Ask any worker around the world what makes them happy in their job and they always say the same things. While the relative importance and order varies, the key issues are always :
- Is my job important ?
- Do I know what really matters in the work I do every day ?
- Can I build a career with this organisation ?
- Do I get regular feedback ?
- How well do I get along/fit in with everyone at work ?
- Do I trust my organisation brand and what it stands for ?
- Do I know what's going on in my organisation ?
At first glance these seem to be the age old questions of Life, The Universe and Everything (Douglas Adams, RIP). Today, it is possible to improve all of the answers to these questions through a combination of Human Resources initiatives.Traditional Approaches
Traditional approaches have included leadership development, learning and development, a weekend away with the CEO, incentives such as gym membership, employee surveys and so on. Unfortunately these are all short term approaches. The problem being that after the activity is finished, there is usually very little monitoring and continued improvement in these initiatives. Some initiatives work well for sales teams but not for office workers and vice versa. Everyone feels good for a while or learns something new and worthwhile but the effect wears off in the rush of day to day activity, firefighting and deadlines.Especially for line managers, who are the single greatest influence on whether workers are engaged or disengaged.New Employee Engagement Approaches
The latest thinking holds that engagement starts from the top of the organisation. We have heard that engagement in at least one organisation has jumped 20% in a short time frame by adopting only some of these approaches :
Maintaining a Good Relationship With the Manager
- The organisation leaders need to be clear on what they are trying to achieve before they communicate this to the organisation. If the Level 1 Strategy (Organisation Level) is not well defined a Strategy Workshop is required where the Executive Management define and refine a clear strategy.
- The Strategy needs to be converted into a Strategy Map. This Map is a pictorial representation of the Strategy showing dependencies and relationships of the major parts of the Strategy. The majority of people understand a picture far better and have much more information than from a word-heavy strategic plan written in finance-speak. So buy-in improves.
- Define the values and behaviors of the organisation and convert them into measures and weighting for employee evaluations.
- Conduct Strategy Mapping in every major business unit. It’s the line managers who make things happen.
- Ensure performance and talent management systems are automated. Fix what's reported as broken and tap into critically important and talented workers.
- Link remuneration and rewards directly to objective high performance outcomes.
- Ensure every manager sets objectives from the department strategy map to properly align every single worker.
- Make every Manager Accountable for reviewing progress once a month. If your Performance Management system is capable of delivering a quick touch-base progress review each month, this becomes easy. Managers sit down with employees for 10-15 minutes each month and do a quick update. In delivering these quick touch-base or One on One Meetings and ensuring they are happening.
- Career and succession planning must be merit based. Identify career aspirations match, qualifications, historical performance rating, potential rating, competencies match/rating, mobility, age based retirement
This is a factor that is not as easily achieved by any single initiative except that improvements will have been made through:
- Clarifying purpose – managers will have to interact with staff in the Strategy Mapping phase
- Setting Objectives – managers will have to spend time with their staff while setting objectives. They can no longer avoid staff contact.
- One on One Meetings – Managers will be required to conduct 10-15 minute touch-base meetings. Progress and Status of Objectives will need to be updated. Again, we are improving relationships between employees and managers by ensuring there is adequate ongoing communication.
Almost all the above strategies force the line manager to talk to her staff and this almost always makes staff happier and engaged. If the process is automated, bad managers are very easy to identify through simplified graphical reporting.
High engagement really means helping your managers engage their staff. The HR department can't engage every single worker but they have the greatest influence over facilitating processes and systems which will.