While some leaders are aware that employee engagement is a strategic differentiator for business success, many organizations have struggled to respond to the dramatic expansion of engagement measurement options now available and the increased need for timely responses to engagement concerns. We believe that an employee engagement strategy guides organizations through the maze of measurement methods and vendors by identifying core concerns and aligning assessment options with relevant engagement drivers.
Like other talent or business strategies, an employee engagement strategy should take into consideration shifting employee preferences, changing ways of working, and new technologies. While many organizations continue to develop their engagement plans based on annual or biennial surveys (which reflect a single point in time in the past), they should also consider the more dynamic, real-time response solutions that have recently become available.
Employee engagement should be led by the CHRO with implementation support from business leaders. Six pivotal actions can help the CHRO architect their organization’s engagement strategy:
Defining engagement at their organization. Creating a common language to describe what employee engagement means for each individual organization paves the way to creating a strategy that is truly actionable. It is also important for CHROs to understand how the engagement strategy aligns with the company’s overall business plan, the drivers of engagement that promote that strategy, and the many factors that contribute to work culture and relationships between the employer and its employees.
Securing buy-in from leadership. Like other strategic initiatives, effective engagement outcomes are dependent on a commitment from leadership. The CHRO should identify what issues leadership is willing to address and involve leaders who can champion the cause.
Creating transparency. An engagement strategy often starts with some idea of what is frustrating employees and the kinds of changes they want. Although change is not always possible, a CHRO should create an environment in which these concerns can be flagged and discussed openly.
Eliminating potential obstacles. Potential challenges to implementing an effective engagement program range from internal, controllable factors (such as willingness to examine communication styles and make cultural changes) to external, uncontrollable factors (such as economic and / or market shifts). A clear understanding of these issues and the actions required to address them will be an important part of a viable strategy.
Evaluating options. The CHRO should play an active role in determining which engagement drivers are most relevant, which assessment methods should be used, how results should be reported, and priorities for action-planning. The CHRO’s broad organizational perspective will help keep these activities aligned with strategic priorities.
Translating data into action. The CHRO should help craft the company’s vision for addressing engagement and oversee actions taken as a result of data gathered via assessments. The CHRO should endeavor to ensure that employees know their voices have been heard and that they matter to the organization.
To learn more about developing an employee engagement strategy, join Christie Moon, the Director Organizational Development for the National Aquarium, and me on August 23rd at 12:00 pm ET for a complimentary Bersin webinar Designing an Employee Engagement Strategy: More than Measurement.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to add a comment below, connect with me on Twitter @RAEricksonPhD, or by email at email@example.com
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 Designing an Employee Engagement Strategy, Bersin by Deloitte / Robin Erickson, Ph.D., and Heather Bussing, 2016.