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Stop trying to impose employee engagement and instead put engagement in the hands of the people who matter most: your employees.
So you want to boost employee engagement? You’ve read the reports, you’ve seen the statistics and you understand that with engagement comes strength and prosperity and improved customer service.
But how do you go about it? You can’t simply stand up and announce that from now on we’re all going to be engaged. And you certainly can’t instruct someone to care more about the business; the only reaction you are going to get there is a negative one. Perhaps an online search may help. Well, it might but it also might leave you with the impression that what you need is a ball pool, some charity work and a couple of sustainability teams.
In autumn 2008 the initial report was commissioned which led to the formation of Engage for Success  in the UK and yet whilst some businesses have picked up the engagement challenge, there is still a long way to go before engagement is seen as a natural ingredient of business success. In January 2016 Gallup  commented that “employee engagement has barely budged in years” with just 13% of engaged employees worldwide; whilst the Spring 2016 CIPD engagement review, which broke engagement up into four areas, threw up some equally concerning numbers.
When you think about it, it’s hardly surprising that despite all of the emphasis on employee engagement over the last decade or so, survey after survey reveals a depressing tale of lack of engagement and failed opportunities. The recession, the pace of technological change, the globalisation of business thanks to the internet, have all contributed towards a rapidly changing business environment. When that happens the natural inclination of business leaders is to focus on the numbers. And when that happens it is easy to lose sight of the people.
But business isn’t about numbers. People buy from people, people engage with people, people design products that other people may like; in fact without people you wouldn’t have employees or customers or investors. And employee engagement is key to business success. It drives customer interaction and satisfaction, it drives the creation of innovative products and services and it drives the smooth and profitable running of the business.
So where are businesses going wrong? Quite simply, it’s time to forget about the headcount and the gimmicks and start looking at your people as people. Employee engagement is a relationship and you don’t build strong, mutually profitable, and lasting relationships by instruction or control.
And above all stop trying to impose engagement and instead put engagement in the hands of the people who matter most: your employees. Self managed engagement programs work because they are run by the people who have the greatest interest in being engaged. Self-managed programmes give them a voice and a stake in the success of the business. And, not unsurprisingly, simply by introducing self-managed programmes you are sending out a powerful message that you care about your people and their welfare.
The next few weeks see many businesses looking towards Christmas and the end of the year. Parties and bonuses may be under consideration and the odd box of chocolates may appear in the office. If you really want to look towards securing a strong 2017 then give your people the best present that you can; trust and empowerment via a forward-looking and innovative self managed engagement programme.