Why “Engagement” should be top of mind

How often do you hear the term “people are our most important asset” and how do you feel when you hear it? Often the term is misused by business leaders as they communicate to the market or to employees. Those that truly believe the term tend to build businesses that grow were people are engaged and committed because they understand the purpose of the business. Engaged employees stay and when they stay you can start to see them as an asset.

When you hire people, you train them to do the job when they start. Most employees want to progress in a business, so you retrain them and they gain more knowledge. They become competent and trusted knowledge workers, a term coined by Peter Drucker in 1959. At a point they may leave and when they do, they walk away with a vast amount of knowledge about customers, products, processes, plans etc. Often it’s when they leave that you realise how much the business has invested in them and how much you now need to reinvest in a replacement or a new hire.

All business owners and CEO should consider implementing a process to measure employee engagement as well as the most common people measure – employee loss rate. Engagement can be easily measured through surveys best undertaken by an external organisation to obtain a benchmark against other organisations. Businesses that have engagement below 60% on a standard set of broad questions have significant issues. Between 60 and 70% there are issues that can be addressed to improve the business. Above 75% there is high engagement and if you exceed 80% you are doing exceptionally well and are likely to be in the top 5 to 10% of businesses using engagement surveys. Surveys typically measure themes that assess:

Business engagement/alignment

  • Alignment to business
  • Employee benefits
  • Connection to customer
  • Improving the business
  • Leadership
  • Motivation

Personal engagement/alignment

  • Accountability of self and team
  • Communication across business
  • Culture
  • Opportunity to develop and learn
  • Team work
  • Care and wellbeing

The great thing about an engagement survey is that it provides a tangible measure of something that can be difficult to measure. Good surveys provide a total score and allow you to look as sub-scores for various teams in the business, or time in business, or gender, etc. They also provide direct comments from employees on what could be improved and what you currently do well. This information is most valuable, especially when it is shared across the whole workforce in an open manner and then used to make real improvements in the business. Engagement surveys are very valuable for any manager who wants to better understand their people and their attitude to the business, its leaders and how connected they really are.

Always remember it’s only when you know what people really think, can you act on the feedback to build a better business.

Start developing your people

John

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