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Carolyn Nevitte

People Insight

Marketing Director

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Three ways best employers show their people they are valued


Top performing organisations strive for employee engagement excellence as they know they’ll be more productive, grow faster and innovate more. They develop thriving cultures and winning people practices that propel them into the upper quartile of engaging employers. But how exactly do they do this?

People Insight supports hundreds of the UK’s top organisations measure and improve employee engagement. Our new study PIPER (People Insight Peak Engagement Research) interviews the most engaged employees to find out what exactly makes them buzz.

This fourth article (see one here, two here and three here) shares winning practices and behaviours that we know have worked because employees themselves have said so.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and Henderson Global Investors

Both charity CRUK and global asset manager Henderson Global Investors are in the top quartile of organisations, with an engagement score in the top 25% of the hundreds we work with.  A key engaging practice that unites them is how they value their employees through a culture of recognition and involvement.

Small acts of thoughtfulness are embedded in culture

The world of finance can be tough, yet Henderson has successfully established a culture where employees recognise others naturally and authentically. Emails are sent globally when someone has performed a good job, with a flurry of ‘well done’ replies in support.  Simple verbal thanks are commonplace. None of this is rocket science, but it takes continued effort to establish this habit. The resulting difference for any employee between feeling noticed and appreciated, or ignored and taken for granted, is vast.

“It’s so important to feed back quickly and honestly to people”, said one employee.

Simple or structured approaches to thanks depend on the circumstances

Impactful recognition is mirrored at CRUK. Whether it’s a verbal thank you, a phone call, an email or even taking an employee out for dinner, people across the organisation largely understand the exponential value of appreciating the individual.

An informal, fun tradition in one area of the business at CRUK involves staff having their photo taken with ‘Merit the toy slug’ if they’ve done great work. The photo and the individual’s accomplishment are shared around the team so everyone can see what has been achieved and everyone gets to comment.

But if the achievement is really worthy, individuals might be lucky enough to win an ‘Our Heroes Award’; a cross directorate scheme where employees more formally nominate, recognise and celebrate one another. The awards also give the opportunity to learn and hear about the achievements across the organisation.

“Employees need different forms of recognition, for some people Merit the slug works but for others, where a lot of effort has been made, a more formal way to be recognised can work better. It varies and is based on the type of work and effort that’s been put forth by the employee.”

My organisation cares what I think

Maslow underlined our need for esteem and feeling valued by others. Another way to achieve this beyond recognition is by showing people that their opinion is important. That’s why CRUK and Henderson solicit input from employees in a number of ways.

The non-hierarchical, open culture at Henderson means that employees feel able to speak up– and importantly, feel they will be listened to via a variety of mechanisms:

  1. A monthly communications forum is attended by representatives of each business area, who bring questions, ideas and suggestions from their teams. The heads of HR and Facilities attend, making sure actions are taken forward with the relevant stakeholders. It is completely transparent – anyone can feed in, and all the inputs and outputs are visible from the published minutes.
  2. Another communication tool is the weekly ‘News Bytes’ bulletin circulated to the whole organisation. It’s a vehicle for management to communicate outwards, but similarly every employee has the freedom to contribute.
  3. As part of Henderson’s annual employee engagement survey communications process, the senior management team talk frankly about the results, and employees know there is a real benefit to taking the time to input – indeed 80% of staff said they feel encouraged to suggest new ideas for improvement in their latest engagement survey.

The feedback culture that exists within CRUK aims to be ongoing rather than adhoc. A recent charity wide programme (Fit For the Future) got over 350 staff involved in ideas workshops on how the organisation can be more efficient. Whether it’s the annual employee engagement survey, one-to-ones with line managers, monthly team meetings or simply informal team huddles, managers look to actively encourage employees to ‘constructively challenge’, with feedback then getting fed  back into senior management.

The generally open and approachable leadership structure makes this flow of information valuable.

“You can tell that leaders think things through and take all the input into consideration before giving a response to employees.”

Is your organisation in the top quartile of engaging organisations?

To find out how your engagement levels compare with your peers, and what you can do to improve, talk to us at People Insight. We’d love to hear from you!

People Insight are supporting the Employee Engagement Awards 2016 where we’ll showcase more fantastic examples of winning engagement practices. Find out more here.

Author Profile Picture
Carolyn Nevitte

Marketing Director

Read more from Carolyn Nevitte