A recent survey* has shown that, whilst the emphasis on employee engagement is improving, nearly a quarter of respondents said they were not focusing on it. Of these respondents, the overriding theme for not doing so was lack of stakeholder buy-in, whilst the top reason was budget constraints.
These may well be smaller organisations who are compact enough to engage with their people at a more personal level and who feel it’s not a key priority right now. But, whatever their size, they should be aware that getting into the mindset that engagement is not a priority may stifle progression, especially where they have ambitious growth plans for their organisation.
According to Gallup research**, a fully engaged workforce has on average 22% higher profitability, 21% higher productivity and 10% higher customer engagement.
Clearly, there is a compelling case for an organisation to focus on engagement initiatives with its potential to have such a positive impact on higher performance. More importantly, it doesn’t have to be heavily curtailed by budget constraints.
Communication is king.
Having an effective internal communications strategy and using a few simple tools can help create two-way dialogue and help foster a more positive and engaging environment.
Get stakeholder buy-in and secure a budget
1) Getting a true picture and understanding of your employee landscape is essential to create the foundations for strategic internal communications and highlight key challenges.
The annual employee engagement survey is certainly not dead but increasingly companies are opting for smaller, more regular surveys to get an on-going temperature check of the organisation. This allows for changes to be considered and acted upon more efficiently, which in turn helps people feel like their voice is being heard. Annual surveys can be time-consuming and also expensive as you often need to employ an agency to send out the survey and analyse the results. Smaller surveys can easily be carried out in-house using significantly cheaper online survey tools, which still allow respondents anonymity.
2) Back up your activity with stats
Engagement initiatives are more often owned by HR teams, who have plenty of data at their fingertips to put some costs on engagement. These include retention (asking why people leave), sickness or stress absence and other productivity measures. The Gallup research cited an average of up to 65% lower staff turnover and 37% lower absenteeism for an engaged organisation.
If teams can demonstrate the real cost of losing talented people and sick days etc, it can help to develop the conversation with any dissenters of internal comms. In addition, measuring your comms activity to justify impact is crucial.
3) Create two-way dialogue – cascading information alone is just not enough
Many companies now have some form of enterprise social network that can be developed to open conversations and empower people to give feedback, views and discuss issues amongst themselves. It can give valuable insight into how people are feeling and any highlight key issues that might need to be addressed.
If getting buy-in to the value of engagement (and securing budget for it) from senior leaders is a challenge, the reasons for the lack of focus will be many and varied, but a key reason may be that they are just too time poor to see it as a priority. Providing clear and compelling reasons for investing in people and offering to take ownership of its development may help to convince them of its value.
These are just a few simple things to consider but help give a flavour of what’s possible. To explore more options and an overall strategy for engagement comms, feel free to contact a member of our team at EXIMIA. We can help with communications consultancy, copywriting, proofing, design and delivery of campaigns. Our consultants have first-hand experience of the working mechanics of large organisations so understand common challenges and best practice. Coupled with our in-house design and development team, this makes us an efficient and cost-effective option for long-term or ad hoc support.
* ‘The State of Employee Engagement: Preparing businesses for transformational change’. smith & henderson & HR Zone, in association with Engage & Grow (June 2018). ** 1 Mann, A. & Darby, R. ‘Should Managers Focus on Performance or Engagement?’ Gallup (2014).