Employee Engagement: Views from the Board

Welcome the first in our series of blogs written by CEO’s, Board members and Senior Directors.  The aim is to give a feel on the current thinking, views and perceptions of employee engagement from a senior level perspective.

Our first contributor is Jacqueline Mitchell, former Human Resources and Organisational Development Director of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Can you hold your nerve?

If you are investing in improving employee engagement then you have started on, or at least raised expectations of, a journey of culture change.  The thing is how does this sit with typical business leaders’ expectations?

In today’s world, business leaders are always looking for change to happen swiftly.  Why wait for tomorrow, when it needs to happen today?  Being agile and fast paced are the common buzz words we hear all the time; so this should apply to developing a more engaged culture where trust and the motivation to excel go hand in hand…shouldn’t it?

Well, wouldn’t that would be great! But we’re not dealing necessarily with business processes; we’re dealing with hearts and minds which take much longer to convert.  So here are 5 tips to keep your leadership team motivated to hold their nerve, and not be tempted to move on to the next idea when they don’t see positive change happen swiftly enough:

  • Link your decision to build higher levels of engagement to business critical changes.  E.g. If you are developing new markets, driving efficiency to compete successfully, then link an engaged workforce’s contribution to achieving that goal more easily,
  • Know your numbers.  What is your turnover trend, the performance levels, absence rates and costs, employee utilisation levels, new employee training and hiring costs?  Link these to business metrics such as turnover, ROI, profit/loss, and show where increased engagement can directly improve the business performance,
  • Identify quickly actions from your initial survey or measure of the state of the land. Don’t overwhelm with plans for large scale, costly, resource sapping activity instead be selective and ruthless with what can be done with the resources and appetite for change.  Identify some quick wins, but then identify just one or two areas of longer term change. But make progress on both straightaway,
  • Don’t wait for your next formal benchmark survey to evidence signs of positive change.  Anything – informal customer feedback, overhearing a conversation at the coffee machine, someone offering to do something they wouldn’t normally, can all point to your actions working.  Capitalise on this.
  • Report, report, report! It’s no good being in the dark.  Ensure your leadership team know what is happening and the positive results coming through.  Link positive changes back to the engagement activity, share changes to your metrics/business KPI’s. Get your CEO to acknowledge and celebrate these with your staff, however simply.  By seeing that good things are happening, will subtly influence the Leadership team’s sense of personal wellbeing and help ensure that their staying power to see it through can be that much stronger.

About Jacqueline

At the heart of Jacqueline’s business ethos is her clear understanding of the importance for companies in focusing on their commercial strengths.

Her passionate belief is that organisations are more successful when they have the right practices in place to enable their staff to achieve their best, yet are also ready to protect their business when things go wrong.

Jacqueline is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, with over 25 years’ experience gained across commercial, not for profit and public sector organisations. This rich professional experience has enabled her to develop a deep knowledge of an unusually broad range of people management topics and issues.

Find out more about GrantaHR here: http://www.grantahr.com/