While smaller organizations can show more flexibility and creativity in engaging and retaining their employees, larger organizations are faced with a number of extra challenges that require a different approach to employee engagement.
A notable difference between employees in smaller organizations and those in larger ones is the feeling of being just another wheel in a machine. Being valued as a talent resource and an unique individual is a key engagement driver in any organization, it’s just harder to ensure it in larger companies where there are hundreds of people, processes and projects.
But how do you know how your employees are feeling? After all, there simply isn’t enough time and energy in a day to get loads of work done, manage your team, learn the state of mind of each individual on that team, and also follow-up with concrete actions to improve the way they feel about their work, their peers and the workplace.
To be able to do all that, you need a process in place. One that can help you segment your organization, collect data with the desired frequency, interpret that data and plan the necessary follow-up actions. Such a process requires transparency across the entire organization and a commitment to building a great place to work, where people can speak their mind, share their needs and goals, and be assisted in accomplishing them, making the company itself more productive and reducing turnover.
1. Segmenting your organization
There are several stakeholders you need to consider when it comes to engagement – management, HR and employees. Aside from engaging employees, you need to make sure that team managers, middle management and even top management members are engaged to start with, so that they can be actively involved in engaging other employees.
Your HR team also needs to work with a purpose and be driven by strong engagement in order to fulfill the overall HR and engagement strategy.
For any large organization, segmentation provides insights into how and when engagement develops. Having the capacity to get an overview of each geographical region or department is just the top of the iceberg. Breakdowns on teams, projects, internal initiatives can also show how the dynamic of engagement takes place at granular level and analyzing the data can thus take into account external factors from culture, social economic events as well as internal factors such as local management, benefits or policies
Ask for feedback from various levels of the organization to maintain transparency and get an overview of engagement across your entire organization. Communicate how those suggestions influence decisions, and explain how and why the final decisions are made.
2. Collecting data to improve engagement
Today’s employees are driven by a pursuit of meaning in the workplace, a predilection for digital solutions, as well as a desire to make the most out of their time and be productive. Employees have reached a level of digital savviness where they expect the same capabilities at work as they do when booking a vacation or setting up a new bank account online. The Next Generation worker is bringing their own device to the workplace, not only to keep in touch with family and friends, but to make their work day more productive.
In order to engage these employees and create a truly digital workplace for them, companies should invest in:
- enabling new ways of communicating at work
- enhancing agility and collaboration
- improving knowledge and learning
- improving productivity
Similar to social tools, that have been shown to be some of the most powerful enablers of employee engagement over the last few years, pulse-like surveys are a smart technological approach to measuring employee engagement levels and capturing essential data about what drives employees to perform better, to become better and to communicate better. This type of survey is usually cloud-based, enabling employees to enjoy a high degree of mobility and flexibility when it comes to devices and software usage.
The frequency with which you collect this type of information depends very much on the dynamic of your organization. You can have a daily pulse or a weekly round-up, or even both, and see which one performs best in terms of employee adoption.
Many company leaders have understood that they need to reduce the time spend on administrative costs as well as the costs of HR service delivery, and they have adopted accessible, cloud-based survey solutions to help improve employee engagement. HR automation adoption is still ongoing but it’s picking up speed, as big data proves invaluable to HR managers.
3. Use HR Partners to make engagement happen
Your own HR department is a key resource in interpreting and following up with actionable steps on the data you’ve collected. Most of the time we think of HR as the function that takes care of employee concerns, needs and benefits, a function that welcomes new employees and delivers trainings. However, HR has a much more strategic function within a company and should be involved in the strategic planning process to ensure its profitability. Being inherently cross-functional, the HR function has a high degree of authority in terms of managing the employees who will ultimately execute that strategy.
External partners are also a great choice to analyze and monitor your employee engagement efforts. Outside counsel can shed new light on engagement drivers, team dynamics, efficiency of processes and workplace relationships, that you can use to build an engagement strategy on.
As Jon Mell of IBM pointed out at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris:
Employee engagement drives customer satisfaction which drives profits;
There are analytics now behind employee engagement which are key to the whole process, from interview questions to the proactive retention of the best employees;
HR now has a seat at the table and has the power.
The end goal is for employees to have a positive mindset when thinking about their job, along with a sense of pride and ownership that drives them to put extra effort into their work, without even realizing it. To nurture and encourage this way of thinking, large organizations need to find a way to connect with employees at a personal level and find out what drives them and how the organization can support them best.
The technology is available and has already started to show promising results in measuring employee engagement and delivering key insights. The next frontier is using this data to follow-up with actionable strategies that support and fuel these engagement drivers, and also drive company performance.
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