Concept. Employee Engagement. Introduction. What does it mean?

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1 Concept Employee Engagement Introduction Increasing employee satisfaction has long been a goal of organisations as they strive to retain talent, increase productivity and seek improvement. In more recent times striving for higher employee satisfaction has appeared in various initiatives including employee engagement programs. How can organisations make initiatives such as employee engagement programs derive lasting benefits and not pass through the organisation like yet another business fad? What does it mean? Employee engagement may be seen as enabling employees to participate in the organisation in ways that extend beyond the core processes that make up their jobs. Activities included in employee engagement programs vary and should be tailored to the organisation, however, they may include providing: employees with information regarding the vision, strategies and plans; providing employees with a broader context of the services or products they provide including how they fit in broader production processes, who uses the products or services and how successful they are; providing employees with timely and accurate information to better enable them to do their job; effective organisational and individual performance management; providing avenues for employee feedback for process and other business improvements; and providing avenues for employee communication of issues regarding their wellbeing and level of satisfaction with their role. Beyond employee satisfaction, a well engaged workforce is critical in activities such as Quality Systems, risk management, Occupational Health and Safety and organisational objectives such as innovation. ISO 9001 Cert. No. FS Prominence Pty Ltd ABN PO Box 66 Taigum QLD 4018 T (07) Commercial in confidence 2012 Prominence Pty Ltd All rights reserved

2 Employee Engagement Concept Why does it fail? Undertaken as an isolated project without links to other aspects of the business, this type of initiative will often wither and die. Common reasons for this include: limited integration a lack of links to other organisational activities increases the perception that the engagement is all additional work and limits the opportunities for employee engagement to yield benefits across the business; outcomes not seen a lack of action on feedback provided by employees quickly builds disillusionment in participants such that the feedback stops; a lack of recognition of feedback even if no action can be taken, a lack of acknowledgement that feedback has been received will also build disillusionment; too much effort for the benefits keeping communication channels open takes effort and poor design may mean that the effort is too great to sustain; not usable a failure to fill communication channels with relevant and usable information can drive people to find and use other information sources they feel they can trust; misinterpreting a lack of participation a lack of participation from employees may not mean a failure in employee engagement. It is important to recognise that some employees may have high satisfaction levels without feeling the need to communicate further with the business. Employees may also be cautious about using new communication channels until their level of trust and behaviour pattern can be adjusted to adopt it; underestimating leadership requirements leadership is required for successful organisational change. Leadership should be evident in all levels of the organisation but sponsorship of change and other initiatives by executives and management is critical. Many reviews of employee engagement identify gaps in the leadership and management skills required for effective employee engagement. It is imperative that any requirements for development in leadership and management skills are acted upon; failure to sell it indifference or scepticism must be overcome through developing a clear purpose and plan for employee engagement and then devoting the leadership effort and other resources required to embed it in the way the organisation works; and/or failure to ultimately embrace it the principles learned from productive employee engagement can be used across the organisation and should become part of organisational culture, strategy and good management practice. It is important not to abandon parts or all of a seemingly dysfunctional employee engagement program without understanding causes and outcomes. Often when conducting reviews, consultants find that employees lament the loss of events such as team meetings and yet management report they were stopped due to a seeming lack of interest or feedback. 2 of 5

