I’ve worked in marketing for nearly 15 years; understanding what a client needs to communicate, to whom and the best way to do it. DONE. For the first time in my career, I’ve been looking inwards and turning my attention to staff engagement and our internal communications. I’ve found it an inspiring exercise and wanted to share some of my experience with you.
It’s a timely exercise for us too as we’ve undergone a period of faster-than-normal growth with the addition of Tasty Marketing and EC Design to our team. Change can be onerous to some so it’s crucial to be as transparent as possible with your employees about your plans and goals.
So, we’ve all heard the phrase ‘Employee Engagement’ being banded around, but what is it? Why should we bother and more importantly, how do we do it?
To achieve employee engagement, your employees must have:
(1) Emotional attachment to their job, their work or the company
(2) Rational understanding of the company’s values, goals and their role in helping the organisation to achieve these
(3) Motivation and willingness to perform better
Research has shown, time and again, that employees who are engaged significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged. SIMPLE!
In addition to improved performance, companies have reported that when employee engagement is high, they experience lower rates of absence through sickness.
Disengaged staff are more likely to look for alternative employment opportunities. So save yourself the time and cost of constantly replacing staff and spend your time looking at how to get and keep your staff engaged….
Dale Carnegie (a performance-based training company with offices worldwide) teamed with MSW Research to study the functional and emotional elements that affect employee engagement. A national representative sample of 1,500 employees was surveyed, which revealed that although there are many factors that impact employee engagement, there are three key drivers:
(1) Relationship with direct manager
(2) Belief in senior leadership
(3) Pride in working for the company
“You must capture the heart of a supremely able man before his brain can do its best.”
— Andrew Carnegie
So what does this mean for business owners and managers?
It is imperative that staff receive at least one formal annual appraisal. The format of the appraisal must allow for two-way communication and feedback between the manager and the employee.
Employers must also consider alternative escalation procedures for when relationships have broken down between managers and their employees, i.e. your HR representative, an independent HR consultant or, for smaller organisations, a trusted and liked neutral employee who can act as an intermediary or an escalation path to senior management.
Personal goals should be identified and defined for each employee in order to satisfy their hunger to continue learning and enhance their skill sets. Training and growth plans need to be mutually agreed and planned.
As well as growth plans, provide employees with a defined career path and an understanding of what level of achievement is expected in what time frame in order to progress their career.
It’s not enough just to put up a memo in the kitchen or to send an internal email to all….
The company’s goals and vision should be defined, written down and shared – regularly!
Hold regular company meetings; company leaders need to believe in the company’s vision and values and show that passion to the rest of the workforce.
Remember internal communication needs to be a two way process. Ask your staff for their feedback and input so that goals are shared, not enforced.
When employees show that they are acting in line with the company’s values, ensure it is recognised and if warranted, rewarded. This can be on a personal or company-wide scale.
Personally, I also believe in telling people what not to do. That may sound simple, but you’d be surprised how often people omit to do it. Let me add that this direction must be given in a positive way!
This might sound like stating the obvious, but the rise of technology and connectivity in recent years can cause a ‘blurring of lines’ between home and work. Constant connectivity does not necessarily equate to increased productivity. Everyone needs down time!
Education, expertise and experience are generally the main factors considered during the interview process. If you are not already doing so, you need to add another layer to your recruitment process; recruit for ‘company fit’. This can be achieved by utilising psychometric or personality testing at the interview stage.
There is a lot I could say about the various different tests available and their suitability for your different needs, but I think I will save that for another blog! Watch this space…..
I can’t stress enough how important it is not to just pay lip service to an employee engagement initiative; employees need to believe that their organisation is genuinely interested in them. So, if you don’t mean it, don’t do it!
Our MD, Paul Tansey, has always been an advocate of transparent management style; our company’s mission, goals and values are defined, documented and discussed regularly with our employees.
We ask staff regularly for their feedback and positively solicit their ideas on ways to improve the company.
On a personal level, we have a formal appraisal procedure but also encourage regular informal meetings between individuals and their managers.
Of course, we organise all the usual social activities to suit the differing tastes of our vast array of staff; dog racing, picnics, treasure hunts, themed office days, staff parties, bowling…. the list goes on!
One initiative that is unique to Intergage and is the brain child of Paul Tansey, is our Dream Days scheme. I will commit to a separate blog with more detail about our plans, but to give you an abridged overview; a Dream Day is an extra day of holiday and comes with a financial bonus per Dream Day. They are earned for exceptional performance or for delivery of additional projects. The idea is that staff work towards achieving their dreams and are able to do so with the opportunity to take four consecutive weeks off work along with some extra cash to boot. We currently have staff hoping to achieve their dreams of travelling through America in a Winnebago, swimming in the glaciers and following the Lion’s tour!
Remember, having engaged happy employees only provides positive results – so if you’re not paying it your serious attention already, you should be!
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