14 May Employee engagement
In these strange and challenging times it’s even more important to show our care and support for our colleagues. We all know the importance of employee engagement on important stuff such as customer satisfaction and profitability (if you don’t please ask and I will email you the research), and now engagement is important because it’s the right thing to do. If people are still working for us, or if they are furloughed, we need to show we care, that people feel supported and are informed about what’s going on in the business.
I want to share some frameworks and ask some questions to get you thinking about how you can boost engagement in these challenging times. And I want to be clear we aren’t experiencing this virus in the same way, so we need to be able to flex our approach to help our people.
The first framework is from the Engage for Success Movement which was created in 2008 to research employee engagement in the UK, and does great work to share the love for employee engagement. One framework E4S offers is the four enablers that contribute to successful employee engagement:
1. Strategic narrative – the story of the organisation, the purpose of the business and where it’s going, described in heartfelt and compelling words that put people and customers at the centre.
2. Engaging Managers – managers that agree priorities, give meaningful feedback, that coach, motivate and inspire us to be our best.
3. Employee Voice – people can contribute, are listened to and share their ideas on problems, solutions and possible improvements.
4. Organisational Integrity – values that are lived every day, where commitments are honoured and people are trusted. Doing the right thing in times of crisis can be hard, and these are the times where people will remember how they were treated. I appreciate that this is hard for many businesses right now – the immediate challenge of profitability and of keeping the business going versus engaging people and keeping people involved is real for many, and leaders and managers that take the time and care to listen, involve and do the right thing are creating loyalty, encouraging great ideas and engagement.
Ideas around the four enablers of engagement include:
- Virtual ‘Town Hall’ meetings where you share the hopes for the future, actions you are taking to create revenue, customer service and invite views on current challenges
- Q and A emails, or a Teams space where people can ask questions, share ideas, reflect on what’s going well and not so well
- Zoom conferences where you bring people together to look at specific challenges and how they can be solved. You share the challenges, and agree the process for problem solving and create small groups in breakout rooms to create options and solutions
- Freeform 121s where you chat, talk about what’s on your mind, share your own experiences of the lockdown, and your hopes for the future
- Offer people the behind the scenes reflection on why you are making some decisions – if you are stopping some production lines explain why, if you are refining your product line explain why. Showing your integrity is similar to ‘showing your working out’ in a maths test at school
- Encourage managers to coach by sharing your own experiences of coaching, and coach your own team – the best way is for your team to experience what you would like them to do
Another way of exploring employee engagement is to look at the Gallup 12 questions. I want to be clear; engagement isn’t a survey; a survey is a way of measuring the levels of engagement in your business. By purely measuring engagement and doing nothing with the results can have a detrimental impact as people are expecting action and if you do nothing people are likely to be disappointed, frustrated or even feel betrayed.
The Twelve Questions give a clear insight into what you can do to boost engagement as part of your practise as a manager, and the questions are:
- 1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
- 2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
- 3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
- 4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
- 5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
- 6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
- 7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
- 8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
- 9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
- 10. Do you have a best friend at work?
- 11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
- 12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?
Ideas around the Gallup 12 include:
- Scheduling in time to talk about your colleague’s strengths, and how they can use these strengths in their work priorities
- Encouraging chat time in meetings – checking in, inviting people to share how they are, how they are managing in these challenging times and what they are up to can all encourage relationships to be built
- For me the one question that lights up with importance is my manager cares about me as a person. I keep on saying it: we are experiencing these times very differently, and we can feel overwhelmed, positive, nervous, sad and happy all in one day. One key supporter is your manager – can you talk with them? Are they approachable? Do you feel judged or valued? Managers using their emotional intelligence to be present for their teams can boost engagement and well-being.
And lastly your own level of engagement
How you are feeling about work, the future, your workload and your family will impact on your own level of engagement, and the impact you have on your colleagues. Managing your own resilience and engagement can feel indulgent, and I want to be clear right now, looking after yourself is key for your leadership and your own health. If you are working from home move at regular intervals! Our heart rate slows down, and our energy levels slump when we are static, so take regular breaks and get up. In my next blog I will look more deeply at this topic, for now I want to say you are doing great, we are all in such unknown times and developing coping strategies are key to making it through. I am not here to encourage you to be a lockdown high achiever. There is an undercurrent to learn a new skill, to decorate the home, to plant vegetables and other self-development activities. I am more practical – if I make it out the other side with good relationships, some good memories and maybe a jigsaw completed this will be fine.
Some reflection questions:
- Am I truly listening to my team?
- How am I showing my care for people?
- How can I share the story of our future?
- What can I do to invite people to create our effectiveness?
- What steps can I practically do to boost my own engagement right now?