I was taking in a keynote at an HR conference last year and I was so motivated and excited by messages that were exactly aligned with my beliefs on employee engagement (I do work for an engagement company after all so that’s a relief).
Statements such as, “Put employees first” and “Bring humanity back to the workplace” were being thrown out. I was eating it all up. The speakers were very senior and well-respected global thought leaders – it is safe to say I was loving every minute.
I floated out of the keynote sessions to the breakout tracks, excited to hear stories from real organisations who were on this employee journey. Then it hit me, in the day to day world, the discussions are drastically different: “We need to get off spreadsheets and onto the cloud … Our yearly performance management transformation … Successful implementation of our yearly engagement measurement system...”
Putting employees first wasn’t even part of the conversation! I frantically scanned every single break-out track title and NOT ONE had the word “Employee” or “Engagement” in the title. What is causing this disparity?
Having had many insightful employee engagement conversations with senior HR leaders in Europe and the UK this past year, I’ve learned that we know what we need to do and why. After all, it is no secret that highly engaged workplaces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. This Gallup study proved that companies with highly engaged workforces are more profitable, more productive and produce higher sales. Business leaders are not satisfied with the old methods, so why aren’t we there when it comes to employee engagement? Why are we struggling to make progress?
Are we stuck? Stuck completing yearly reviews, stuck rewarding the top 10% of our employees and missing the opportunity to inspire the middle majority, and stuck on spreadsheets. We all want to do things differently but perhaps we aren’t exactly sure how to get there. And even when we do know how to get there, the conversation must shift so drastically from what we’ve been doing for decades that we aren’t sure how to tackle that level of change. The employee landscape has radically changed, so why are we still utilising old tools and expecting new outcomes?
We need to ask ourselves, are we recognising daily the amazing efforts across our entire employee population? Do our employees feel connected to our vision, mission and values? Are we listening to their feedback in real-time and most importantly, are we responding? Are we empowering our employees to take their engagement into their own hands? The answers to these questions cannot be a gut check but rather must be measurable and aligned directly to business outcomes. After all, we know the customer experience is directly determined by the employee experience.
With employee engagement and productivity lower in Britain than global averages, we have a real opportunity to change the dreaded “productivity in Britain” conversation with some fundamental shifts:
Empower employees by giving them an avenue to provide feedback in real-time. Engagement is fluid and how we feel about work and our own success changes weekly, daily, even hourly. So why are we still measuring employee engagement as if it is static? Let’s try a new tactic and make employees part of the solution – in real-time, not quarterly or yearly.
2. Empower Leaders to Take Action
Pulse surveys allow us to collect a mountain of insightful data but unless we take action it’s just another survey that didn’t provide change, only creating more frustration. When we measure in real-time we must empower managers to take action in achievable bite sized chunks. If we exercise once a year we know that doesn’t create change. The same goes for employee listening. When we measure in a fluid manner we need to empower our managers with the tools they need to join the conversation immediately.
This is the secret sauce. Let’s take those values off the wall and embed them in the everyday fabric of the employee experience. Amazing things happen within our organisations every single day. It’s time to highlight those actions in neon lights for everyone to see with peer to peer, visible, meaningful and frequent recognition. We know, what gets recognised gets repeated!
A culture of recognition and real-time action are game changers that will allow us to truly put employees first. Will you change the conversation in 2018? We are happy to say we did. You will now find Achievers under the renamed breakout track with “Engagement” in the title. We are proud to say we are no longer slotted under just “Rewards”. We are changing the conversation; will you join us?
To learn more, download our eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.
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