Try and name the best and worst places you ever worked without highlighting employee engagement techniques which would have played a part – almost impossible isn’t it? You may have wanted to mention a great manager, a great part of the job or the way you were treated, conversely you may have highlighted their absence but employee engagement touches every part of our working life.
This makes it all the more remarkable when I look back at my ten years consulting businesses around the world, that employee engagement wasn’t a staple term around most C-Level suites even five years ago; however we only need to look at recent changes in our organisations to see its importance, we have gone from the age of Human Resources to the age of People Services, Benefits and Rewards professionals have been usurped by Employee Advocacy and Engagement experts, and critically top down communications has evolved into collaboration where the ability to listen is as critical as the ability to broadcast.
Understanding the Engagement Levels of your employees
Employee Engagement can be a catch all term but Betty Bender masters this by summarising: “When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” But what does this look like?
In C-Level sessions I often break employee engagement down to four key activities: motivated, remunerated, collaborated and celebrated to allow for a strategic view.
For practitioners implementing behavioural change and measurement, Gallup’s Q12 gives us a great starting point.
The Gallup Q12 identifies key behaviours as the best predictors of workforce and employee engagement:
- I know what is expected of me at work.
- At work, my opinions seem to count.
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
- The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
- At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
- My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
- I have a best friend at work.
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
- In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
- There is someone at work who encourages my development.
- This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
When we look critically, most businesses cover aspects of this but how many of us can say we do it very well? If you can you are in an elite few, if you can’t, are you leveraging the technology available to make this easy? I want to share how leading organisations around the world use their Interact intranets to transform engagement and broader business benefits effortlessly.
“I know what is expected of me at work”
If your gut instinct was to respond that an employee has a job spec and annual reviews, you’re missing a large chunk of this motivator.
Linking to job and review details can be remarkably quick, and with so many web-based applications offering single sign on capabilities, employees can access their details within seconds.
However, this also has an unspoken element: what am I allowed to do at work? If I’m seen to be answering questions or blogging often on our intranet, is this viewed as a positive? Is it recognised?
When we look at organisations like Ragan Award Winner for Value to Employees, Sport England, we see that by enabling people to share what they do and the problems they face, 93% of all activity came from their non-author workforce i.e. those whose contributions were beyond their role, not part of it.
This enabled them to create new effective methods of working and a wider understanding of what was happening across the organisation in a manner traditional comms don’t allow, Tanya Joseph, Executive Director Business Partnerships at Sport England, commented:
“Staff feedback in late 2013 revealed that colleagues felt we could collaborate more and be better at sharing across the business. They told us that they got enough ‘top-down’ information but they wanted better ways to pick up on what was going on across the organisation. So, we made collaboration between colleagues much easier with our refreshed intranet.”
“At work, my opinions seem to count”
Many of us will have taken part in surveys at some point of our career where the results were never shared. Did my opinion count? Did the survey just get thrown away? Did you find yourself uttering “typical of this place” and ended up seeing the survey as a negative?
Your collaborative technology should be making this measure easy, not only can you create and conduct surveys quickly using Workflow and Forms, you can run a range of pulse surveys throughout the year using polls to understand changes of opinion and perception across the business.
Furthermore are you encouraging the ideas of your workforce to create success? Organisations across the world readily pay for third party consultancy services to boost their products and services without stepping back to consider the creativity which already exists.
If you employ 5,000 people in your organisation with an average salary of $45,000, you could be missing out on $225 million of ideas, scary isn’t it?
Ideation forums allow for people to make suggestions and colleagues to vote and comment, allowing ideas to evolve from a suggestion to the next killer product or service for your business.
Paula Kenyon, a previous Ragan Social Intranet Award winner at financial services organisation Dollar Finance, reveals the power employee insight can give:
“Forums have driven business decisions. We asked Store Managers whether their store should open on a Sunday, and all 600+ came back via the thread to explain why they should or shouldn’t. When someone questioned why Store Managers in some areas got paid more than others, another store manager (not one of the highest paid ones) gave their view of salary and why it made sense for busier stores to pay more, no intervention needed! When we wanted to know if we should release a uniform, we asked our staff via forums.”
“I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right”
Frequently asked questions are the curse of any administrative team, meanwhile the person needing the information will be frustrated by the wait. Remove this by centralising the knowledge and tools your employees need.
Financial Services organisation Yorkshire Building Society ensured that their branch-based employees were delivering exceptional customer service with the information they needed immediately available. Rather than needing to leave a customer waiting whilst they read through extensive processes, simple techniques made it easy for the employee to respond in seconds.
Claire Brennan, Intranet Manager, shares: “These additions have gone a long way to addressing the previous issues of lengthy document scrolling and granular level detail – the latter welcomed by new starters, the summary favoured by long standing colleagues.
Standard features from the Interact product such as dynamically generated content linking procedures with appropriate system guides and other relevant content, and the search function, were also a huge hit with our customer facing colleagues.
Further though, our new policies and procedures section has created a sense of ownership among customer facing colleagues. For example, colleagues now regularly use the feedback button to flag issues with, or suggest improvements to, existing processes. They feel a great sense of satisfaction from being responsible for initiating change in the way we do things as a business.”
