Spotlight On The Employee Engagement Profession Launches!
We launched our latest research, ‘Spotlight On The Employee Engagement Profession’ at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations at an exclusive event last Wednesday 24th February.
The research was borne out of a need to understand why companies still struggle to improve employee engagement, despite the fact that it is rising up the business agenda:
HR Review reported that the HR elite spend 15% of their time on employee engagement a week (2015); Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends Report states ‘culture and engagement were rated the most important challenge of 2015. And yet, the CIPD Employee Engagement Index for 2015 in the UK is at 39%, only up 1% point from 2014.
The research identified the key barriers to employee engagement, which include:
Generating buy-in to employee engagement: It seems that despite the ever growing body of evidence, those responsible for engagement are still struggling to convince senior stakeholders of the business case for engagement.
Line Managers: Despite the fact that practitioners are focussing on line managers as a key enabler of employee engagement (71%), the findings show us that 48%of managers do not have a good understanding of engagement.
Lack of Resource: Over a quarter of organisations say that they have no budget for employee engagement, and a further 21% say that they have less than £10,000. So whilst companies are saying that employee engagement is a top priority, there is a gap when it comes to allocating budget to improve it.
Lack of Understanding: Our research found that only 25% of organisations have a company wide definition of employee engagement, and only 45% of organisations have an employee engagement strategy.
The lack of a definition and strategy was a topic of discussion with our panel, Rob Neil, Head of Engagement Networks at Ministry of Justice, and Jenny Clark, Head of Internal Communications at De Beers Group.
When asked why it seems to be so hard for organisations to nail a strategy and definition,
Jenny Clark said: “It’s hard to find a definition of engagement that fits a whole organisation. It’s such a big task to tackle and get traction on when there is so much else to do as everyone is so busy.”
Rob said that in the Ministry of Justice’s case, in the absence of a single definition, they created an employee engagement ‘go to forum’ for employees to discuss what they thought.
In terms of strategy, it was agreed that many organisations start with the employee engagement survey, thought not everyone knows why they are conducting it, only that they feel they should. The importance of ‘starting with the end in mind’ is clear – understand what it is you want to measure and why before the survey, so that you can better demonstrate ROI and make improvements.
Other practical ideas to improve employee engagement were also discussed. The Ministry of Justice for example, implemented an Employee Engagement network of volunteer champions, growing from 100 to 950 in 8 years.
When asked how to get this right, Rob advised: ‘be clear about the objectives and role, and also the support champions will receive from the outset’. The Ministry of Justice now have a written role description for Champions to help with this. They also hold an annual Champions Day where champions meet and celebrate what has been achieved, develop their understanding of employee engagement, and discuss what else needs to be achieved.
The future of measuring employee engagement was also a topic of debate, Emma advised that the rise of apps is showing no sign of slowing down, and GlassDoor will continue to be a big part of this too. Jenny Clark advised that: ‘going back to basics and having real conversations is also important, as not everyone has the resources and access to the newer technologies available’.
Rob Neil developed an approach at the Ministry of Justice by forming a team that visit units across the country to discuss engagement together, and create an action plan. Best practice & hot tips are then collated and shared via their evolving ‘Compendium of Engagement’ i.e. an interactive PDF document accessible by all and giving employees the opportunity to own it.
In terms of using mobile technology, the importance of integrity was brought up here. If people don’t feel safe enough to speak up or if trust in their voice making a difference is broken, there is a reluctance to take part in employee engagement initiatives.
Jenny Clark advised: “Culture is a big challenge to finding out exactly what employees think and feel, the potential that they will only say what they think you want to hear in conversations, or not answer demographics in surveys. It’s important to look at manager relationships, for example.”
As Rob Neil put it, “it’s people that build trust, not surveys’. At the Ministry of Justice, they found that those areas with more champions tended to have higher levels of engagement.