I was recently asked to speak about employee engagement. It’s a big topic at the moment that many organisations have concerns over. Companies realise that productivity is as much about engagement as technology and so having an engaged workforce is essential on many levels.
The more engaged the staff, the happier the customer and ultimately the more successful the business.
However like many buzzwords engagement is frequently used but rarely properly listened to.
A lot of companies have replaced their annual survey and called it an ‘engagement survey.’ In fact many areas have ‘engagement’ crowbarred into their titles. The result is a hodgepodge of questions that give inflated engagement scores. To really ensure that engagement is driving a company it needs to start at the top. Rewards and perks alone do not retain people. They are often no more than sticking plaster on a broken leg. They will never cure an ineffective boss, an enterprising culture or lack of development opportunities.
Surveys show that on a good day 35% of the workforce are engaged. That means that 65% are disengaged. That’s a lot of scope for improvement.
Turning around an oil tanker is never a quick activity and changing a long ingrained culture is not something that can be fixed with a management weekend away.
So how can you improve engagement and therefore create happier customers?
Simply deploying a formal engagement programme will not in itself lead to more engaged staff and happier customers. In fact companies who are looking to gain an advantage over their competitors are best to link their employee engagement needs to performance. This can include everything from positive customer outcomes to sick days taken. When measured over time in a consistent way across all departments this can show how engagement has started to make a tangible different across the organisation – achieving real results in performance.
Could you create engagement champions?
Employee engagement champions are best found as volunteers from different departments and different levels of business. They help spot and spread the news about engagement in practice that is making a difference. By communicating the positive news about engagement initiatives within their area of the company they show the best practice in action and encourage within their division (and elsewhere) best practice.
Engagement champions can also connect employees to the broader strategic objectives of the business. This helps them to understand how their actions can improve the overall success of the business. It is all about throwing a spotlight on how employees work and highlighting what’s right to a wider audience so that they don’t feel their good work doesn’t make any difference.
How can you inspire employees to better customer interaction?
It’s a good idea for companies to not only share positive feedback about positive customer interactions with an employee and the employee’s line manager, but also with the entire organisation. This helps the employee who is recognised but also the other employees in the company. As children we mainly learn by observing and copying. As employees we mainly learn about what is expected of us by observing people around us. By being able to see all the different ways in which our colleagues achieve praise for positive interactions with their customers it is a big help in deciding how we can improve our performance.
How can you get the right reward balance?
It is important that staff are rewarded for the right things. Being rewarded for volumes of positive responses is one thing. But in fact this might just be part of the job for many staff. It is also an idea to measure the above and beyond help that staff give to customers. The extra help that involves care and thought are often what will make you stand out from the competition. Having the exceptional areas highlighted will encourage others to follow suit.
So to summarise it’s important to take employee engagement seriously as it could well be your business’s main competitive advantage. Introducing programmes that monitor, measure and encourage spreading the word about best practice will help to establish a new culture and motivate staff to take service to a new level.
About the author:
JANE PETCHER – Development Leader
Jane is a qualified coach, an accredited facilitator and a member of the British Psychological Society with over 15 years’ experience in learning and people development across a diverse section of industries.
You can contact Jane via email directly – firstname.lastname@example.org