Employee engagement is the fuel of an organisation.
There are many good examples of companies that have achieved great results when it comes to an engaged culture.
According to Mandy Flint and Elisabet Vinberg Hearn’s in their new book Leading Teams – 10 Challenges: 10 Solutions, companies such as Google and Virgin are prime examples of extraordinary employee engagement reaping real benefits.
We live in a changing world where new challenges continuously require new thinking and actions. People are not all alike, so employee engagement also requires you to see your employees, really see them and get what makes them tick – and then to help them make themselves tick. Because employee engagement is not just down to the leader or company – each person is responsible for his/her own level of engagement.
Most companies that do it well have something in common – they understand that it’s a driver of success and that it therefore needs to be a key business strategy, which is everyone’s responsibility (not just HR’s or the leaders’ responsibility). This strategy works best when it translates into behaviours and culture.
They also know that they have to look after their employees so they can look after the customers.
Find out how these, and other leading companies, are getting the most out of their employees.
Google – TRANSPARENCY
Google have been very intentional about creating the culture they want. One aspect of that culture is their focus on transparency. The idea is to break down barriers, encourage creativity and collaboration. And employees, as a result, are feeling empowered by that transparency.
Culture comes down to behavioural habits and Google, by creating a culture of transparency and freedom, creates habits of creativity.
Formalising that people spend 20% of their time doing something outside their normal work function, facilitates a creative culture. Ultimately culture is about “how things get done” and should not be left to chance, it’s too powerful a force not to take control over – and Google has done this well.
Employees want to be a part of something where there are no hidden agendas and they are experiencing an honest perspective. Informed employees feel valued and engagement typically follows.
American Express – FOCUS ON BEHAVIOURS
In a world where results are everything, regardless of how they achieved them, American Express was different even 25 years ago. The company has for a long time had equal weighting between the fact that people achieve their goals and how they do it. It simply should not be possible to achieve top results, ratings, pay and potential bonus without considering the impact of your behaviours.
Behaviours are how we conduct ourselves, act and react, towards others. High performing companies understand how behaviours impact employees on an emotional level, where much of engagement with an employer happens.
They therefore value how people do their job.
The high performers in companies where engagement is high, understand their impact and behave in a collaborative and respectful way.
John Lewis – EMPOWERING
John Lewis has a strong focus on people, calling their employees partners.
A word is not just a word; it is also the connection people make with that word, the emotions that it awakens.
By calling them partners, the company is clearly expressing that there is a shared responsibility for the customers and the outcomes of the company. So they focus on involving their partners in decisions and solutions, empowering them to create the best customer experience.
Hyatt – EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT
The hotel group’s high employee retention and long tenure speaks volumes in an industry known for its high employee turnover. The focus on employee development and promoting from within plays a large part in this. They empower their employees (associates), to listen carefully to each other and guests, to be able to solve problems, rather than following scripts of what to do, making the guest feel special and heard.
High performing companies trigger that inner motivation that comes from knowing that you’re growing and developing.
Southwest Airlines – PURPOSE
This airline sees their purpose as connecting people with what’s important to them. They don’t just see themselves as transporters of people, but as enablers who help people get to people or places they care about.
A strong, clear purpose connects emotionally with employees, it engages.
To see that you are doing something more profound than just selling a product or service, makes you feel important.
It’s no longer enough to “just do a job”, we’re seeing that people want to make a difference, to contribute to something bigger than themselves.
Virgin – LISTENING
Listening is at the heart of engagement.
By listening to its employees, Virgin shows that they are valued.
To listen to their opinions and take care of their ideas, to have healthy debates and continuously innovate.
It’s a win-win; the organisation keeps learning and employees feel important and engage with the organisation.
Employees who feel listened to, want to reciprocate, they want to do their best, because they feel valued and important.
According to Zara Seager, head of consulting at management consultancy firm Strengths Partnership, effective management is key to consistently getting the best out of people.
However given that qne third of employees cite frustration with poor management as the factor that causes them the most stress at work, how can that be avoided while creating management techniques that nurture talent and employee engagement?
These five tips will enable managers to create high performing, caring environments.
1. Become a good listener
Managers often believe they are listening, when in fact they are just waiting their turn to offer advice or pass on a relevant anecdote. Giving your full attention to what someone is telling you without interrupting or becoming distracted shows them respect and appreciation, as well as helping you discover what makes them tick.
2. Take an interest
Everyone needs to feel that they are valued and that others are interested in them. An employee is far more likely to care about a business if they believe the business cares about them. Taking an interest in someone, asking them questions and considering their answers are the simplest ways to show someone you value them –which will make them more engaged with the team and the business as a whole.
3. Look outside the workplace
Getting to know team members – and understanding what drives them – often requires effort both in and out of the workplace. Individuals may reveal more genuine sides of themselves outside the constraints of the office. That doesn’t necessarily mean investing in expensive team-building activities. Simply going out for lunch to celebrate key milestones or helping staff to arrange annual team events can help to break down barriers and, again, create more engagement.
4. Discover their motivation
What are your team members passionate about? Why did they choose their particular profession in the first place? Helping your employees to find out what it is that motivates them, and enabling them to tap into that as part of their daily routine, will make their work more meaningful – and that is likely to promote personal brilliance on an ongoing basis.
5. Provide constructive feedback
Schedule regular slots for providing open and constructive feedback to individual employees as well as the team as a whole. Make sure you highlight what they are doing well, as well as outlining areas where progress could be made. Allow employee input into plans for improvement, and enable them to learn from past errors while focusing on future success.
To reach their full potential, employees need to feel they have the support of their managers and the business as a whole, and that they receive the same amount of attention as their colleagues.
Every employee has unique talents and strengths, and drawing them out is the role of a good manager. By taking a genuine interest in team members, listening to them, understanding their motivation, and providing constructive feedback, managers can get the best out of their people.
Mandy Flint and Elisabet Vinberg Hearn’s new book Leading Teams – 10 Challenges: 10 Solutions is published by the FT. Employee engagement is one of the challenges the book explores in depth.