Chelmsford City Council EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND WELLBEING STRATEGY. Human Resources

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1 Chelmsford City Council EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND WELLBEING STRATEGY Human Resources 1

2 Table of Contents Introducing CCC engagement and wellbeing strategy... 3 The purpose of our strategy... 3 How Chelmsford City Council defines employee engagement and wellbeing... 3 Links to the corporate plan... 4 Understanding engagement and wellbeing and their benefits... 4 Drivers of wellbeing and engagement... 6 Challenges to wellbeing and engagement... 7 Responsibilities... 7 Management Team... 7 Managers... 8 Human Resources... 9 Employees... 9 Trade Union / Staff Forum Representatives Communication

3 Introducing CCC engagement and wellbeing strategy The purpose of our strategy At Chelmsford City Council, we provide a range of services to meet the broad needs of many customers. We believe that our employees can only deliver the best services for the citizens of Chelmsford when they are happy and enjoy their job and are keen to create an environment where employees feel happy and supported to deliver their best for the Council. This strategy outlines our perception of engagement and its positive impact on employee wellbeing, including its benefits and its implications for the Council s management team, managers, Human Resources and employees. We believe that employee engagement and wellbeing are intrinsically linked and aim to provide all managers at the Council with a framework for interaction with their staff to promote engagement at work which directly impacts on staff wellbeing. As there is no one size fits all approach to staff engagement, this strategy purposefully leaves room for interpretation to allow managers to adapt to suit the needs of their service. The aim is to create the conditions to enable employees to go the extra mile by willingly offering more of their capability and potential. How Chelmsford City Council defines employee engagement and wellbeing While there is no universal definition for staff engagement, it is important to clarify our understanding of the concept. In doing so, we can be specific about what we are aiming to achieve. For the purpose of this strategy, we define our vision of an engaged employee as: Someone who genuinely cares about the future of the organisation and actively ensures they play a positive part. This is demonstrated through their commitment and passion in delivering the best possible outcomes for the Council and it is visible in the additional discretionary effort that comes with this attitude. It is important to remember that staff engagement is not only about satisfaction at work- it is about satisfaction with the organisation and goes beyond motivation. Well-being is about how people feel about themselves thus if you feel good about yourself, you feel more engaged and perform better. We define Wellbeing as: An environment that promotes a state of contentment which allows an employee to flourish and achieve their full potential for the benefit of themselves and their organisation. Overall wellbeing produces positive attitudes, energy, motivation, engagement, innovative thinking, alertness, excitement, happiness and the capacity to work intensively and with great effect. There is interdependency between workplace health, wellbeing and engagement - and the fundamentals of each one of them should not be considered in isolation. By supporting individual wellbeing (both physical and mental) at work we can boost their commitment and encourage them to reflect on their level of engagement. 3

4 Links to the corporate plan By facilitating employee engagement and wellbeing, we are not only able to deliver our services more effectively and efficiently, but also become a role-model in promoting healthier and more active lives. We believe that wellbeing and engagement are the fundamentals of a responsible organisation and as such it is aligned to our core business strategy as part of the six corporate priorities - Promoting healthier and more active lives. Many of our employees live in our community and invariably through improved staff engagement we can support improvements in the health and wellbeing of the community too. Engaged employees are also ambassadors for the authority. Promoting us as an employer of choice they help us to attract and retain talented people and, as a consequence, make realising our corporate plan easier. An engaged and healthy workforce is the most valuable resource we have as an organisation to enable us to deliver our business priorities. Understanding engagement and wellbeing and their benefits The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) identify three dimensions to employee engagement: Intellectual engagement reflecting about your role in the organisation and looking for opportunities to provide a better service Affective engagement feeling positively about doing an excellent job Social engagement actively taking opportunities to discuss work-related improvements with colleagues and a feeling of being present at work both in mind and body A work environment that promotes these behaviours and trigger the achievement of commitment, trust, kinship, motivation and engagement, leads to a culture based on psychological wellbeing and performance in the workplace. The output is the potential for peak performance from the individual and the organisation. Employee engagement and wellbeing work together to predict productivity as follows: Employee Engagement High productivity but high burnout and more likely to leave Least contribution from employees Most productive and happy employees More likely to stay, less committed to organisational goals Employee well-being 4

