"One size fits one" in engagement
Engagement is a "one size fits one" concept, so one of the most important things employers can do to boost engagement levels is know their employees, an HR Daily webinar heard yesterday.
Measure and identify driversEmployers should measure and identify not only employee engagement, but what is driving that engagement, Lowe told the webinar.
Employers should be able to identify the items and themes in their models that correlate most closely to engagement, he says. "The interesting thing is they can change year on year. Evidence would suggest that if something is a driver of engagement and you're getting a lower score around the benchmark, or a lower score than you would want to get, that becomes a lever to pull. The very same lever might disappear in a year's time when you re-survey your group."
Employers should also be able to benchmark against their competitors, sectors and regions.
Right Management is soon to release a new set of benchmarks for employee engagement, and Lowe says the study found the top driver of engagement in Australia is an individual's commitment to their organisation's goals. (This was ranked seventh when the study was conducted in 2009.)
The second strongest driver is whether an employee feels confident about reaching their long-term career goals in the organisation, followed by whether customers think highly of the company's products and services. (View the webinar, below, for further insights.)
Understanding these drivers is a vital step in any engagement efforts. And to whatever extent possible, employees should be involved in identifying which actions to take.
"Do employees know what's on the action plan? Have they been involved in drawing up the action plan? To what extent can you involve them? Who owns the action plan? And how is progress checked, or is it something that tends to go on a shelf and be dusted off when it comes round to survey time?"
Finally, employers should "demonstrate, declare and link" their engagement actions.
"We talk to clients about the notion of 'you said... we did...'," Lowe says.
This means that an organisation should make it very clear to employees when an action is taken based on feedback from engagement surveys, "because we can't expect people to notice the actions being linked to the feedback that they gave you".
"One of the strongest links between year-on-year improvement in employee engagement is the degree to which people are helped to see the actions that are taken and that those actions are a result of the feedback that they gave."
Avoid common mistakesLowe says one of the most common mistakes employers make while attempting to drive employee engagement is "thinking the calf gets fat just by weighing it". Too often, he says, employers conduct engagement surveys but fail to do anything with the results.
"If you don't share the results and be very clear on the actions that are going to be taken, what can actually happen, and often does, is that levels of employee engagement tend to deteriorate," he says.
Other common mistakes include not using benchmark comparisons, not understanding the key drivers of engagement, and poor action planning.
A recording of the webinar can now be viewed on the HR Daily Community site. Sign up for a free account to access it. (Note, this is separate to your HR Daily subscription.)