First came nap pods, then came Pawternity leave. Now we have entered the age of Employee Engagement.

What is Employee Engagement?

If you use LinkedIn as a yardstick for the state of office politics, it seems that the engagement & retention of staff is high on the agenda of managers across the land. Everyone’s least favourite LinkedIn users Oleg & Bridgette steal content on the matter daily. So you know it must be important.
But if you are behind the curve on this one then I am here to fill in some of the blanks. If you know your stuff then feel free to skip ahead to the next section.
I’ve traced employee engagement back almost 30 years to William Kahn’s Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work. In the study, William calls it Personnel Engagement and defines it as:
“The harnessing of organisation members’ selves to their work roles. In engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances.”
This comes down the psychological connection a person has with their work. Going far beyond the financial incentives they receive for doing a good job. Someone in a well-paid job can still resent the work they do or the company they work for. In fact, I would argue that those doing so are contributing to the problem of poor employee engagement becoming a norm. If somebody sticks to the status quo, despite their apathy to the business, it reduces the impact of those who decide to act. Making them look like a bad apple, rather than forcing the business to look internally at the wider problem they have.
As a recruitment agency, you can imagine we would encourage people to leave roles they don’t love. And we’re not going to lie, we do.
But that’s only because we are confident that we know of a role that will improve the candidate’s quality of life.
So now we know the definition, “how can we measure it?” I hear you ask.
Well, minds smarter than ours have developed the 4 enablers of success in employee engagement. They designed factors similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Though these Enablers work hand in hand and are not mutually exclusive, as Maslow’s model is.

4 Enablers of Success

There are several versions of this model. But, we found Engage for Success‘ ticking the right boxes for engagement in the workplace.

Strategic Narrative

This comes from the leadership team of a business; the structure of the culture and what employees can & can’t expect from the organisation.
Important because everybody loves boundaries in life. Once you have your expectations set from your employers, you can focus on your role. Knowing that the conditions of the workplace have been set in stone.
Uncertainty in the workplace can be a very disruptive force – and not the good type of disruptive – the kind where your mind wanders onto matters that aren’t productive to your role.

Engaging Managers

Well-engaged teams are generally led by well-mannered managers that consider the wants & needs of their staff. Engaging managers will make employees feel a part of the team. Setting clear objectives both individually and as a collective, as well as showing how someone’s work contributes to the wider organisation’s success.

Employee Voice

Giving employees a platform for them to speak their mind is critical in the progress of a business. Considering the views of those at all levels of the organisation is central to solving internal issues. Empathy is one of the more underrated skills in vertical communication in the hierarchy, on both sides of the argument. The leadership team should understand the struggles of the ‘shop floor’ employees and vice versa.
Engage for Success note this as the cheapest smoke alarm a business can install. It is an early warning system for issues that have the potential to snowball. Opening dialogue without prejudice can highlight problems staff are having when implementing processes. Allowing tweaks for improvements before a real problem occurs.

Organisational Integrity

The ‘say-do’ gap; the integrity of an organisation lies within its ability to action changes promised to employees. It can be very easy to promise the world to an employee that has just handed in their resignation. Ensure you keep these promises to avoid setting an unwanted precedent.
Actions will always speak louder than words. Following up on promises made is the most effective way to build a relationship of trust.

A Brief Rundown of the Toolkit

Recognising the trend towards self-awareness within organisations. We have developed a toolkit for team leaders, managers & HR professionals everywhere. To measure the engagement of their employees; because you can’t make plans for improvement until you know your benchmark.

In this toolkit you will find:

  • A survey measuring the 8 factors of engagement
    • The same that are measured for The Times Top 100
  • Staff turnover & absenteeism formulas
  • Net Promoter Score
    • Everything you’ll need to determine how your employees talk about you behind your back
  • Stay/Exit interview structure guides
    • Tips to maximise the effectiveness of these meetings
Using this toolkit, you will be able to gauge where you are currently at with your employee engagement levels. From here you will be able to put things in place to improve upon this. which will improve retention (hiring managers everywhere rejoice) and productivity.

Examples of great engagement

At this point, you might expect me to show you examples of bad employee engagement, and how damaging that can be to a business. Yet, I prefer to focus on the brighter things in life. So here are a few examples of businesses that have their engagement strategies absolutely nailed.
Insurance giant Admiral leads the way when it comes to employee engagement in the UK. David Stevens is the CEO of the Cardiff based organisation. He ensures that he meets every new starter to the business face-to-face. When it comes to team bonding events, Admiral is leagues ahead of most. Last year they rented out the Principality Stadium for the latest edition of their staff party taking place every other year. 2018’s theme was festivals around the world, with décor inspired by the Rio Carnival, Mardi Gras in New Orleans & Pride in San Francisco. Beyond knowing how to throw a party, Admiral offers every member of staff a channel of communication with the CEO. This is for them to have their thoughts and questions on the business answered.
Personal growth is a big factor for this hospitality organisation. With their Connect Progression Chart, they encourage employees to upskill themselves. To not only make them better at their jobs but give them more fulfilment in work. Another key factor in Connects’ success as an employer is their dedication to the wellbeing of their staff. Like the progression chart, Connect has its Workplace Worries Policy. Staff can use this to privately contact managers about issues & concerns they may have at work.
They have earned the reputation of having the most qualified teams in the country for Windows, Linux, Red Hat & Cisco. This comes from their incredible commitment to the training & development of their staff. With onsite classrooms and an auditorium, UKFast encourage their staff at all levels, to enhance their skill-sets. A belief not in recruiting the best but in creating the best has earned them countless employee engagement awards. Taking inspiration from Admiral, in 2016 UKFast hosted UKFest. This was a Festival based in Greater Manchester with Example headlining the day. Something that sets UKFast aside from many other employers is the unity they create between their teams. Each year, they split their staff into 3 ‘house’ teams and compete in competitions across the year. This culminates with a presentation to the winning side as part of the Christmas Party.

Employee engagement goes way further than a pool table, or company-wide festivals. It relates to the lengths that a business will go to to ensure that they are providing their staff with everything they need to be successful.

If you are looking for a way of measuring the engagement of your teams download our Employee Engagement Toolkit below!


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