5 The government-sponsored Engage for Success movement mentions valuable benefits of employee engagement. Companies with high scores on engagement, on average also Score 12% higher on customer service Score 18% higher on productivity. Have a 40% lower turnover rate The majority of engaged employees (59%) also said that their jobs bring out their most creative ideas. Overall, Engage for Success found a strong correlation between employee engagement and high organisational productivity and performance. Evidently, businesses that prioritise their staff wellbeing alongside engagement have competitive advantage and tend to outperform their counterparts where this does not occur. The interdependency between employee wellbeing and engagement should not be underestimated. Notably, the negative behaviour of staff towards each other and/or the disconnection between staff and their managers could impact on employee wellbeing and cause disengagement of the employee from work and the organisation. Building trust and improving communication improves engagement and in turn promote a productive and a healthy work environment. Thus lack of engagement is bad for the economic health of the organisation. Engaged employees take an average of 2.7 days sick a year compared to 6.2 days sick for the disengaged employee 1 which directly costs the UK economy about 14 billion a year. Presenteeism - staying at work when not fully engaged also has a cost as they tend to operate at a sub-optimal level. The Centre for Mental Health calculates that presenteeism based on psychological health problems alone costs the UK economy 15.1 billion a year. It therefore makes good business sense to prioritise employee wellbeing and engagement. Employee wellbeing and engagement should be a reflection of the organisation's broader culture in terms of how it values and invests in its staff. Thus there are multiple business benefits for organisation that successfully engages their employees and put their wellbeing at the core of their business strategy. As the evidence shows, they are clearly worth the investment. 1 A Meta-Analysis by Harter and colleagues (2006) research of 23,910 companies 5

6 Benefits derived by employers when they prioritise the wellbeing of their workforce: Business Benefits The Work Foundation Drivers of wellbeing and engagement Understanding where you fit: At the core of wellbeing and engagement is the understanding of where staff fit into the bigger picture of the organisation. Knowing how their work shapes the organisation is the key to being engaged. The amount of influence and control that a person has in their work helps with their wellbeing and engagement at work. Those with little or no autonomy, control and task discretion tend to be less engaged with their wellbeing adversely affected. It is essential for employees to feel supported at work, where conflict is well managed and proactively addressed. Honest and transparent communication: An engaged employee expects to be communicated to honestly and transparently and that their leaders are sincerely interested in their wellbeing. A culture of trust and respect is established if employees feel they are made aware of what is going on, and why i.e. through Chief Executive Roadshows, Managers Action Conference, Late Opening etc. Communication goes hand in hand with organisational integrity. When the narrative provided fails to match the actions of the leaders/managers employee engagement is likely to be impacted, building frustration and mistrust among staff. It is therefore important for trust to be nurtured, developed and embedded across the board i.e. in all the relationships that is formulated at work e.g. between line manager and their staff, between staff and senior management, HR and the management team, TU and management etc. Trust is therefore a by-product and a necessary pre-requisite for an engaged and a happier workforce. 6

7 Having a voice: Employees want a genuine voice of their own. Knowing where to voice their opinion without fear of repercussions builds confidence and supports overall wellbeing e.g. Staff Forum, Meet the Chief /Directors, Steve, Staff Surveys etc. An effective and empowered employee voice works best in an environment where their views are sought, feel listened to and are able to challenge appropriately. Disregarding feedback from an engaged employee can have tremendous backlash. As with reputation, employee engagement is hard to build and easy to lose. Showing that feedback is valued and taken seriously heavily influences the willingness of staff to engage and helps with their wellbeing. Challenges to wellbeing and engagement The biggest threat to engagement and wellbeing is when employees question its sincerity. Although the goal is improved performance as well as staff satisfaction, this needs to be carefully managed and communicated. Staff engagement is not only a means to an end, but also an end in itself. When measuring employee engagement, job satisfaction can be mistaken for satisfaction with the employer. Engagement is less about how someone is doing their job and more about satisfaction with the organisation as a whole. While good performance can come from loyalty, it can also come from self-interest or personal development however, this is different from staff engagement. When an employee does a good job, but not satisfied with the organisation, we need to identify why that is the case. Managers need to recognise that diverse employees and different generations are engaged by different things. Most engagement efforts rely on the principle that the same factors increase engagement and the same improvement actions have an equal impact on every employee. However, research has proven that attitudes and expectations about the role of work and loyalty with the organisation differ dramatically between generations. The same complexity can be found when trying to influence the engagement of employees who are diverse or that are from different demographic backgrounds. Managers need to take time to understand their workforce and tailor their engagement interventions to suit as one size does not fit all. Most managers assume that sustaining staff engagement in the workplace is HR s responsibility. However, building an engaged workforce should be owned by managers as it directly impacts on their staff wellbeing and their bottom line delivery targets. Responsibilities Management Team The council s management team fully supports the employee engagement and wellbeing strategy as a business imperative because it is about employees - who are core to the delivery of the organisation s priorities. They champion the delivery of the council s corporate plan and outline clearly how each employee fit into the delivery of the plans. Management team demonstrate leadership abilities including being open to feedback as well as providing an overall narrative of where the organisation is going, and why. They understand 7

