Engage Employees in the Employee Engagement Process

Make Employee Engagement Personal and CollaborativeEngage Employees in the Employee Engagement ProcessEven though most organizations and their leadership team understand the need for better Employee Engagement and a strong workplace culture, most still struggle to create it.

Why is that?

In most cases, it's down to the fact that it is still viewed as a Management and/or Human Resources function....or a burden depending on where you stand.

The old and time-consuming method of seeking staff feedback via a lengthy opinion survey and then digging through the data looking for a golden nugget is still widely used and seen as the only option in many circles.

This is despite much research, chatter, and numerous articles that highlight the need to move on from this mindset to a more hands-on, agile, and immediate process that augments the overall Employee Experience...

As far back as 2014, global HR research analyst, advisor, and thought leader Josh Bersin (LinkedIn | Twitter) wrote in a Forbes article that the "days of the annual engagement survey are slowly coming to an end, to be replaced by a much more holistic, integrated, and real-time approach".   He was right in that they are coming to an end, but he was equally correct that it is happening slowly....too slowly for most.

Author Liz Ryan (LinkedIn | Twitter) called the annual survey "an insulting ritual" in another Forbes article and went on to say "employees have individual stories, ideas, and insights to share, but we tell them 'Wait until it's time to complete the survey' rather than tune in to the rich and contextual wisdom they're offering us every single day"

Today's employees expect workplace improvement information to be rapid, and to be included in any follow-up transformation activities.

The concept of waiting months for management to dissect a survey and then finally deliver some 'one-size-fits-all' solution does not compute for them... and quite frankly, it's an absurd and outdated idea.

Almost everything we do is highly interactive these days and the workforce is no exception.

We don't engage with social networks or call/text/visit friends and family once a year, so why should the so-called workplace engagement process be that way?

Employee Engagement thrives among small teams empowered to make improvementsEmployees need to feel an emotional attachment to their job, their team, their boss, and the business to become fully engaged in their work. This can only be achieved by empowering them to be agents of change (adhering to company strategies, policies, and procedures of course).

What is needed is an ongoing, agile initiative that constantly checks the 'health' of the workforce and then facilitates them in making targeted and sustainable improvements. Employees need to be given the mechanism and tools to work it out among themselves and set goals individually and as a team. A well-thought-out process will include (most of) the following traits...

  • Survey
    • Questions should focus on Employee Needs (rather than opinions on the company, management, etc...)
    • Questions should be Short and Easy to Complete (no one likes 60-100 questions that can take upwards of an hour)
    • Questions should be Assumption and Bias-Free (don't lead or assume a predisposition about how the workforce thinks)
    • Questions should be worded so they are actionable and facilitate easy follow up (questions such as "Do you like working here?" give you nothing to work with)
    • Occur at Regular Intervals such as Quarterly or Triannually to Track Progress (rather than a once-a-year chore)
  • Results
    • Immediate, Graphical Reports and Metrics (not wait months to collate and dissect answers)
    • Employees see their own Scores and the Averages of their team/department (now they feel part of the process)
    • Top-down Management Views (to see which teams/departments need help and in what areas)
    • Progress Tracking (able to see the real change at all levels across the company)
  • Actions
    • Collaborative, Relationship-Building Activities (employees interacting and getting to know their closest colleagues)
    • Should be Short and Easy to Complete (can be done in team meetings and do not detract from daily work)
    • Takeaways and Goal Setting (rather than just information, establishing goals will make the process transformational)

In addition, results and follow-up activities must be attainable at the individual and local levels within the organization. This is where the idea of using survey averages and trying to apply across-the-board fixes fails dramatically.

It is much better practice to focus on areas of need and empower each employee to discuss, plan and act with the 3, 7, 9 people they work with day in and day out. As Peter Drucker famously said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” So make sure each team has the information and autonomy to determine where they should channel their engagement efforts to maximize their chances for improvement and success.

For example, if the IT department is struggling with Motivation they need to focus on that to help boost engagement in their area. There is no point forcing everyone to look at Motivation and, conversely, there is no point asking the IT department to work on something they do well together.

Team A getting it right + Team B getting it right + Team C getting it right


Organizational Success

By implementing a program where the employees get immediate feedback on the state of their team and are then able to discuss (in an interactive and collaborative manner) ways to improve areas of concern, each team will boost engagement which leads to rapid holistic improvements across the organization.