The Engage for Success Taskforce and the subsequent movement that started ten years ago has been a major contributor to putting employee engagement much more at the centre of the business dialogue.
Over this time, trends in engagement have been moving in a positive direction, but not consistently. The industry of surveys and measurement tools paint a variable picture, partly because of the various ways in which engagement itself is assessed, and partly because progress has indeed been inconsistent.
Most surveys that look at wider aspects of employee satisfaction at work, such as the CIPD’s research with Simply Health over the last 20 years, still show that too many people at work are stressed, not feeling sufficiently supported or well managed, and lack clarity of understanding about their role, purpose, and their opportunities for growth and development.
The Four Enablers of Engagement
The four enablers of engagement that have been central to the movement, resonate in all these aspects – the need for purpose and strategic narrative, the importance of employee voice, of integrity and cultures that are true to their values, and in how managers engage with their teams.
The fundamental idea of engagement should be about more people-centric cultures and putting people first. The pandemic has in many cases provided a significant boost for these principles. The pandemic was first and foremost a human crisis which also rapidly became an organisational and economic crisis. Organisations everywhere had to rapidly adapt with close on half the workforce suddenly working from home for months on end, and others who still had to go to places of work needing protection and support different from anything we had done before.
As a result, business leaders at every level had to up their game in communicating, in listening to their people, in their support and care for people facing many new challenges. We all had to learn to trust our people more, to focus on their outputs and not just the time spent at work. Hierarchies also were broken down, and we all started to see many other aspects of people’s lives, giving us all a greater appreciation for everyone as individuals.
Widespread Improvements in Engagement
The response has led to widespread improvements in engagement, where people are feeling more valued, communications have improved, and wellbeing and compassion and care for people has become a much stronger focus. Those organisations that have responded less well and not willing to adapt and learn from these experiences will without doubt find themselves in more difficulty in retaining and attracting people going forwards.
This then is a time to renew our focus and understanding of people and work. To establish and embed what we have learned from responding to the pandemic, with more compassion, support, inclusion and focus on wellbeing for all. These are principles that underpin responsible business and good work. And we should look to recognise progress, to be more transparent in reporting on how we are investing in our people. It’s what stakeholders of every organisation are demanding more of.
The Engage for Success movement has done so much to raise awareness and understanding of all these issues. It will continue it’s work, connecting more and more people to share insights, experiences, and good practices that help every organisation become a positive place to work and for people to be able to give of their best.
Author: Peter Cheese, Chair – EFS Advisory Board and Chief Executive – CIPD