8 that delivering good engagement is about appreciating what is important to staff socially, morally and ethically and recognise that having sustainable employee wellbeing and engagement in Chelmsford City Council (CCC) is underpinned by positive management behaviours including transformational, authentic and supportive leadership styles. They demonstrate integrity by role modelling the organisation s values and are aware that a mismatch will lead to a reduction in trust. By creating and embedding a culture that fosters staff engagement and wellbeing, management team are the enablers directing staff to accomplish CCC goals in an effective and efficient manner. They therefore recognise the alignment of staff wellbeing and engagement and how that reflects positively on customer experience, improved satisfaction rating, high performance levels, retention, innovation among others. Managers Research has consistently demonstrated that the way and manner in which individuals are managed is a key determinant of workplace wellbeing. Good management leads to good health, engagement and improved performance with the opposite being true of poor management. As the go-to person for a large majority of Council staff, managers have to ensure employees have clear and realistic expectations by setting stretching and well defined objectives. Managers are responsible for guiding staff, managing day to day performance and providing constructive feedback. Managers are therefore largely responsible for their employees perception of how important their job is and how it fits into the wider context of the organisational plans. They greatly influence how the organisation s values and behaviours are perceived by those they manage. Managers represent the link between employees who know how best to improve performance and senior management with the authority to instigate change. Managers should be able to manage difficult situations effectively and nurture a sense of fairness in the workplace. Managers should also be conscious of how their actions impact on employees level of engagement and wellbeing. A disengaged manager could impact negatively on their team s level of engagement and wellbeing and inadvertently affect quality of outputs from the team. There is a significant body of evidence indicating that poor management and lack of leadership skills are associated with low employee wellbeing and an increased risk of work-related stress. Managers need to be aware of potential stressors for their staff and put measures in place to mitigate them. Capable managers are confident in giving praise and recognition to their staff and are able to support their staff to do a good job. They develop and evaluate individuals they manage through honest appraisal process and coach them to perform at their best by demonstrating the following managerial competencies: 8

9 Competency Being open, fair and consistent Handling conflicts and problems Knowledge, clarity and guidance Description Managing with integrity and consistency including managing emotions/personal issues and taking a positive approach in interpersonal interactions Dealing with employee conflicts (including bullying, harassment and abuse) and using appropriate organisational resources i.e. Council s policies and procedures and HR expertise Clear communication, advice and guidance, demonstrates understanding of roles and responsible decision-making Building and sustaining relationships Positive personal interactions with staff involving empathy and consideration Supporting development Supporting and arranging employee career progression and development including talent management and succession planning Human Resources HR act as engagement and wellbeing champions and are responsible for the continued development and review of the Council s engagement and wellbeing strategy and associated corporate activities. Although there might be different service areas with different demands in terms of staff wellbeing and engagement, HR aim is to ensure that the fundamental principles in embedding an employee wellbeing and engagement culture are in place. Human Resources provide support for managers to behave in ways that engender both engagement and wellbeing in the workplace. They do so by ensuring that the organisation behaviours are embedded throughout the employees lifecycle. Due to the diverse nature of the services that we provide at Chelmsford City Council, team sizes and nature of services provided vary considerably. Human Resources factor these needs into account when compiling the strategy and addressing any training gaps. Employees As employees, we all perform at our best when we are feeling good and are happy in ourselves. Employees are at the heart of delivering effective service and achieving continuous improvements at Chelmsford City Council. They interact with other employees, their managers, councillors, customers and other professionals both internally and externally. As a result, their attitude towards co-workers has profound impact on their team s level of engagement and wellbeing. Staff should take it upon themselves to feel responsible for their own actions by being accountable to themselves as well as being accountable for their impact 9

10 on others. Consequently, the expectation is for staff to think before they act and behave professionally at all times in their interactions at work. In particular, employees should consider the five Chelmsford Behaviours, which are: - Communication - Performance - Attitude - Adaptability - Fairness Each of these represents an aspect of how we would ideally like members of staff (including managers) to behave around each other, so that everyone can enjoy their work. Engagement defies a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why it is essential for employees to feel comfortable in providing feedback. Constructively challenging managerial decisions can be important to an engaged employee. Although a manager can do everything to ensure the environment is conducive to open and honest communication, members of staff have a responsibility to present their feedback in a constructive way so that their managers can make the most of it. We realise that we cannot assume what is important to each individual member of staff, which is why it is important for staff to be able to communicate their needs clearly. It is also crucial for staff to take personal responsibility for their wellbeing, taking into consideration the range of options made available for them and deciding what is right for them. Trade Union / Staff Forum Representatives Trade union and staff forum reps have an important role to play in a sustainable employee engagement and wellbeing environment. They keep management team to task and engage in the feedback loop. They represent staff and colleagues views and participate in consultative meetings to ensure that staff views are taken on board - particularly in key decisions affecting staff. Communication There is an appreciation of some underlying problems associated with staff engagement surveys. As it is purely a measurement device, it tends to tell you what is going on but not necessarily the whys. Although engaged staff are more likely to complete such surveys, at the same time the survey could potentially reduce their motivation, as it requires time and effort without being directly relevant to the performance of the Council. Consequently, we want to keep surveys regarding staff engagement to a minimum and promote direct communication and feedback process such as: Meet the Chief Executive or Director Chief Executive Roadshows and Blogs Steve Managers Action Conference 10

11 Director s Blog Staff Forum meetings Late openings etc. For most communication purposes, it is important for managers to have the skills to proactively pick up the atmosphere in their teams when there are concerns and report it back to their senior managers or management team. By embedding open and honest communication culture, we can achieve higher levels of engagement which will reflect positively on staff wellbeing and our service improvements. 11

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