Monthly Archives: November 2012

What does employee engagement mean to you?

To a lot of people absolutely nothing. I suppose it’s not that surprising after all the term ’employee engagement’ isn’t that  inspiring or exciting.

I had expected business people to be more aware though; after all when you hear quotes like ‘85% more profit’ and ‘50% less absence’ in this economic climate you’d expect to see business owner/managers ears prick up. Maybe in the UK we’re just conditioned to hearing negative news stories (like how much a company had to pay out when they lost a tribunal) that when something positive comes along we miss it*/ignore it*/don’t believe it * (*please delete as appropriate)

Then there are those that have heard of ’employee engagement’ but, mistakenly, think it’s far too expensive for them to do anything about it.  Fair enough engagement does sound expensive if you

  1. only associate it with big companies (who have deep pockets)
  2. and weddings (…may also require deep pockets)!

Employee engagement is relevant to every organisation that wants to stay in business or grow.

It’s the extras that make a wedding expensive. The big statement dress, the huge number of guests – the ceremony itself is not.

And that goes for employee engagement too.

Of course you can have glossy brochures, and tailor made training programs if you want but its really just about good systems, good management and leadership. Things like giving people clear targets and goals and sharing information about how the business is performing don’t have to cost anything. Except perhaps a bit of time and effort. But when you calculate the returns you can expect from engaging your people (unlike a wedding) you’ll understand you can quickly recover any costs that you might incur.

Then there are the people who, despite talking about engaging customers for years, think engaging your people is a pink and fluffy ‘nice to have’.  Take a look at this latest report published on the newly launched www.engage4success.org website today (the product of a government taskforce on employee engagement) 94% of the world’s most admired companies believe that their efforts to engage their employees have created a competitive advantage

So can I ask you again – what does employee engagement mean to you?

Once a disengaged employee always a disengaged employee?

I read this blog on recruitment and this bit (below) got me thinking…

It suits recruiters (agency and corporate) to perpetuate the belief that everyone is either active or open to looking but it isn’t the case.

Its a really interesting blog with links to some Jobsite research too. I agree with what Mervyn Dinnen says and thought I’d add my perspective to support what he says (Mervyn talks about active candidates as active job hunters and passive candidates as ones not looking but open to ‘offers’).

In line with the proposition that  ‘past performance is a predictor of future performance’  (most commonly applied to aid both recruitment and investment decisions) it makes sense to target the top performers when recruiting.

Looking at this with an engagement hat on I am bound to say therefore that you want to recruit engaged employees; all the research shows engaged employees deliver better results and profits (higher sales, greater productivity, better customer service, more creative, less wastage, fewer sick days – I’m only stopping here because I don’t want to repeat my adjectives!).

No?

The blog suggests that recruiters find it hard to reach those top performers and I wonder if they are wasting their time by even trying to do so. Truly engaged employees demonstrate a high level of commitment and loyalty to their employer, colleagues and customers. They don’t want to move. A strategy focusing on them could mean they’re not only wasting time but also missing a huge opportunity.

First past performance is only one indicator of future performance. In my opinion you can only rely on past performance to ‘predict’ future performance where everything remains the same, nothing changes. The same market conditions, the same products and customers. The same culture, leadership style, values and objectives. The same team, working conditions and working practices. That’s just not going to happen.

Most active job hunters (or people open to being headhunted) are those I would describe as passively engaged. That doesn’t automatically make them bad performers or bad candidates. It’s just as likely (more likely if I’m honest) that their current/last employer for whatever reason was not able, or did not understand how,  to create the  ‘conditions’ to engage and tap in to their full potential. Give them the right opportunity, environment and conditions and they will thrive.

Secondly I’d be wary of spending (or wasting) time trying to entice people who are currently engaged; they are going to be very exacting because they already have everything that they want. As an Employer can you replicate, match and exceed the conditions that have enabled them to be engaged? How confident are you that you will be able to keep them engaged, meet their expectations and win their loyalty?

So next time you’re recruiting let past performance take a back seat. Don’t discount it completely but put an emphasis on engagement and select the people who will ‘fit’ with the way you work, your values, your objectives and your existing workforce.

To find out how to attract and retain the right people to keep your organisation performing its best then just ask3ease for more information or michelle@3ease.com

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