While some of the biggest organisations in the UK have been doing this for some time – and generally doing it well – it’s a completely new area for others. And there’s a danger that many will simply pay lip service to it, with the view that appointing a non-executive director with workforce engagement responsibility will tick the box.
Such a view – in the absence of a strategy to build wellbeing, trust and engagement – could be hugely detrimental in a ‘normal’ environment, never mind against the backdrop of the current economic crisis.
Here, we set out some useful pointers to getting started.
The first step towards better employee engagement is to get to know your people. But you cannot achieve that simply with a once-a-year employee satisfaction survey.
To create a sustainable culture of listening, learning, and doing, you need to be regularly in contact with your workforce – which is why 90% of UK CEOs now prioritise workforce listening programmes, according to figures from PwC’s CEO Panel Survey (2020).
Under normal circumstances, three feedback cycles a year is probably sufficient, according to PwC. But these are not normal circumstances. COVID-19 is taking a toll on the nation’s mental health, and many businesses are therefore conducting weekly check-ins in an attempt to nip any potential issues in the bud.
Other tips for tuning into the employee voice include:
- utilise various communication mediums, from surveys to focus groups, appraisals and more informal means
- be honest about any issues and communicate clearly about how you plan to fix them
- keep employees abreast of organisational changes, but avoid bombarding them with executive statements.
When it comes to employee engagement, one size definitely does not fit all. The key is to gather all those employee insights and use them to better tailor everything from board-level decisions to department level policies, practices and initiatives.
Engagement is integral to every aspect of business – from management practices and the actual work environment to roles, responsibilities and career development.
Employee wellbeing also represents part of the engagement jigsaw and is arguably the foundation for everything else. Because, let’s face it, if you haven’t got your health and happiness what have you got?
So, perhaps this represents a good place to start on the engagement journey; gain the employee insights you need to better design benefit programmes and supporting communications, with a view to improving usage and value.
To achieve this, you need to understand what makes your people tick outside the workplace too. Then overlay that with current benefit usage to assess what’s working, what isn’t, and what should be.
*This article was written for, and features in REBA, December 2020.