What is employee engagement? How does it work, where can you learn more about it and does it actually matter?
Every week I am contacted by internal communicators who are interested in knowing my thoughts about engagement and looking for information.
So I thought I’d collate everything I’ve published about it to date for you to rummage through. I’m going to point you towards resources and recommendations from people within my network, to enable you to grow your own and benefit from what’s around.
What is employee engagement?
I am a member of the social media group of Engage for Success movement (more on that in a moment) and I use the movement’s definitions:
“Employee engagement is a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being. This is about how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential.” (Tweet this)
There are differences between attitude, behaviour and outcomes in terms of engagement. An employee might feel pride and loyalty (attitude); be a great advocate of their company to clients, or go the extra mile to finish a piece of work (behaviour).
Outcomes may include lower accident rates, higher productivity, fewer conflicts, more innovation, lower numbers leaving and reduced sickness rates.
But all three – attitudes, behaviours and outcomes – are part of the engagement story. There is a virtuous circle when the pre-conditions of engagement are met when these three aspects of engagement trigger and reinforce one another.
Engaged organisations have strong and authentic values, with clear evidence of trust and fairness based on mutual respect, where two way promises and commitments – between employers and staff – are understood, and are fulfilled. (Tweet this)
In 2012 Towers Watson consultancy surveyed 32,000 employees. Its Global Workforce study and found the traditional definition of engagement (the willingness of employees to voluntarily expend extra effort) to be no longer sufficient to fuel the highest levels of performance. The key word? Willing – which according to Towers Watson, does not guarantee able.
Below is a video on what employee engagement is:
What is Engage for Success?
Engage for Success is a movement committed to the idea that there is a better way to work, a better way to enable personal growth, organisational growth and ultimately growth for Britain by releasing more of the capability and potential of people at work.
It aims to grow awareness about the power and potential of employee engagement and provoke people to think and to learn more about it. Above all it wants individuals and organisations to take action, secure in the proof that it works and passionate about its importance.
Tip: See #e4s on Twitter to discover tweets marked up by its community of supporters.
Engage for Success also has The employee engagement global community via Google+
“Engagement isn’t something extra, it’s what you do and the way you do it” (Tweet this)
What are the four drivers of employee engagement?
I think the four drivers of employee engagement identified by Engage for Success are useful for internal communicators to familiarise themselves with:
- Strategic narrative
Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going
- Engaging managers
Engaging managers who focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch them
- Employee voice
Employee voice throughout the organisation, reinforcing and challenging views, between functions and externally. Employees seen as central to the solution
Organisational integrity – values on the wall are reflected in day-to-day behaviours. There is no ‘say – do’ gap. (Tweet this)
Show me the evidence
In 2009 a comprehensive report: Engaging for Success: Enhancing Performance Through Employee Engagement was written by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke (it’s known colloquially in the Comms and HR communities as The MacLeod report) and presented to Government.
It underlined the importance of employee engagement in having a direct benefit on the UK economy. If you have never read it before, do take a look.
How seriously is engagement taken? Well in 2012 there was an open letter to The Times newspaper published by senior leaders from 44 of some of the biggest organisations in the UK. They called for the nation to deliver £26 billion GDP growth by tapping into the potential of unengaged employees.
Those leaders included Marc Bolland, Marks & Spencer; Justin King, Sainsbury’s; Ronan Dunne, O2; and chair Win Bischoff, Lloyds Banking Group.
What information exists for communicators? Engage for Success has published an infographic and toolkit packed full of stats and useful information to help you understand who is doing what, and how engagement works in action.
You can access the toolkit here for free or see it below.
Further reading on my blog:
- How to engage people with disabilities
- Link wellbeing and engagement to boost performance
- Engaging for success in Italy
- How to engage for success
- Milan social media week: Italy gets engaged
- Engaging workplaces for a sustainable future
- The Sunday night blues
- Employee engagement and social media.
Every Monday Engage for Success publishes radio show at 4pm BST. There’s a listen again feature so you can catch up.
What do I read?
I enjoy reading articles by a number of communicators including David Zinger from Canada @davidzinger, and his employee engagement network. I’ve written about that network a number of times, it now has 6000+ members.
- Rich Baker @theintrapreneur blog
- Cathy Brown, @cathyab blog Tip: Cathy tweets three engagement-related stories a day. See #3fromCB
- Jon Weedon, @J0N1 blog
- Jon Ingham’s blog
- Mike Klein’s blog
- People Lab’s blog
Who is doing what in other countries?
In May 2013 I went to Rome alongside David MacLeod to support the creation of ImpresAperta, the Italian equivalent of Engage for Success, and share information from the UK to help Italian communicators think through what is right for their organisations.
Finding other people who are interested in employee engagement
The official Engage for Success Twitter account has a number of lists where you can discover other people who are tweeting about employee engagement:
There are also lots of LinkedIn groups from Engage for Success.
I’m going to end this article by sharing some further resources that you can find on SlideShare. I hope you’ve found this article useful. Don’t forget I keep my Rachel’s Resources page updated regularly and it’s full of information, articles and links to all sorts of info on internal communication, social media and much more.
Thanks as ever for stopping by