The Peninsula guide to getting 110 Percent out of your workforce

Peninsula Team

November 11 2010

It doesn’t matter what size your business is, you need people who will go that extra mile and will demonstrate their commitment to the business, which ultimately means they are engaged in and take full responsibility for its growth. However, the majority people will work only as hard as they have to, so how do you get people to do more than their contractual obligations?

The Macleod Report commissioned by the then Government and published in 2009, set out evidence showing a link between employee engagement and organisational performance

“This is about unleashing the potential of people at work and enabling them to be the best that they can be. Whether we are in a downturn or in better economic times, engagement is the key to innovation and competitiveness”
David Macleod

Engaged employees will consistently deliver improved business performance. In direct contrast those not engaged are more likely to be disgruntled employees calling in sick and spending more time on breaks than working, which is a massive cost to any business. In a nutshell, research has shown clear links between engaged employees and employee turnover, bottom line performance, absence and customer satisfaction.

The Macleod Report suggests there are four main drivers which are fundamental to achieving employee engagement:

Leadership – Leaders should inspire a shared vision of the business objectives and look at how it is going to be achieved and what the workers need to do to get there. They can model their way through shared behaviours and leadership, which can be measured by adding core leadership indicators, for example ‘bring the strategy to life, command the market and inspire performance’. By clearly communicating the future goals of the organisation and aligning them with the vision of the organisation, the leaders take control of the outcome.

Engaging Managers – Managers should demonstrate leadership skills whilst engendering trust and respect. Workers should be encouraged to be creative and innovative through continual development and training.

Employee Voice –
Their opinions and thoughts should be considered; communication is key to employee engagement.

Integrity – Engendering trust so that the values of the organisation are being lived, thus providing visibility and a strong sense of what is right for the organisation, which in turn creates value.

The benefit means that any business with engaged employees is more likely to have people who perform better and will put themselves out there to achieve the business goals. The theory of employee engagement is very different from the actual implementation of it. Firstly it is necessary to measure employee engagement, which is achieved by producing an internal employee survey. This then can be produced on a regular basis to measure the effectiveness and commitment of the employees and to what extent the employee is an advocate of the business.

Formulating the right questions is as an important sign post to effective employee engagement. The survey can ask simple questions such as;

1. Overall, how satisfied are you with the organisation as an employer?
2. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
3. Are you motivated to go beyond role responsibilities?
4. At work do your opinions count?
5. Do you believe the organisation is committed to treating employees fairly?
6. Are you proud to work for the organisation?

Once the results have been reviewed, action plans should be formulated, such as what practices, policies and procedures need to be considered in light of any issues that warrant addressing.

Communicating the results to employees is imperative. This exercise should draw out all the positives by celebrating what the organisation is doing well at. Where there are issues, be honest and disclose what management action plans have been decided upon to resolve them, because the management’s strategic objective is to improve employee engagement.

Undertake another survey some 6 months later to see if the action plans implemented have had the desired effect. If yes, what must the organisation continue to do to maintain employee advocacy? If no, what further actions need to be undertaken, perhaps the introduction of local focus groups within departments made up of colleagues doing more local surveys and rolling out more specific actions. For example, specific indicators might include the following matrix; ‘Team Objectives, Direction, Structure, Organisational Support, Team Coaching’. A subdivision should have relevant measurable indicators, in team objectives, for example consider the following:
‘We ensure that all team members are able to make a full contribution to achieving our common goals and challenge and support one another to do so’

In addition to internal surveys, an effective way to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty is to adopt the same survey principles as above and undertake customer surveys. Consider how to formulate your questions, even those you don’t want to ask. Effective objectives can then be put in place to combat the challenges identified. In addition, celebrate the successes, shout about the positives and utilise them within your marketing campaign, there is nothing more powerful than customer testimonies.

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