The term employee engagement is a bit misleading really, isn’t it? It somehow implies that employees are one amorphous mass that have the same needs and respond to similar stimuli. We all know that’s not true though, don’t we?
The truth is the average workplace is made up of a multitude of personalities, cultures, ages and beliefs. Far from being a generic bunch, your employees are likely to be anything but. So how does that knowledge impact on your employee engagement action plan?
We all know that employee engagement is something that every good organisation should be doing. And there’s plenty of evidence out there demonstrating its value. But how do you come up with an action plan that will tick the boxes of everyone in the workplace?
And more to the point, who has the time to come up with a comprehensive employee engagement strategy that will satisfy everyone? And so in this article we offer some very practical advice about how companies can meet their employee engagement obligations while also being as inclusive as possible.
Different Employee Engagement Needs
Not every colleague responds well to an employee of the month type incentive scheme. And yet this is often put forward as being a quick win when it comes to enhancing employee engagement. We’re always told that celebrating success and recognising the achievements of staff is a sure fire way to increase levels of engagement. The truth is that for some employees it will be a great motivator and will facilitate more engagement; but it won’t have the desired effect on all staff members.
You see, different employees will have different engagement needs and stimuli. The introvert employee, for example, tends to be somewhat reserved and prefers to keep out of the spotlight. They will respond better to more anonymous engagement mechanisms such as surveys and polls that allow them to share their views without drawing attention to themselves.
Extrovert employees, on the other hand, will love an employee recognition scheme or indeed any opportunity to voice their opinions on a public platform, either in a focus group scenario or on a blog. And they will love any team building activities and events.
Different cultural backgrounds will also have an influence on the engagement mechanisms you include in any action plan. Some cultures are more encouraging of individuals using their initiative and taking risks than other cultures where employees expect more direction from managers.
And so the dominant organisational culture will be important in this context, as well as the relationship between individual employees and their direct manager where there are cultural differences. It’s a well-known fact after all that the employee-manager relationship is the cornerstone of successful employee engagement.
And what about the needs and expectations of the digital natives in your workforce as opposed to the more traditional and conservative expectations of the older demographic?
Developing a comprehensive action plan that resonates with all these differing needs is a potential minefield. Or is it?
Broad Solutions Will Tick More Boxes
Awareness of the great diversity in the workplace is an important starting point. And the challenge then is to find the right mix of projects that will tick the most boxes when it comes to the needs of employees. How do you achieve this?
Well, here are three ways to approach the issue that will set you off on the right track.
- Ask your employees. It’s simple really. Don’t make judgements or assumptions about ways to engage your staff. The starting point has to be your staff members. Be open and ready to listen to what they are tell you about what works for them.
- Adopt a broad, inclusive approach. Develop an action plan that offers a range of mechanisms and solutions and that is reflective of the particular blend of cultures, ages and personalities apparent in your workforce.
- Be flexible and regularly review where you’re at. Needs and expectations change and what works today may not be quite so effective tomorrow. Build in review mechanisms, check in with staff frequently and be prepared to adapt your action plan to meet changes in both the internal and external environment.
The truth is that employee engagement is a journey rather than a destination. The great diversity of the modern workplace means that adaptable, wide-ranging and inclusive solutions are what’s required.