How do you improve the engagement culture within your organisation?

Employee Engagement is big business these days. A recent internet search I carried out highlighted 5,370,000 results on Google and 2,005 books on Amazon. (By the time you read this, those numbers will probably have increased!) There are also a multitude of surveys that measure indicators of employee engagement that organisations dedicate a huge amount of time and money to. It is the subject of many books, websites, government research papers, conferences – to name but a few – but the common denominator in the majority of this information is ‘What Employee Engagement is’ rather than ‘What it isn’t’.

So let’s explore a few things that Employee Engagement isn’t….

It’s not an event; something that happens when the engagement survey is completed. The survey is a measure and snapshot of attitudes at the time. Engagement is something that both individuals and leaders need to think about on a daily basis. It needs to become a way of working.  It’s about the HOW as much as it’s about the WHAT. 

It’s not something that sits on your to-do list. Engagement is achieved through the thinking and actions of your team, which in turn lead to results.

Engagement is not a task that you do on a Tuesday between 3.00pm and 4.00pm. It acts as an enabler for your entire to-do list as a way of getting things done faster, effectively and more innovatively.

It’s not an HR buzz word. It’s a real catalyst for better business results! It may have risen to the top of organisational priority lists in the recent decade but it’s been around for years.

It’s not a set of actions that only remove the ‘dis-satisfiers’ in an organisation – the broken down photocopier, the shortage of tea bags, outdated technology, payroll errors for example. These are things that cause annoyance and frustration for people and whilst it’s important to address these ‘dis-satisfiers’, this only tackles peoples ‘away from’ motivation by removing sources of ‘pain’. As a balance there also needs to be a set of actions that address peoples ‘towards’ motivation. These are the satisfiers that lead to true engagement, the things that cause people to want to come to work, do a great job and stay with you.

It’s not something that only a few people are responsible for. Setting up an action team or a focus group can be a good idea to help clear obstacles, measure progress and implement some quick wins off the back of the survey. However the risk with this approach is that it’s easy for the other 99.5% of the population to sit back and wait for someone else to improve engagement.

I believe that to increase employee engagement, everyone can take a hard look at their own levels of engagement, take personal responsibility for making it better.  One way to take responsibility is to have positive relationships with others at work to help you to succeed on both an individual and business level.  An organisation that fosters positive relationships, good team working and good atmosphere is likely to be more effective and profitable, plus have a lower staff turnover and lower absenteeism. One of the key drivers of employee engagement is relationships at work.  

So here are 10 practical tips to help you involve others to improve the levels of engagement in your organisation.

1) Start with the reasons. Whenever you start a task or a new goal ask yourself the question; ‘What might be the possible reasons to involve someone in this activity?’ This will ensure you then invite a diverse range of people to help you.

2) Identify who in your organisation could give you a fresh eyes perspective and at the same time would really relish the opportunity to be asked to contribute ideas. It’s not always the expert who has all the solutions. Plus the person with the fresh eyes may be motivated by being asked to contribute ideas and opinions.

3) Involve your biggest critics and cynics. They might be the people who feel that their ideas and opinions have not been valued in the past. Involving them will start to reverse that view and in return you will find an engaged employee with ideas they enjoy contributing.

4) Take inspiration from unlikely places! Looking for more ideas about how to increase employee engagement and feel like you have exhausted the thinking in your organisation? Think creatively about who you could involve. For example: your neighbour; what does their organisation do to increase employee engagement? Your partner; what happens in their organisation? When you are supermarket shopping; look more closely for sign of employee engagement activity. When you visit a supplier; ask what they do. The possibilities to learn are endless if daily you see everyone around you in a different way.

5) Ask for feedback for yourself from a range of sources. Open up your blind spots. What might you learn about what you could possibly change about yourself, to not only increase your own engagement but to increase the positive impact you have on others.

6) Identify your people with the great attitude. Typically an organisation has 10% of its people that are go-getters and have helpful thoughts the majority of the time, 80% of staff generally perform well and come to work to do their job, and then there are the bottom 10% who do not care. They do not want to be there and generally have a high number of hindering thoughts about the Organisation. Identify your people with the great attitude and get them involved in making a difference that can help achieve your engagement goals.

7) Reach out in times of need. Over the course of life, we all experience difficult times, whether it’s sickness, the death of a loved one, divorce or some other circumstance. Don’t be indifferent; show you care. Send a card, a note, flowers, or – my favourite – cartons of ice cream shipped in dry ice (I kid you not). Remember that a life not lived for others is a life not lived.

8) Reflect on your relationships at work, what is the quality of these relationships? Consider how you could possibly improve these relationships.

9) Involve people in the ‘nice’ jobs as well as the ‘nasty’ jobs. Do you always delegate the routine and less stretching jobs? Think about how could share some of the excitement attached to other pieces of work. Remember ‘excitement’ and ‘boring’ are subjective words. What may be exciting for you could be very boring for someone else! Find out what ticks the excitement boxes for them.

10) Make it okay to ask for help by giving yourself and others permission to do this. Many people walk round with a belief in their heads that asking for help is somehow not okay. Asking for help will not only make others feel more involved but it could also save time and money.

A colleague and I are writing a book, due to be released in a few weeks, that aims to explain why taking a results focused approach to employee engagement is so important. We’re currently giving out a pre-release proof copy for free, hoping to gather feedback to help develop the first edition for release. If you want to give us some feedback, that’s great! If not, you can still have a free proof copy to read.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.