Type ’employee engagement strategy’ into Google and you’ll get over seven MILLION references. So there’s a lot being said about the subject.
My eye was drawn to a recent article entitled ‘Employee engagement and retention tips to retain key employees’. The writer suggested that the way to engage the workforce was to introduce an award scheme for outstanding employees, branded with the slogan ‘only you can make a difference’. He suggested that the winner(s) should be given a personal organiser or a branded briefcase, their own stationery or even a lapel badge. They could be offered a ‘golf day’, the chance to drive a Porsche for a day or even – wait for it – a special parking space for a year!
If only engaging employees were so easy, or so inexpensive.
The objective, surely, must be to engage employees with their work and with the goals of the organisation, not with doing what is necessary to win a day at the wheel of a Porsche. This means creating an alignment between the needs of the organisation and those of its employees. Which in turn means understanding the needs of employees and managing the workplace to ensure that they are met.
Hence our view that employee engagement strategy begins with the process of measuring current levels of engagement and, where there are gaps, understanding the reasons and what must be done to fill them. These may be basic – for decent working conditions, equipment and resources, for pay and benefits, training, effective communication and management. They may be at a higher level – for satisfaction and pride in what the organisation delivers, for personal growth and development, for opportunities to innovate and be creative.
Once the current situation is determined and employees’ needs are understood, the process of developing an engagement strategy can really begin. This is why every organisation will tend to devise a different strategy, because its circumstances and the needs of its employees will be different. Personal organisers and golf days notwithstanding.