Employee engagement is a key driver of organisational success, right? Right. Therefore, organisations obviously know how to engage their people, right? Wrong. Even though engagement has been a buzzword for the last decade, in my experience, genuine engagement is still a rare thing.
Having specialised in employee engagement for the last 15 years, I’ve seen behind the scenes of many organisations, and I see time and time again the same barriers to real engagement with employees.
Here are the four key things I believe are critical to a workforce who are genuinely engaged:
Be honest – don’t pretend to engage when you’re actually communicating. It destroys trust and that’s incredibly hard (if not impossible) to build back. Only ask for input when you’re really going to be influenced by it or don’t bother at all.
Take a risk – relinquish some of the control on areas that you can. If people feel that they’re treated with respect and given autonomy to shape important parts of their working life/environment, then that’s going to play a big part in how engaged they feel.
Be creative – art, music and literature can add another dimension to the way in which people understand and view a situation, problem, outcome. The arts are a good way of activating different parts of our brains that often get left at the door in the corporate world. Are there areas in which you can bring creativity into your place of work to add another dimension and encourage people to bring more of themselves to work?
Listen – real engagement is very hard to do if you don’t understand who you’re talking to. Invest the time and resources to undertake real listening exercises in the form of focus groups and interviews.
Having said all of that, communication still has its place of course, there are some things that just need to be pushed out like health and safety procedures, for example. But remember, that if you really are striving for engagement, it’s not going to be easy as it involves genuine listening, a willingness to change, and the desire to relinquish control. Is your workplace up for the challenge?