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Our world is rapidly evolving – economically, technologically, socially and demographically.

People are working harder, longer and in different ways. New generations have different expectations of their careers and their employers than their parents did. As a result, employers must also rapidly evolve, finding new and more relevant ways to engage, inspire and motivate up to four different generations of staff within one workplace (the Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Edge). These pressures are unlikely to ease soon and as a result, engagement is challenging.

As employee engagement rises on the CEO’s list of priorities, we have developed a rigorous methodology, the Science of Ingagement, which helps organisations better understand their people and what engages them. By improving their understanding of what drives engagement, organisations can be more effective in increasing it. This matters. Engaged employees tend to be more aligned around common objectives, more productive, more likely to be ambassadors and promoters of their employers’ brands, and more likely to have long tenures.

Our research shows that just 35% of those UK employees surveyed feel valued by their employers and, very worryingly, 39% would change jobs tomorrow if they could. That’s 2,000 people if you employ 5,000.

For many, navigating around ever-evolving changes in the workplace can be a challenging prospect and unfortunately there is no universal solution. As a consultancy, one notable shift we have seen is that clients are now talking more around ‘what is driving our employees’, rather than how. Of course the how is important but you’re only going to drive engagement if you understand what is driving them in the first place.  With this understanding and insight, comes the ability to then plan and develop a strategy which really works.

Our Science of Ingagement methodology enables organisations to better understand what elements need to be in place to encourage an engaged and cohesive workforce. In particular, how the basic principles of engagement drawn from neuroscience, psychology and anthropology can be applied to employee engagement.

By drawing on these three fields, we found it’s possible to build a picture of the basic principles of engagement are in each field. The result of this was a consensual viewpoint on the fundamental drivers of human engagement, or as we talk about them, the 19 Elements of Engagement.

The Five Principles of Employee Engagement

Whilst there are many variances across sector, function and demographics, there are five fundamental actions that are relevant to all employers if they are to more deeply engage employees:

  1. Create a climate of Shared Values. Currently, the management tier is not creating a culture of empathy and shared values amongst the broader workforce. It must be empowered and encouraged to do so.
  2. Build singularity of Purpose and Meaning. This is a lesson we can learn from engineers and scientists. Our research shows that those in more technical roles are more engaged than most; largely due to the sense of meaning they get from their jobs, so employers should seek to help employees find this meaning whatever their role.
  3. Nurture a more creative working environment. Our research shows that ‘creatives’ are the most engaged function, mainly due to the way they are empowered to Escape and innovate. Employers should think and act differently once in a while − introducing environments and policies that allow people to be more creative at work.
  4. Give conscience substance. For the most highly engaged employees, the two most critical Elements are Integrity and Respect. Employers should work hard to demonstrate and encourage sound ethics at all times, through building Corporate Responsibility programmes around employee passions but also by demonstrating conscience and sound ethics through every action.
  5. Educate and inspire employees in ways that enhance their lives as well as their careers. Employee engagement is built on the recognition that people need to feel that they are progressing in work and life. Thus, employee engagement should embrace not only workplace skills development, but also inspirational training that helps people progress as individuals, not just as workers.

By embracing these five principles, our Science of Ingagement research suggests that any employer can start to deepen engagement levels amongst employees. This can result in the holy grail for employers – a productive and motivated workforce, engaged with the brand and behind the leadership, which will ultimately result in increased levels of productivity and most importantly, a positive impact on the bottom line.

The findings are taken from Weber Shandwick’s Science of Ingagement research. The methodology was put into field with 1,200, 18-64 year old, full-time employees working in organisations of more than 500 people. To download a copy of the report, please visit http://webershandwick.co.uk/science-engaging-employees/.

Lisa Pantelli, Head of Employee Engagement & Change Management, Weber Shandwick