Meanwhile your intranet need not be limited to those with company technology. The majority of Stagecoach’s 35,000 employees are bus and train drivers. The availability of information from rotas through to process changes is critical and needs to create an ‘I want to access the intranet mentality’.
Ricky Sicklemore, Communications and Recruitment Manager at Stagecoach heralds the transformation: “Our intranet now fills the communications void and allows all our staff, but particularly our customer facing staff, opportunities to access information, pass comment, question and discuss issues in a way not available before, and at a time and place that they wish to access it. The power of this medium to give up to date, relevant and transparent information and responses to questions is now steadily supplanting the traditional methods of communication, and the barrack-room lawyers holding court in the canteens are a dying breed.”
“The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important”
Progress shouldn’t be an annual report: setting small goals and achievements make success tangible.
Make a Wish Foundation are superb at this, sharing the stories of the children whose wishes they make come true with their Wish Corner whilst also ensuring their employees and volunteers have instant access to critical tools.
Whilst you may not have a message as powerful as Make a Wish’s, ensuring success is front and centre will engender that sense of ongoing achievement.
“At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day”
Our skillset is often perceived to be intrinsic to our job title, but limiting your mindset to this misses out on the exceptional skills buried in the most unlikely places in our businesses.
Nielsen Norman Group recognised Business Environment (BE) in the Collaboration Annual for exceptional intranets. BE made extensive use of their People Directory’s skills to encourage employees to populate their skills and ensure talent was maximised within the business.
Employees have consistently been given additional roles from a receptionist who now takes all company photography and a security guard who went on to join the IT team. Skills save external expenditure and create new career paths for your employees.
“My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work”
Collective pride is critical to a motivated workforce. A great way to do this is to not just list what departments and functions do but to share the experiences as story tellers.
Online marketers Dex Media are awesome at this:
As Paul Dang, Employee Communications Specialist shares, their intranet The Buzz “has allowed us to develop our own company voice, which we were desperately in need of in this post-merger atmosphere. The Buzz has been promoting the company culture, which many of our employees – spread across the country and in virtual workspaces – didn’t even know existed prior to the new intranet.
Everyone’s on the same page now and the proof for our intranet success is in the proverbial pudding. Our Analytics shows an immediate readership increase in the month following the launch. User engagement has been steadily increasing, with our most popular articles receiving more than 60 comments per page.”
Now we may not all have a department who taste test pizzas for Pizza Hut but great stories engage however they’re told. You may or may not receive 60 comments asking to learn more but conversations and new relationships will be formed which will benefit the knowledge and efficiencies of your company.
“In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work”
When was the last time somebody told you that you’d done a great job? How did it make you feel? It’s good isn’t it? Yet many of us work in businesses which are poor at this. However, there is good news, as encouraging this is remarkably simple using rewards.
Ragan Intranet Design Award winners William Grant, the world famous producer of whiskies around the world are masters of this. Labelling their rewards Cheers, employees around the business reward each other for great work and going beyond the day job.
“I have a best friend at work”
Friendships are built in a number of ways at work. It might not just be the people in your team or you work with, with a lot of my close friends having come from social groups at work, be that sports or activities.
Encourage this by enabling interests on your intranet, this is a great way to see who else is into the same things you are and can be easily transformed into a team which can plan events around an interest, whether that’s a weekly match or sharing what you love.
“My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person” and “in the last six months someone has talked about my progress”
Managers and supervisors are people too and by their nature will vary in how engaged they are in their direct reports. Whilst you may not be able to turn every manager into a master, toolkits can be a great way to help people build on any inert people skills, teams are a great way to encourage this success.
“This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow”
Never underestimate personal growth, many employees do not move on because they dislike your company but often because they have hit a glass ceiling. We’ve examined how you can uncover hidden skills but you can also cultivate them.
ASPCA recently scooped the American Engagement Awards Project of the Year for their widespread success engaging a distribution workforce and was widely acclaimed for the way they create a virtual people driven support network.
They provide tools across their business to ensure that people are equipped for the role they have and the roles they want.
“How can I kick start engagement and adoption via our intranet?”
You may be at one of a variety of stages with your employee engagement plans. You may be masters of the art; you may be struggling with certain aspects or looking at how to start to be better at it.
A simple to use and highly flexible intranet will enable you to achieve a wide range of successes without needing to increase the size of your team. If you are looking for a simple technique to begin, why not follow March of Dimes’ 30 Day Engagement Plan?
Geoff Garcia, Director of Intranet Services and Business Analysis, used it as a great way to boost their engagement and collaborative behaviours “For the past year, March of Dimes has been undertaking a major strategic realignment to improve our operational efficiency.
Part of the communication plan around the realignment project involved using a 30-day challenge to engage employees in “micro-actions” each day for thirty days. The goal of the challenge was to focus on helping the Foundation establish a more open environment for communication and problem-solving…this challenge for cultural change has been an enormous success in terms of improving the adoptions and understanding of the tools available in our intranet.”