Employee Engagement: Initiating for the Uninitiated

stonecuttersI recently read a whitepaper “Powering Your Bottom Line Through Employee Engagement” released by the Executive Development program at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.  You can access the whitepaper here.

We’ve been talking about this for eons (or so it seems) haven’t we?  Is there anything new or never-before-heard?  Probably not.  After all, most HR practitioners (one would hope) and Organizational Leaders understand there are real $$ costs related to employee disengagement.  They also, hopefully, are able to understand that if employees (ahem – especially one’s top performers) are satisfied/engaged there can be benefits to their organization.

The key, as always, is ensuring that HR/Talent Leaders partner with other leaders in their organizations to develop and nurture a culture that supports engagement.  After all, as I’ve mentioned before, HR is not the responsible party when it comes to employee engagement.

And while ‘engagement’ may look different at Company A than it does at Company B there are still some basic concepts that are helpful whether you’re conducting surveys, holding focus groups or just regularly taking the pulse of the organization by hanging out at the water cooler.   The whitepaper author Kimberly Schaufenbuel points out some of the derailers to any employee engagement initiative and I concur 100%:

  • Lack of follow-up after an employee engagement survey: This can lower engagement if results of the survey are not communicated to employees and actions are not taken.
  • Focus on the wrong areas of improvement: The first reaction many HR and talent management professionals may have is to make changes in areas on the survey that score poorly, but that do not actually affect employee engagement. Survey results should be carefully analyzed with a concentration on improving employee engagement.
  • Poor communication: Any initiative will fail, even if employers follow-up, if employees do not know about it. HR and talent management professionals should ensure communication plans are built into all employee engagement initiatives.
  • Failure to take responsibility: All too often, managers cede the responsibility of the employee engagement initiative to HR and talent management professionals. The success of an employee engagement initiative relies on full participation and accountability at all organizational levels.
  • A “one-size-fits-all” approach: Organizations often make the mistake of failing to deal with disengaged workers on a one-on-one basis.

Watch out for these things and I might see revenue growth?  Satisfied customers? Lower absenteeism? Happy peppy employees?

I’ll go for any of those.

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