Employee Engagement By Design Not Default

Written by KB Published in

Thought Leader Blog

One of the things I love most about consulting in the employee engagement space is the opportunity to see the diverse approaches that organisations take regarding the performance of their people and business strategy. Over time, I have come to see that there is a common lifecycle that organisations progress through as employee engagement evolves as part of the leadership philosophy within the culture of the organisation. Below are few observations about organisations at the each end of the lifecyle.

Employee Engagement Virgins - Organisations new to the concept of Employee Engagement as a tool to drive people and business performance function in the following ways:
• Responsibility – Driven largely by Human Resources with high level Senior Executive support.
• Measurement - Beginning to invest in some sort of tool like an employee engagement or satisfaction survey.
• Decision Making - Not often considered as part of the decision making process throughout usual business conversations.
• Communication - Ad-hoc communication and education of leaders about employee engagement; beginning to incorporate the concept as part of the leadership responsibilities.
• Culture – Engagement feels a little like a ‘bolt on’ to other people initiatives and is fairly separate to any other culture or people initiatives.

Employee Engagement Veterans – Organisations who have been focused on and invested in Employee Engagement as a key business driver for 5+ years:
• Responsibility – Everyone. Now embedded as part of the culture, all stakeholders including leaders and employees are involved with, and responsible for the employee engagement experience.
• Measurement - Engagement Surveys are held every 12 – 18 months with ‘Health Check’ strategies such as quarterly ‘pulse’ survey, focus groups or general anecdotal observations used to track progress.
• Decision Making - Employee Engagement is a factor that is considered as part of the normal business decision-making process i.e. just like the impact of a business decision on profit or market position.
• Communication – Leaders are clear about the concepts and their responsibilities around engagement and it is now something that is integrated into the way they lead their people on a regular basis.
• Culture – Frequently comments like ‘Engagement just happens now’ or ‘it’s easy’ mean that engagement is now embedded in the culture. For most, the process from Engagement Virgin to Veteran happens via natural progression over the years dependent on varying degrees of commitment, leadership and resources.

How can you get to Veteran without the toll of time and ‘war-time’ injuries? We believe there are 9 distinct steps throughout this lifecycle which start at Ignorance and lead ultimately to Momentum. Many organisations get stuck at Curiosity (stage 3) and Insight (stage 4) for years believing that an engagement survey is just a strategy i.e. simply ticking the box. The real value – Momentum – begins when organisations step into stage 5 (Educate) and beyond.

Thought Leader, Kate Boorer is an employee engagement and performance expert.


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