How to create a System of Employee Engagement
By Robin van der Meulen | 15/06/2017
As mentioned in my previous blog post – there are a lot of things you can ‘just do’ to increase employee engagement, but it’s not easy to create a system of engagement. One where you engage employees more and more in an efficient and effective manner.
So why is it so hard?
First and foremost, the problem is that the engagement of an employee is not a physical matter you can change. If you compare a system of engagement with, for example, an IT system, it’s obvious. If an IT system requires a different output or result, you change the program responsible for it, test the change and you’re good to go. When influencing employee engagement, you have no such option. All you can do is to change the environment in order to create the change you need.
So that is what you do. You hold an even better company event, create a fun day in the office or perhaps you improve the work environment with beautiful art. But then what? How do you know if it worked to increase engagement? And to what extend? You will only know if you measure adequately to do such assessment. Most companies conduct one employee engagement survey a year, at best. But by the time those results are in, the effects of one action are mixed up with everything else that happened during the year and you will have no way to assess your employee engagement investment.
To create a system of engagement, you need to be able to conduct experiments, review the results and continuously improve the effectiveness of your investments in employee engagement. You absolutely need a short-cycled employee engagement survey. As soon as you have weekly insight in employee engagement in every team, you will be able to isolate the impact of individual events and changes in the organization. Consequently, you will learn what works, and what doesn’t. What is contributing to engagement, and what’s hurting it.
“If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.”
For many years now, research on employee engagement shows horrible results, like Gallup’s State of the American Workplace February 2017, reporting 70% of employees being not engaged at work. So, I bet you can guess by now how this is possible. Measuring once a year is not functional. It will not help you to get to know your organization or understand your actions any better. You will end up discussing the results endlessly to agree the root causes of the results. Consequently, you are likely to hear what you always heard, do what you always did and then get what you always got.
For comparison, let’s say we’re investing Marketing. In any company that I ever worked for there was someone – if not the whole management team – that wanted to know for every investment how much turnover it brought in. Yet, everyone seems to be ok not knowing what the millions do that are invested in creating a happy and engaged workforce. It puzzles me every time I think about it.
If you are looking for a convincing case. One that shows that a cycle of experimentation and measurement can help you to reach places you couldn’t reach before, I got just the one for you – the Wright brothers. Their competition had more money, more people and a much bigger network. But it was the Wright brothers who, through their process and their passion, made the first manned flight in the history of mankind. Are you able to reach goals you never thought were possible? You bet. The sooner you start measuring the employee engagement on a much more frequent basis, the quicker you’ll learn how to become more effective in engaging employees. And on top of becoming more productive and successful, you will create more rewarding jobs and happy people as businesses grow.