Recognise This! – There’s no “silver bullet” for employee engagement, but there are indisputable key elements to creating an environment in which employees want to engage.

I just finished reviewing an interesting report “Hitting the Right Note: Best Practice Guide to Employee Engagement.” (Summaried and made available for order here) Produced by Osney Media, it offers an interesting summation of much of the research on employee engagement from the last several years.

A few points I found interesting:

    * Employee engagement definition: A highlight of a CIPD definition of engagement as the intersection between “package” (pay, bonus, benefits), “job satisfaction” (achievement, respect and recognition, autonomy, etc.), and “employability” (career advancement, training and development opportunities, etc.). This intrigued me as it’s a very different take from the usual definition of engagement centred around employee discretionary effort. Three of the biggest employee concerns that affect engagement are addressed, however: am I being compensated fairly, am I acknowledged for the work I do, am I getting the additional development and interesting projects I need to move my career forward.

    * Positive psychology: Acknowledgment that employees who are truly happy create a “virtuous circle” of increased productivity, satisfaction, meaningfulness of work and a myriad of other benefits.

    * Measurement: Too many employee engagement surveys are conducted with no plan for what to do with the responses generated and insight gleaned. Surveys are not your answer to employee engagement. Clear communication and appropriate action based on what you may learn from surveys is.

    * Communication: Reiteration of the importance of communication with a clear strategy and from the top down and then across at all levels is critical to fostering a culture change. No initiative, no matter how well intended or requested by employees will be successful without appropriate communication.

A final thought – a quotation from research by Macey and Schneider:

    “There seems to be no silver bullet. … Companies that get these conditions right will have accomplished something that competitors will find very difficult to imitate. It is easy to change price and product: it is another thin to create a state and behaviourally engaged workforce.”

There is no silver bullet. What works for one company may not work for another that faces different challenges, different cultures, different markets. But it’s important to try. Because those who get it right will win in the marketplace.