Monday February 11, 2013
By Caroline White - Client Support Manager
It has been proved many times over that employee engagement leads to increased company performance. The Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study supports this; finding organisations with low engagement scores had an average operating margin of just under 10% compared to 27% in those with ‘sustainable’ engagement practices.
So what is ‘sustainable’ engagement and how can organisations tap into this? HBR’s Tony Shwartz concludes that ‘willing’ doesn't necessarily guarantee ‘able’. People may well be engaged for a certain period of time or engaged but unable to fulfil the requirements of their role. Therefore, sustainable engagement goes beyond traditional practices by introducing enablement; ensuring employees have the tools, resources and support to do their jobs effectively and energy; an environment actively supporting employees’ physical, emotional and interpersonal well-being.
Towers Watson also found that 74% of sustainably engaged employees believed their leader cared about welfare compared to just 18% of disengaged employees. This implies that leaders need to show a genuine interest in the wellbeing of their people in order for them to continue to perform.
Our tips for creating sustainable engagement:
- Take a pulse check as to where you are now, use the learnpurple engagement survey (free for under 100 people) or devise your own questions addressing enablement and energy.
- Put in place practices that make it possible for employees to successfully manage their workload; i.e. flexible working hours or working from home on certain days. In Purple your People an example is given where an employer supported a new father by changing his working arrangements so he could work from home one day a week and come into the office early and leave earlier on the other days. This meant he could still be productive, if not more so, whilst spending time with his children and feeling less stressed. Similarly when EMEA, Plantronics set up new smarter working initiatives, giving employees the freedom to carry out their roles around their personal commitments, they saw employee satisfaction rise from 63% to 80% in just six months plus 60% less sick days were taken.
- Encourage employees to take responsibility for their own welfare by promoting freedom within a framework and asking them to come up with new ideas to improve the company. Asda have always championed employee contributions with success. In 2011 they ran a Bright Ideas scheme where ideas were submitted all year round and for those ideas which were used, their creator was given a £30 gift card. Not only did this improve employee morale as they were being listened to; it benefited the company.
- Introduce internal mentoring with senior people. It’s a great way to double check that there is support in place and that people have the right resources to do the job, As long as the framework is agreed by all it can help people to succession plan and think differently about challenges they may face.
- A study by Loughborough University of HMRC-approved all-employee share plans found that 75% of employees were more engaged and loyal to their employer. They also were more likely to consider the costs of their actions, were better at managing their own money and had less sick days.
- Shwartz recommends, and we agree, it’s worth having an organisation-wide agreement around the length of meetings and the hours during which people are expected to respond to emails so that everyone knows what is expected of them.
- Finally it is important to lead by example- leaders need to visibly live by the company values and the ‘way we do things round here’. In recent research by learnpurple we found that for company values to be successful they need to be considered and talked about daily in order for them to really become part of company culture.
How sustainable is the engagement in your workplace?