90% of HR professionals say1 their leaders recognise the value of employee engagement, but only 5 out of 10 feel those same leaders know how to create a culture of engagement. With organisations spending millions of pounds and euros each year on engagement programmes, that represents a missed opportunity. Multiple research studies point to the correlation between employee engagement and business performance – whether in areas like productivity and profitability, or safety, customer service and innovation. So, engagement matters, but the effort isn’t matched by the outcome. What can you do to improve your company’s engagement activities?
From working with hundreds of clients across the globe, it’s clear that the best organisations are constantly evolving their engagement process – particularly in terms of how they use technology to gather and analyse data, and how they act upon theresulting insights. Drawing on that experience, here are a few ideas you may want to consider:
Although the traditional Census survey is still a great way to establish how engaged the organisation is, via a consistent set of questions – it can feel a bit ‘static’. Management wants to know whether actions are working, or what employees think about current challenges and plans. Equally, advances in survey technology have made it easier to run interim surveys (‘pulse checks’). But it’s important to define what issue you’re trying to address and what you’re going to do with the data, once the results come in. Otherwise, Pulse surveys may overwhelm the organisation and survey fatigue will set in.
Three approaches to consider:
Pick a robust and flexible survey platform and establish a survey governance process. Most suppliers can offer a Pulse survey tool nowadays, where you can design and launch a quick-fire survey to a sample group. Mercer-Sirota’s ‘Spotlight’ tool is a case in point. But make sure you know who’s in charge of that system and ensure there is some way of deciding what surveys should be run, and when. Check out our Pulse-with-a-Purpose blog here: www.sirota.com/blog/the-pressure-to-pulse/
Consolidate the data into a central database – to enable your HR analytics team to run cross-over analyses linking survey data to things like exit data, onboarding effectiveness, or D&I initiatives.
Go online: new tools like Remesh’s online Focus Group (www.remesh.com) allow HR to build a rolling commentary on a current issue among employees. Post a topic to a sub group of employees; watch as their comments come in – and spark new ideas/comments from colleagues in a virtual focus group. Instant polling via cost-effective process.
Many organisations struggle with action post-survey. Typically, it’s left to department managers to organise a group feedback meeting and plan a series of actions, once the engagement survey results are available. Yet each of us bears some responsibility for our own level of engagement: it shouldn’t just be something that is ‘done to us’ by management.
Some organisations have begun to use individual employee reports to generate more of a shared accountability for engagement. We’ve designed reports which focus on the items in the survey that most lie within an employee’s control (such as: my development; cooperation with my team; how I view my supervisor etc.) to show the individual how their perceptions compare to the average of the company, or to external benchmarks. Moreover, by creating links in the report to existing internal company resource sites (e.g. personal development/learning sites or total pay statements or other ‘how to’ sites) – individuals who may be disengaged or at risk of leaving, can be encouraged to take more responsibility for what’s causing those attitudes.
Companies use Variance Analysis to uncover the distribution of survey results across the organisation. This statistical technique reveals the teams who score in the top quartile on various dimensions of the survey, and those who struggle to generate the same level of commitment. Aside from being a great way to focus interventions and identify where ‘best practice’ exists inside the organisation, this technique identifies which teams and which managers need help – the bottom quartile.
But what are the ways you can help a manager who – for whatever reason – struggles to create a culture of engagement? One approach involves a unique micro-intervention: TEL. The Engaging Leader (TEL) assessment combines two research proven approaches: Hogan Assessment’s Leader Personality inventory, with Mercer-Sirota’s team effectiveness engagement survey (www. theengagingleader.com). The manager takes the Hogan inventory; the team answers the Sirota questionnaire. The report combines the two – to tell the manager who they are (in terms of their personality and values); how they behave (as seen through the teams’ eyes) and how that influences team engagement. When combined with coaching by HR or an external resource – it enables a powerful focus on the manager’s style and what could make his/her team more effective.