How to unlock employee engagement that’s unique, not formulaic
We’re relatively new to the field of employee engagement. Instead, our background is customer experience (CX), and that means we come at the challenge of creating inspired, motivated employees from a whole different perspective. We started out by looking at the thought-leaders and accepted models in the industry, including BlessingWhite, Aon Hewitt and Hay Group. They’re all well-structured, well-established and well…..pretty much the same.
They do a great job of providing a standardised structure for the high-level drivers of engagement - things like Trust, Quality of Life, My Manager and so on. This top-down approach has the benefit of being easily controlled by Management from the outset - you know what the themes are going to be if you preset them yourself at the beginning! And they’re great for benchmarking against your competitors - because everyone is capturing employee experience in the same structured way.
But do you really want to explore your employee engagement in standardised boxes? Is that really the route to capturing the essence of how your workforce feels?
In the world of CX, we tend to start bottom-up, because whilst you may THINK you know the key issues to creating a great experience, the truth is you often don’t know why. To get to the distinctive things about how customers experience your brand, we focus most of our effort in customers’ own stories - their language, their examples, their emotion. It means we’re used to capturing unstructured feedback - the way people really speak, rather than always forcing them to give a score or pick from a drop-down box.
So - we’ve adapted our CX approach for employee engagement, whilst keeping the best from the established models that firms are used to. It’s quite simple really (in concept at least!) and it runs like this, across three streams of employee feedback activity:
- Listening Groups - facilitated by external moderators that have no baggage and enable employees to speak as freely as they like. We run LOTS of them, getting representation from different types of job role, office location and length of time in the organisation.
- Employee Surveys - these are more akin to the standard engagement surveys common in many companies. They’re built to align to previous surveys to provide some continuity tracking, but can also introduce some metrics and ideas we’ve learned from other industries.
- Free Comment Boxes - LOTS of them. Wherever we ask a structured question in a survey, we also encourage employees to “tell it their way”. And not only do we get a huge amount of feedback, it’s usually the richest and most compelling information of all! It then leaves us with the challenge of interpreting, coding and distilling that insight into themes, but that's what we thrive on! And we've developed a methodology that enables this intensive task to be done in a smart, cost-effective way (and yes - we’ve tried using fuzzy computer logic to do this, but in our long experience across many industry sectors, it still just isn’t smart enough to get it right every time!).
The true beauty of this approach is that our clients still get a read on employee engagement in the traditional structure, so they can compare to previous years’ results, or against competitors or even other industries. But the distinctive benefit is that they also capture the granular, individual clues and experiences that crystallise their unique employee culture. We leverage our researcher skills honed from customer experience work in healthcare, retail, travel and leisure to unpick not just what employees want to be improved, but what they love, what they talk about, what they hope and expect. Perhaps best of all, companies that can empower their workforce to be who they really are, rather than having to 'surface act', can see positive change in both employee wellbeing and work-life balance.
We have the capability to split the data up (so we know which office, region, job role has raised more comments about some issues than others). This enables local initiatives to be created, responding to the local sentiment, whilst also using it as grassroots best-practice, to build up towards company-wide engagement. And throughout, we place safeguards to protect the confidentiality of employee feedback, to ensure that the insight can be true-to-life rather than people saying what they think is expected!
We believe that this fresh approach is the way forward – a better way to: • tap into the ground-up collective of employee sentiment, experience and energy. • unlock the potential of your workforce, not just to create happier employees but to support your company's commercial success too. • pinpoint and define what makes your company culture unique and how you can develop it further.
So here’s the challenge! Are you still happy just comparing this year’s engagement scores with last year? Or are you ready to step 'beyond the formulaic' to find out who your company really is?
To find out more about our employee engagement programmes, contact firstname.lastname@example.org