Recently we published a supplement looking at employee engagement. We were delighted that the special edition became the most downloaded publication that we’ve produced. Alongside the special edition we also polled our readers to find out whether they believed that engagement of staff has an impact on the success of their organisation. The poll revealed an overwhelming majority of HR Review readers believed this to be true.
Gary Cattermole, Director, The Survey Initiative and a sponsor of the employee engagement special edition, looks at how far employee engagement has come and the trends for the future.
We’ve come a long way since HR departments simply ran staff surveys in-house or via simple online survey software to obtain a set of statistics to see how satisfied their employees were. Thanks to movements such as Engage for Success, there’s been a real focus on employee engagement from the board down in organisations resulting in increased levels of engagement in all sizes of businesses and not-for-profits. There’s also been far greater understanding of what employee engagement actually is. It’s always been a bug bear of mine that people seem to think it’s just about happy employees; it really isn’t and if employee engagement is done well the impact can be very fruitful for an organisation.
I think it’s been really interesting to note that the growth in employee engagement has occurred during a time of recession and economic uncertainty – traditionally a time where management has pulled back on human resources. However, with growing evidence that with strong levels of employee engagement an organisation can benefit from increased productivity, profitability, and company loyalty, it was one resource that no board could turn its back upon as it may just have saved many an organisation through the last economic down turn.
However stats and profitability aside, I think the most compelling reason why the poll results were so strong is that organisations have stopped sitting on the results and have used the stats as a catalyst for change. The staff survey is a process now understood by the man or woman on the factory floor to the Chief Exec in the boardroom. Gone are the days when staff feared that if they said the wrong thing they would be out on their ear. It’s now standard practice for organisations to run a staff survey with a third party to ensure that employees can give feedback anonymously, giving employers a real insight into the thoughts and minds of their staff.
Results for Action
There’s been much talk over recent times about annual staff surveys, gamification, pulse surveys, always on surveys – the list is nearly endless. However I’ve always been an advocate of ‘it doesn’t matter how you get the results, just when you do get the results, act upon them, consult with your staff and talk to them about what you’re going to do, and then tell them how well you’ve done, and what you’re going to do to improve.’ This has now become commonplace in the majority of workplaces. For example: once the staff survey company has fed back these results to the board this data is now shared throughout the company and key areas are bench-marked upon previous year’s performance. Here teams can see how their work and productivity levels have had a direct impact on the company’s overall performance. Employees are now also regularly consulted on their daily tasks, ambitions, ideas etc – so for even a junior member of the team, employee engagement is no longer some business buzz word – it’s about having your voice heard, helping to make a change and feeling really positive about the future.
What is the future of employee engagement?
Employee engagement looks set to have a very good future and offers HR a real chance of getting their message heard at the boardroom table, as they can demonstrate return on investment for their engagement efforts, as long as the survey can be accountable to real economic figures set within the business.
Employee engagement also offers our economy so much more; the UK has always been driven by its entrepreneurial nature and as more employees become engaged, HR should really be thinking of taking the next steps to empower their staff to be more ideas-led and given the chance to ‘make things happen’ in their organisation. As a nation we’ve always thrived on creating something new and standing out from the crowd and HRs should really consider how in their own organisation employees are given the right environment to push the boundaries, think differently and offer something unique for their customers; as I’ve always said ‘it’s not just about happy employees’.
To discover more about staff surveys and employee engagement, visit www.surveyinitiative.co.uk.