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.

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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? 

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.