’re all working together towards a common goal.

Another critical area of getting engagement right is by starting to ‘Include’ and ‘Involve’ your people.    You must know the beating heart of your company, its pulse and in order to gain this kind of insight, employee feedback is crucial.

Employee Engagement or ‘Employee Brand’ Ambassadors can help organisations do this.  They are able to break down barriers; be the motivators for change and the communication lynchpin at a micro level.  They can also be the ones to feedback the top insights from the ‘shop floor’ that may never have been unearthed due to hierarchy and red tape.

But getting an Ambassador programme right can be challenging as there are many different aspects to take into account before introducing this concept into a company.  

Before signing off though, do remember that Ambassadors are just one element of the overall Employee Engagement piece if an organisation is really going to get it right.  The workplace must also be designed to support employees to be the best they can and achieve the clear business goals that have been set.   Congruence among structure, process, strategy, people and culture must be solid, a fully integrated approach will allow for maximum impact.

In my next article I’ll look into the components that should be considered when looking into creating an Ambassador programme.

Bigger Picture, Bigger Skill Set

In my last blog I touched on who should own the people side of the business if an organisation is going to transform itself into a truly employee-centric entity.  HR, Marketing and Internal Communications all have the right to ‘own’ this very important area but who should and who does.

It made me think about my own positioning and how to define myself when talking to clients.

I am a qualified Coach, performance development and employee engagement specialist and  I used to work in marketing, comms, PR, sponsorship and events.  I use all skills and intertwine them to create lively and engaging people programmes and workshops.

I then add to the mix my 22 years of experience,  business acumen and the commercial skills I gained in sponsorship and  ensure the programmes are aligned to the client’s business objectives  and have a long-term, solution-focused twist .

To glue all the above together, my new Pritt stick is a Post Graduate course in the Psychology of Organisational Development & Change. 

So what am I?:

  • A Corporate Coach with expertise in Change, Conflict Resolution, Career, Team & Leadership
  • A Learning & Development Specialist
  •  An Employee Engagement and Internal Communications Expert
  •  An Employee Brand Engagement Expert
  • An Organisational Development & Change Specialist

 I got asked the other day by someone in Recruitment, “so are you an L&D Specialist or an Employee Engagement Specialist?”  My response was and is I am all of the above and feel by saying only one area is seriously devaluing what I can offer.

I believe that using all the above complementary skills will deliver a highly effective, engaging and impactful people proposition.  Using each area of expertise as a stand alone works, but an organisation that seriously wants to transform to an employee-centric workplace is already thinking bigger picture and therefore should engage those with a bigger complementary skill set equipped to handle such change.

Employee Engagement – It does Make a Different to Your Bottom Line

It Does Make A Difference To The Bottom Line

Many employers are still wary about how Employee Engagement truly affects a business and ultimately its bottom line. However, many comprehensive research studies have been carried out and show that there is a significant impact and CEO’s of companies really need to start listening. 

The Great Place to Work® Institute Europe carries out yearly research, which analyses a number of key business metrics of the companies that make the “100 Best Workplaces in Europe” list. As you might expect, the best outperform their peers. When they compared the “100 Best” with the 100 companies that participated in the 2009 study but returned the least positive survey results (“100 Lower”), the best companies outperformed in a number of areas, including:

  • The 100 Best companies grew at twice the pace of the 100 Lower companies
  • Absenteeism was 70% higher at the 100 Lower companies
  • The 100 Best companies received twice as many job applications
  • The 100 Best companies developed more new products
  • The 100 Best companies had lower voluntary turnover
  • The 100 Best companies increased revenue by 23% but staff by only 11%

How Can Your Company Enjoy Such Business Benefits?

Focus on your employer brand. Begin by being both worthy and recognised as an employer of choice.

What is being worthy? Well, being worthy means doing those things to ensure that employees are set up to be successful by worthy leaders who:

  • Set a clear and purposeful vision
  • Foster two-way communication
  • Train and develop their employees
  • Respect and recognize their employees
  • Are fair in terms of pay, benefits and promotions
  • Create an environment based on trust

What Is An Engaged Employee?

An engaged employee can be defined as one who is truly committed, emotionally and intellectually to an organisation.

AON’s model measures engagement based on whether employees:

  • Speak positively about the organisation to others (say)
  • Have an intense desire to be part of the organisation (stay)
  • Are willing to exert discretionary effort (strive) to contribute to its overall success

Employee Brand

Employee brand engagement is the positive emotional connection between employees and their company through the brand, and anisation.

The savvy brand clearly understands the necessity of aligning its business goals with a culture of engaged and upskilled employees.   So can the Marketeers with their sophisticated methods that keep their products and organisations in pole position, work with their HR peers to transfer their knowledge and working techniques so that organisations become both customer and employee-centric?

