Sustainable employee engagement strategy is not only a hot HR topic. Also, it is a daunting task, regardless of the size of your organization.
Is your HR department currently considering a one size fits all program? On the surface, a universally applicable employee engagement program looks like the most financially reasonable and feasible way to quickly accomplish your goal. However, as Dr. Natalie Baumgartner’s HRB article points out, a one-size-fits-all employee engagement strategy does not fit, at all.
The concept of the workplace continues to evolve. Digital transformation makes it easier for employees to work in remote locations. Can your program ensure that the entire workforce remains engaged, not only with each other, but also with clients?
Before you rush into an initiative which may fall short, consider these four points as you evaluate various employee engagement programs.
Do you have a strategic, tactical or self-serving purpose?
Look before you leap. Ask yourselves the Big Why. Why is HR committing to an employee engagement program in the first place? Or, has HR bought-into employee engagement as a vehicle for changing organizational culture and potentially structure?
When created and implemented strategically, an employee engagement program can move HR from being perceived as cost-center into being valued as a human capital strategy-focused revenue generator. As organizations move into greater integration of all systems, HR processes, practices, tools and personnel must be integrated outside of HR and serve a broader organizational purpose. Where does your organization currently stand regarding its ability to fulfill these strategic, systemic needs?
How will you go about identifying core processes for structuring your employee engagement program?
Identifying the appropriate employee engagement metrics for HR to measure can be a change management exercise, in itself. Consider that selecting a one-size-fits-all program, with out-of-the-box metrics, places your employees in someone else’s box. After all, who should know employees better than HR?
Then, consider whether your current HR department has the skills bandwidth to create, collect, analyze and interpret findings from their employee engagement program. Are current HR employees willing to do the heavy-lifting and learn additional skills? Or, will the entire program be outsourced and become “someone else’s responsibility”?
Is the program creating Commoditization or leveraging Customization and Collaboration?
When the goal of the program is a score, rather than a better understanding of workplace motivation for enduring customer outcomes, then employees are commoditized. Unless you pay attention to how the data are gathered and analyzed, one size fits all employee engagement programs minimize differences in employee needs across professional disciplines and employment tiers.
Lumping all the numbers together and aggregating findings, instead of segmenting them, dilutes the potency of employee engagement programs. For example, STEM professionals have different engagement triggers than do business professionals. Knowledge workers will have a different engagement bandwidth than rote, manual workers. Is the employee engagement program robust and nimble enough to account for how these differences contribute to executing a solid human capital strategy?
Employees now fit into an Age of Customization, Industry 4.0, employment model – at least they should. Is your employee engagement program perpetuating an employment model from yesterday’s Mass Production mindset? Why not determine just what it takes to make employee segments better and better over the duration of their relationship with your company? External customers expect nothing less from their customized experiences with your product and service offerings. Shouldn’t your employees, your internal customers, receive the same?
Be prepared to answer the “And, then what?” question from leadership.
Leadership has a question for you: Are you simply collecting more data for the sake of collecting more data, or does your employee engagement program accomplish specific outcomes aligned with business strategy (see #1)?
Consider how your proposed employee engagement program fits into the strategic priorities of your organization. The last thing employees need is yet another, annual, evaluation exercise whose results are neither implemented nor shared across the organization. Will the employee engagement program be an enduring part of growing a more collaborative corporate culture? Alternatively, will the program simply reinforce what currently goes on in departmental silos?
These are the Big Questions to obtain solid answers to, before committing to the time and expense involved in undertaking an employee engagement program. Yesterday’s HR processes may not be sufficient to address Today’s workforce engagement and churn issues. Why not create an employee engagement program which is robust, yet flexible enough, to target Tomorrow’s and the Future’s business strategy and workforce needs?
Take these next steps towards workforce engagement:
- Read these related posts on professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention.
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Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™ serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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