3 Making employee engagement work Employee Engagement Concept Like any project within an organisation employee engagement programs must have their objectives and plans. Like the implementation of other new systems and processes, it is difficult to implement an employee engagement program as an isolated element within the organisation. To help make an employee engagement program a success: understand what the organisation wants from better engagement with employees. Note that this usually requires a clear understanding of organisational objectives and a desired culture and behaviours. To do this an organisation has to have considerable self knowledge and meaningful documentation (for example in strategic plans, business plans, vision, mission, code of ethics, etc); have high level employee engagement objectives that are derived from organisational objectives. For example an organisational objective such as innovation can be strongly supported by employee engagement; have operational level employee engagement objectives. For example, build employee contributed improvement lists for quarterly continuous improvement review processes, or develop mechanism for employees to develop and maintain improved information feedback loops for cross- silo processes; make it clear to employees what the objectives are for employee engagement and what is requested of them. Employees may be hesitant to participate if they are unsure of what management wants (and that their job will not be adversely affected); take every opportunity to link or integrate with other initiatives or existing functions. For example, integrate engagement initiatives with existing team meetings, add additional information to Lean manufacturing improvement meetings, utilise existing Quality systems for possible communication channels; ultimately an employee engagement program should become invisible and become an inherent component of many parts of operations and good management practice; like any aspect of business, successful employee engagement requires skilled management and strong leadership at all levels of the organisation; persist with engagement initiatives whilst providing feedback to employees. Time may be required to build trust and educate all parties on how engagement will work best; and persistence should not be blind. Monitor progress and make changes as required. 3 of 5

4 Critical issues Employee Engagement Concept Employee engagement is a critical aspect of every organisation s improvement effort. Projects directed at making improvements in this area must be carefully planned and managed or face the prospect of building scepticism and resentment. When embedded in operations and management it is more likely to be supported by the appropriate resources and effort that lead to sustainable benefits. Critical issues are: fully understand what the organisation wants from engagement with it s employees; document objectives and plans for implementation of employee engagement initiatives; engaging employees about the direction and strategies of the organisation requires that organisational documents that express direction and strategy (eg vision, mission, code of ethics, strategic plan, etc) are of sufficient quality to be used (or can be used to derive other documents that are) for this purpose. Usable information for employees in this case must be believable, relevant, able to be understood and supported by other company actions. Motherhood statements on their own build scepticism; employees must be given a clear understanding of what engagement/information the organisation desires from them; everyone in the organisation must know what communication pathways exist and what pathways are appropriate for different types of information communication pathways must be as simple and visible as possible; it should be clear what will be done with any information received from employees and any actions they should expect; strong leadership skills and management capabilities are critical to successful employee engagement; wherever possible there should be recognition of employee input and any actions resulting from input should be highlighted; if a culture of employee engagement has not previously existed then implementation may require the persistence and flexibility that any major change can demand. Effective employee engagement requires clear understanding and trust; understand what benefits are being derived from employee engagement and integrate employee engagement principles into organisational objectives, strategy, operations, good management practice and, ultimately, organisational culture; and any organisation can derive benefit from better employee engagement. Significant benefits derived from areas such as innovation and competitive advantage may require changes in strategy, management style, business processes and culture. This may mean significant change but the potential rewards are worth it. Prominence can help organisations improve employee engagement as well as offering health checks, audits and reviews of many aspects of an organisation. 4 of 5

5 Employee Engagement Concept Key consultancy services include developing strategy, governance and business planning, assessing and building corporate capability and managing people and change. Advisory services, coaching and skilled contracting resources can also be provided. The Prominence website provides more detailed information about our consulting services. Prominence s methodology has elements that are carefully designed to provide numerous engagement points with the organisation during a project. This allows for productive participation by the organisation s personnel to build project ownership, allow stakeholders to understand the process and create the optimal state for acceptance of project outcomes. Further information regarding Prominence and other Concept documents can be obtained using the contact details below. Other Prominence documents Prominence consulting services profile Prominence document production investigation profile Change management Targeted surveys and information gathering Document production environment design The paperless office? Business processes: reengineer or improve? Knowledge management Managing processes Client focus Concepts Processes, standards, benchmarks and best practices Organisational measurement Flexible processes Usability Determining the scope of a review Knowledge, performance, innovation and risk Simplicity Challenging times Business process management Considering change Organisational health checks The role of the project sponsor Organisational structure design Building project ownership Building capability through skills transfer Usable business plans The benefits of austerity Communication Leadership, management and culture Contact Us p a PO Box 66 Taigum Q 4018 w e 5 of 5

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