‘Employee engagement won’t work around here.’ ‘We’re all too busy for that soft stuff.’ ‘I pay people, that should be enough.’ Surprising as it may sound, these types of attitudes are still common. But engagement should not be something you do “on the side,” it should be embedded in all your business activities. We spoke to Cathy Brown, Executive Director at industry-led Engage for Success, about the barriers and the engine of employee engagement.
What are the main obstacles preventing companies from driving employee engagement?
In addition to having the wrong attitude, many more things can get in the way of employee engagement being truly transformational. For instance, organisations often see employee engagement as something that they do to employees rather than it being ‘simply the way we work around here’. Fear of change is another barrier. Moving to a truly engaging culture is hard. People will resist as they resist any sort of change. Furthermore, businesses often devolve the responsibility for engagement to HR, while engagement is the responsibility of everyone in the organisation. HR and communications might well be your subject matter experts, but it stays a business responsibility.
How should companies start with employee engagement?
A great starting point for organisations looking at employee engagement is the Four Enablers of Engagement. These characteristics are present in highly engaged, high performing businesses. Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and no master model for engagement as all organisations vary in their culture and organisational dynamics, the four enablers of engagement have proved to be useful lenses which can help organisations assess the effectiveness of their approaches.
Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, the story of where it’s come from and where it’s going.
Engaging managers who provide focus for their people and give them scope, treat them as individuals and coach them.
There is employee voice throughout the organisations, for reinforcing and challenging views, between functions and externally, employees are seen as central to the solution.
There is organisational integrity – the values on the wall are reflected in day-to-day behaviours. There is no ‘say-do’ gap.
Brown adds: “Trust at all levels of the organisation, strong values and the ability to treat people as human beings rather than human resources are all key elements of an engaging environment.”
Click here for more information on the Four Enablers.