Every two weeks we bring you opinion, news and research on Employee Engagement, Leadership and Organisational Performance, along with some thoughts on practical workplace applications.
Editorial: Is it Time to Stop Running the Annual Engagement Survey?
A while ago I wrote an article about the need for managers to stop ‘doing engagement’ and instead ‘be engagers.’ In very brief summary, my argument was that ‘doing engagement’ focuses managers on the activity, not the outcome; and one thing we can be sure of – employees can tell the difference.
Annual engagement surveys are a staple diet of most large organisations and many SMEs ones too. They are seen as providing a valuable benchmark against which to measure progress, which helps in making the business case in the boardroom for engagement. And it is now widely accepted that ‘Employee Voice’ being heard is a vital enabler of engagement.
There is clear evidence that employee voice – the sense that “My voice is being heard and listened to” – is very important to employees; but whilst employees want their voice to be heard, on the whole they are not clamouring with excitement at the prospect of the annual survey. Indeed, the engagement survey may itself be a source of disengagement (especially when it is noticed by employees that no action is taken as a result).
A key question arises from this: who is the engagement survey for?
Is it for the benefit of the workforce, or for the benefit of those responsible for raising engagement levels in a disengaged workforce? If it the latter, then the risk I wrote about previously rears its ugly head: a focus on activity, not outcomes. If it is for the former, one must ask, “Is this the most effective means of listening to the employee voice?”
Many organisations are now capitalising on new technology to take snapshots of current engagement using ‘pulse’ surveys, and getting feedback on particular ideas using ‘polls’ – both of which can be done quickly and with minimal effort by employees. These are powerful tools that help organisations move towards the goal of continuous conversation and action – not only at an organisational level but also at a team or departmental level.
If business is serious about employee voice (and it must be) then line managers at every level of seniority must be trained and enabled to listen – really listen – to their teams, day in, day out. Line managers are the pivot point for all communication, both top-down and bottom-up; if they could really listen, the potential for raising engagement – which will be in evidence through raised performance and productivity – is huge.
So what is the future for the annual survey? Well, if it is conducted in isolation and nothing is done as a result, then it should already be consigned to the scrap heap. In any event, if every manager were listening as they should (both one-to-one and supported by pulse surveys and polls) the need for such a measure would surely be redundant.
Steve Short – Emenex
Blog: Engagement Lessons From Transformational Leaders
For regular readers of our blog you will know that the underlying theme of our writing is the engagement of employees and how tapping into their discretionary contribution impacts organisational performance; therefore, I was delighted to read, in a recent HBR article entitled “What the Best Transformational Leaders Do,” by Scott Anthony and Evan Schwartz, that many of those global organisations that have been most successful at business transformation in the last 10 years attribute their success to the engagement of their people. Read more.
Alistair Aitchison – Emenex
What Employee Engagement Actually Means
Employee engagement, we’re told, has nothing to do with being happy, though it may encourage happiness. So if you’re searching for a contemporary explanation of exactly what employee engagement means, then visit this from Engage for Success.
Shaping Public Debate on Work
Work plays a fundamental role in our success and prosperity as individuals, in our organisations and collectively as a society. For the CIPD, this is a theme that goes beyond any single event, but the UK General Election is an opportunity for them to underline their views on what we need the next and future governments to help address. That is they they are launching their Manifesto for Work.
It sets out proposals which will improve corporate governance, the quality of people management, investment in and better use of skills, and ultimately how we can create a future of work that will enable people to return the best value to themselves, their organisations and society as a whole.
See the CIPD’s Chief Executive, Peter Cheese, present his video introduction.
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