Cathy Brown: The four enablers of employee engagement

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Cathy Brown, Director at Engage for Success, discusses the four factors that are present in high performing organisations with highly engaged employees.

We all get more out of going to work if the organisations we work for have an engaging culture, a philosophy that there is a ‘better way to work’. Research shows that engaging organisations are more productive, have healthier, happier staff, fewer accidents, higher profits and better customer service.

There are four factors that are present in high performing organisations with highly engaged employees:

•They have a clear story about the organisation and strategy – articulated in human terms

•They develop engaging managers, who trust their staff and treat them as individuals

•They role model the organisation’s values in everyday behaviour

•Employees are able to speak out and influence within the organisation
Corporate culture is in the process of a paradigm shift. Command and control, ‘blind obedience’ , bullying and harassment in the work place, these are outmoded styles of management that no longer fit todays ways of working. Societal changes such as the death of deference, increases in knowledge based jobs, use of technology and social media all mean that work no longer works in the way that it used to. As an example, a common cultural norm of the 20th century was that ‘knowledge = power’. Expertise was closely guarded, providing respect, status and power within the organisation. With the advent of Google, Quora, collaborative social media, any of us can start to access that knowledge for ourselves – we no longer automatically respect a boss or an expert simply because of their job title or position.

Many of todays leaders however, gained their leadership experience in the ‘bad old days’ and, especially in times of stress, can default to that outdated management model. A culture that allows this can lead to us feeling stressed, defensive, unappreciated and disengaged. Our performance will drop, as will that of our organisation! We now live longer, healthier lives, which means that we work longer and thus we are extending that outdated model past the end of its life.

We, as employees and as leaders and employers of the future, have a responsibility to set a higher ambition for ourselves and our employers to find a better way to work in order to enable growth for ourselves and our organisations. In the uncertain times we currently find ourselves in, with the opportunities and challenges presented by Brexit for instance, this has never been more important.

However, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in growing an engaging culture is where to start? The world of engagement is sufficiently diverse and fluid that it’s hard to even pin down a definitive definition of the concept. However, the Four Enablers provide a useful lens through which to assess your organisation and culture.

In summary, ask yourself these things:

Does my organisation have a clear story? You should understand where it’s been, where it is now, where it’s going and how you fit into that. Can you tell that story to the people who work for you?

Are the organisations values a reasonable fit with your own? The managers you meet should role model those values authentically and you should be able to see yourself doing the same.

Is there support for managers, to teach them the skills that they need in order to operate in an engaging way, through coaching, focussing and developing their staff?

Are you able to influence decision making in the organisation and trust that your voice will be heard?

If not, what can you do to make things better? And as a final tip, saying ‘thank you’ more often generates a surprising amount of engagement…

Engage for Success exists to help organisations and individuals on the journey of building better places to work. A free to access social movement, we encourage you to come and explore the website, download a case study, connect with people, check out our events and perhaps come and follow us on Twitter at @engage4success.

You can find out more about the Four Enablers of Engagement and Engage for Success at www.engageforsuccess.org

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