31/08/2012

By Gavin Meikle, Head Of Learning And Founder Of Inter-Activ

Wikipedia defines an engaged employee as "one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their job". Employee engagement is much more than job satisfaction and research has not surprisingly shown a direct correlation between increasing employee engagement and business turnover. So what can you do to increase the levels of engagement in your business?

- Listen to your staff

Talk to the people who matter and who know what is stopping them becoming even more engaged in their work. Listen to their concerns non-defensively and seek out their suggestions for solving these issues. It's true that an external consultant or agency will usually get more honest answers but don't let a lack of budget for this type of service be your excuse for not doing it at all.

- Look for underlying causes

When you hear about a particular problem it's all to easy to get fired up and to start blaming individuals. Employee engagement issues are rarely limited to one problem or one individual. Don't jump to conclusions too hastily. Take time to look for patterns and underlying causes. It takes more than a sticking plaster to fix deep seated engagement problems.

- Don't compare your scores to other organizations

Every company is different so it is usually pointless to compare your organization's employee engagement scores to another's. Use the score as your own benchmark and then identify and implement actions designed to improve your own score.

- Be honest and transparent about the current situation

The key to effective engagement is openness. Share the results of any surveys, accept them as an issue for the whole company and demonstrate that you are committed to doing something about them, starting at the top!

- Do something!

Employee engagement surveys on their own achieve nothing! What matters is the action that comes as a result of the survey. Doing nothing will simply make things worse! Commit publicly to making things better and then implement your plans consistently, monitoring progress regularly to ensure that these actions don't get swept under the carpet.

- Measure any changes

Change won't happen overnight so don't repeat an employee engagement survey for at least 12 months and preferably 18 months. But don't let this protracted time period be an excuse for doing nothing. As recommended in point five above, actively manage the implementation of all changes. And as you do so make sure you keep talking to your people and get subjective measurement of any progress made.

What's your take on the employee engagement debate? I'd love to hear your opinions and in particular examples of successful initiatives that have delivered tangible benefits. Do drop me an email.