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10 steps to better employee engagement

27 Jul 2009

10 steps to better employee engagement

Stewart Bromley, head of people experience at first direct looks at his top tips for an engaged workforce.

Last week Peter Mandelson (the man with potentially the best job title in the world), released a report which we here at first direct think is potentially one of the more important things the government will do this year.

The Macleod Report talks about the importance of British companies engaging with their workforce and how vital this process is to the competitiveness of British companies in a global marketplace. It’s a 157 page document and gets quite dense so, in an attempt to provide a more accessible guide to employee engagement we thought we’d provide you with our own top 10 tips.

1: Understand your measurements: We use an engagement survey as a once per year measurement of staff engagement. It can be tempting just to look at the lowest scores but raising these could have little or no impact on overall engagement. More important is to find the key questions which have the biggest influence on engagement for any given area, and if these scores go up engagement is likely to increase also.

2: Sharing results, discussing them and involving people in the action planning is the single easiest way of improving engagement scores. Our behaviour change index indicates that when results are shared and discussed individuals are at least 25% more engaged.

3: Keep things fresh: Don’t rely on last year’s action plan to raise engagement this year. People need to see new change on the basis of the results, they need to see action plans with responsibilities and target dates for completion.

4: Truth and openness:  acknowledge that things could be better, and then develop focus groups where people can openly discuss how they feel without fear of repercussions.

5. Authentic leadership: leaders need to ensure that they follow through with any promises made, so that people who do speak up are not reprimanded in any way.

6. Recognition: this is not just about the score itself, but must also take into consideration effort put in and any improvements in scores. Leaders who help to achieve these improvements must also be recognised. This can be done through our annual awards ceremony and also by publishing top stories on the intranet site.

7. Understand your people: it is essential to understand the differences between new joiners, established workers and those who are part time, and the different ways that they can be engaged.

8. The global people survey should not just be a once a year event: permanent opportunities need to be created so that feedback can be received year round.

9. Engagement is a key leadership activity: people respond better to their direct manager taking the initiative to improve engagement, rather than all activities being driven by HR. 

10. Don’t go it alone: share your experiences with other teams and leaders, as successes in some areas can easily be transferred to others.

 All this boils down into one all important set of themes (as picked up both in the introduction to the report and in the introductory video by David Macleod.) The employers with the most engaged workforce tended to demonstrate four common characteristics – they had a clear strategic direction, they had a dynamic team of managers, they gave their employees a real voice and the demonstrated a clear set of values and behaviours.

These tips are designed to help organisations towards that goal. We still have a lot of work ahead of us so we’ll keep you posted on our progress. Hope you find them useful...

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