Engagement – it’s more than just a survey

 

By Robert Walker, Smith & Henderson Engagement Consultant

People are the most valuable asset of an organisation and to maximise effectiveness of this asset, employees need to be fully engaged in the business.

All organisations want to know the secret formula, or Holy Grail, for successful employee engagement, so in this article, we’ll explore some of expectations and interests by the segments/hierarchies as they prepare to go through the employee survey experience.

An organisation’s decision makers need to be on board of any engagement improvement initiative; be clear of their roles and responsibilities, and how they will measure the progress against objectives for improvement on a qualitative and quantitative basis.  Metrics such as turnover, absenteeism, customer service will be used alongside “softer” responses, such as increased morale and motivation, lower stress and tension. Business results: increased profits, lower costs and increased market share, will be front-of-mind in terms of longer-term output, whilst clear Board communication of progress against actions, will help to engender a sense of collective ownership, and a deeper connection by all to the organisation’s vision and mission. They will need to manage their own fears and uncertainty about what may result. It’s all about change, and with that, there is bound to be personal apprehension.

Moving down a level, line/senior managers need to understand how their personal actions can make or break the success of the survey. Throughout the implementation phase, a line manager’s positivity about the activity, the organisation, and their role in managing their team’s understanding and expectations of the survey, will transfer positivity to others. In terms of the survey completion, timescales, actions and communications need to translate to everyone concerned, along with managing concerns and issues about confidentiality which so often put employees off its completion. Essentially, post survey, their role will focus on better ways of working to release the full capabilities and potential of people at work, whilst at the same time enabling organisational growth.

As for employees; individual needs can vary wildly, dependent upon experience of their manager, attitude, motivation and willingness to be involved in working upon the survey outcomes. Employees want to be assured their voice is heard; that there is confidentiality, honesty and openness about the process and progress and signposts for activity which will involve or impact upon them. They will want opportunities to actively work to make things better, to improve their performance, and for managers to translate outputs into language, activity and behaviour they understand. For example, what is the point of talking about championing best practice, to an operative in the field, if they don’t understand what it personally means to them?

In all cases, at an organisational level, the power and potential of engagement can be realised when there is an attempt to minimise the use of rules, policies and hierarchical barriers in the survey process, so that all team members feel they have an equal voice. Then they can work together towards a shared future, with higher levels of personal contracting, involvement and ownership. Whilst that’s an ideal state, every organisation should aim to do so.