Peaks and platforms: summiting employee engagement

The era of water cooler chats and expensive international phone calls are fading. Nowadays, employees are chatting with colleagues on the other side of the world over Slack, Workplace and Skype.

As technology evolves and workforces become more agile, employers are looking for ways to keep that community feel about their organisation.

I attended the Employee Engagement Summit this month. Watching 20 speakers presenting case studies, demonstrating engagement platforms, celebrating successes and learning from mistakes, I realised that when it comes to peak employee engagement, it all comes back to the same three themes.

Below, I share my thoughts on each theme and which digital platform can help deliver on it.

Purpose

Organisations invest a lot of time and budget in making sure their external messages are clear through key message frameworks, press releases, glossy websites and much handshaking at networking events. Where some may let themselves down, is not realising that it’s just as important to invest in how that message is translated internally.

You’ve heard it from self-help gurus for years – “find your why”. Personally, I feel like that pursuit causes a lot of unnecessary stress for individuals, but it’s valid for businesses.  Find your purpose, or your “business why” – then once you’ve found it, make sure that your employees know it.

DHL presented a brilliant case study on their internal Certified International Specialist (CIS) campaign. The practical engagement campaign aimed to motivate employees to deliver great service quality and increased customer loyalty.  CIS then became a badge that all DHL employees used internally that has been so successful it’s now part of their external branding too. The employees believed in their internal business purpose so much that it became part of their external messaging.

A balance between push and pull information, such as tailored e-news and an engaging intranet, is important for helping employees really soak up the business’ purpose. E-newsletters aren’t the same dull message from your CEO that they used to be, and the intranet doesn’t need to be a jumble of policies and procedures. We’ve worked on video newsletters, animated infographics, augmented reality and much more to help businesses communicate their “why” with their employees.

Giving employees a voice

It’s not rocket science, if you want your employees to be engaged in work – then actually engage them. That means including employees in decision making, seeking input and listening to ideas.

Endless studies show that wages are far from the biggest motivator for employees. Employees value flexibility, feeling appreciated and benefits higher than any equivalent pay rise.

Monzo presented a case study on their rapid growth and discussed how Slack groups had helped ensure their employees always had somewhere to be heard. They have a channel to share gratitude for fellow employees, a channel for mental health support of each other and regularly arrange one on one catch ups across the entire team.

We use Slack internally at Ruder Finn and have similar recognition and rewards systems in place. We can help you develop an internal communications strategy to help your employees feel appreciated and find their voice too.                                                      

Collaboration

Providing your employees with a platform where they can communicate with each other and collaborate helps build deeper and more lasting connections – strengthening their relationship with the company and improving their job satisfaction.

On top of that, collaboration is the most effective method of solving a problem, so why wouldn’t you get your employees working together? Ideation is the new buzzword in design thinking – it’s like brainstorming, but makes sure that all ideas get heard, not just those of your loudest employee.

There are countless case studies of brilliant ideas being crowd sourced from the employee base. Waitrose demonstrated an example at the Employee Engagement Summit of an idea that might have been shot down in a brainstorm for not thinking ‘big’ enough but led to significant savings for the business.

An employee estimated up to 12cm in length could be removed from each receipt. You’d be forgiven for ignoring an idea like this in a brainstorm, given that paper receipts will likely be non-existent in a few years. But it was seen by someone in IT, who said it was simple enough to do. The change was implemented, and it led to a saving of £168k per annum in procurement costs of till roll for Waitrose.

The digital age means we can connect with people we wouldn’t normally connect with, even if they don’t speak the same language. This can only drive innovation and curiosity. Workplace by Facebook is a great example of a platform that makes this easy, allowing colleagues from across the globe to work together to solve common problems and come up with new ideas. We’ve helped roll this out for our clients and the results are impressive.

So there you have it, the three peaks of employee engagement. Broadcasting your purpose internally giving your employees their own voice and then giving them the space to collaborate with each other. In addition to those platforms mentioned above, there are many others, all of which should be part of a solid internal communications strategy – and we can help you with all of them ?