One of the things that continues to surprise me is that when times are bad organizations still spend money on employee engagement surveys. A general look around the office or factory and tea room discussions would make it obvious to all that wanted to see it that employees are not so much engaged as they are worried about their jobs. This leads us to two major issues to consider during tough times, the first is how we inspire confidence and innovation in an organization that appears to be in freeze mode. The second is what you should measure as an indicator of employee engagement.
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Let’s deal with inspiring confidence and innovation in your organization. Well this boils down to a change management strategy that focuses on getting employees actively involved at all levels in understanding the business and how their ideas can have a positive impact. Here’s an example of what you could do.
- Take real business data and share it with groups of employees at all levels that deal with customers in specific sectors.
- Ask employees for ideas on improving or innovating just one aspect of your service offering or product line and test in a specific market segment on a small scale, say a sales territory or state.
- Then after testing those ideas for a six week period ask employees to examine the business results.
- Take those ideas that have shown a substantial improvement in sales and implement either state wide or nationally depending on your organization.
- Design a reward and recognition program around the impact of these ideas on the business outcomes and start to energize your workforce.
It really is that simple, treat employees with respect, stop telling them what to do instead listen to what they have to say, put some rigor around the framework for ideas and reward outstanding results. This is how innovation happens and how you can energize an organization to respond quickly to changing market conditions.
Another key is to ensure that whatever change management strategy you design it has specific activities and responsibilities for management. Often we forget that managers are just as concerned during tough times about their job security, but their team members are looking at them for direction and support. So when we design change strategies ensure that there are key responsibilities and clearly defined activities for all levels of the organization. So practically what does this mean with our example above? Well you would design specific activities such as;
- Managers would identify the real business data and share it with their teams
- Managers would be responsible for selecting which ideas would be selected for testing in a specific market and they would decide which test market
- Managers would obtain the business results at the end of the six week test period and organise briefings with their teams
- The hierarchy of managers would then decide which tests produced the best result and decide which to implement and project plan that implementation
- Together with human resources the management team would decide on a reward and recognition program and share it with their teams.
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So what about employee engagement surveys? I say save your organization the tens of thousands of dollars they cost and invest your time in a well thought out change management strategy like that outlined above. This will ensure a climate where communication is open, ideas are valued and actions are implemented. All these steps are indicative of a workforce that is focussed, has purpose and feels a greater level of confidence about the future of their organization and therefore their role because they are actively involved in designing the future, not being told what do and when to do it. If you just change the paradigm from budget cuts, budget cuts and budget cuts to opportunities, growth and involvement your organization’s business results will be your barometer of employee engagement, no survey required.
Recommended Books on Employee Engagement:
- Employee Engagement 2.0: How to Motivate Your Team for High Performance (A Real-World Guide for Busy Managers)
- 365 Ways to Motivate and Reward Your Employees Every Day: With Little or No Money
- Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT
- How to Motivate Every Employee: 24 Proven Tactics to Spark Productivity in the Workplace (The McGraw-Hill Professional Education Series)
- 1501 Ways to Reward Employees
Marcia Xenitelis is a recognized authority on the subject on change management and has spoken at conferences around the world. For access to case studies and more information on the types of strategies you can implement to engage employees visit itculturalchangetips.com for a wealth of free informative articles and resources.