And for those forward thinking, employee-centric companies already out there, who should own the Employee brand?   Is it the HR, Marketing or Internal Communications Directors?    Or should companies start to consider roles such as a Head of Employee Brand, a position responsible for tying all three areas together, ensuring true alignment and acting as the glue that makes organisational success stick? 

Nice things our clients have said about us – Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer“Capitalise structured, developed and delivered an agenda to support a 2 day ‘Go Getting Team Event’ for the new Al Futtaim Marks & Spencer team. The brief was to plan and deliver an event to help the team understand how we can become connected, aligned and motivated as a team which consisted of 12 new people, 6 promoted people and 4 members of the team that have moved into new roles. The event consisted of bespoke workshops for a team of 34 people which resulted in committing to the team’s designed alliance, understanding change and the impact it has on a team and individuals, a team’s charter agreement to secure a plan that will support the 5 year business growth, understanding the importance of communication and the effective flow of information, understanding the business priorities and demonstrating what a successful, highly dymanic team looks like. Capitalise skillfully managed the workshops to ensure that all members of the team contributed and committed to a plan that supported the business growth plans. It was a great success and the team are now equipped to work efficiently and effectively. A big thank you to Joss and Jenny who were a pleasure to work with.”

Julie Howett, Marks & Spencer

View photos at our Programmes & Workshops page

Nice things our clients have said about us – Ikea

Joss has been a pleasure to work with, bringing her strategic approach with a friendly style.

Joss took the time to understand the requirements of the business to put together a great engagement scheme for IKEA. Consulting with all parts of the business from the senior management team to the co-workers on the shop floor. Her natural ability to see ‘the wood, for the trees’ has given her the ability to help the teams build their own respective action plans and her background in marketing has allowed for a really effective communication plan.

I would recommend Joss in an instant and look forward to working with her in the future….

Kieran Mander
Senior HR Manager – IKEA Middle East.

Want to know your secret weapon for organisation success? It’s simple, it’s your ‘engaged’ employees.

A company that truly engages its employees does make a difference to the bottom line and that’s why Employee Engagement is such a hot topic at the moment.

There’s plenty of research to back up the importance of Employee Engagement and I particularly liked the findings of Standard Chartered Bank’s 2007 report which found that branches with a statistically significant increase in levels of employee engagement (0.2 or more on a scale of five) had a 16 per cent higher profit margin growth than branches with decreased levels of employee engagement.

I recently conceptualized and delivered a very successful Employee Engagement Ambassadors initiative for a global brand in the Middle East in direct answer to their Employee Survey Mercer results and subsequent focus groups to qualify and get to the crux of the key issues.

Employees felt their top management had clear vision and communicated this well at the start of the year, however, their immediate bosses were failing them in communicating ongoing news and business objectives and listening to and considering their viewpoints.

As I’m sure we have all experienced at some point in our corporate lives, a common problem in the business world is that communication often gets blocked somewhere down the chain and this tends to lead to wrong perceptions and assumptions about the company and those in charge.

However, as with trying to bring about a culture change you cannot snap your fingers and instigate a new employee engagement scheme by way of a mechanistic, directive approach which tries to extract discretionary effort by manipulating employees’ commitment and emotions. Employees see through such attempts very quickly and this can lead to cynicism and disillusionment.

What you must try and do is engage employees freely and willingly to give discretionary effort, not just as an ‘add on’, but as an integral part of their daily activity at work.

Communication is key.  By enforcing regular communication between team leaders and members – you’re identifying needs and recognizing wins, challenges and ultimately spotting problems before they arise or escalate. By doing all of this, you’re going to see happier, far more productive employees. Regular communication and feedback is also a great way to remind your team of the purpose of the organisation and how you’re all working together towards a common goal.

Another critical area of getting engagement right is by starting to ‘Include’ and ‘Involve’ your people.    You must know the beating heart of your company, its pulse and in order to gain this kind of insight, employee feedback is crucial.

Employee Engagement or ‘Employee Brand’ Ambassadors can help organisations do this.  They are able to break down barriers; be the motivators for change and the communication lynchpin at a micro level. They can also be the ones to feedback the top insights from the ‘shop floor’ that may never have been unearthed due to hierarchy and red tape.

But getting an Ambassador programme right can be challenging as there are many different aspects to take into account before introducing this concept into a company.

Before signing off though, do remember that Ambassadors are just one element of the overall Employee Engagement piece if an organisation is really going to get it right.  The workplace must also be designed to support employees to be the best they can and achieve the clear business goals that have been set.   Congruence among structure, process, strategy, people and culture must be solid, a fully integrated approach will allow for maximum impact.

In my next article I’ll look into the components that should be considered when looking into creating an Ambassador programme.