For today’s “Matrix Monday”, our regular look at some of the literature around matrix related topics, Phil Stockbridge reviews and summarises the Employee Engagement Toolkit from HRZONE.co.uk and Great Place to Work on behalf of our readers.
This easy-to-read guide offers the reader a useful summary of the latest thinking on engagement, with contributions from Cranfield, Pennsylvania and Bath Universities, Kent, Ashridge and Cass Business Schools.
In the Tom O’Byrne (CEO, Great Place to Work) introduction, he highlights that they have identified trust as a key factor, recently backed up by research from the MacLeod Employee Engagement Task Force. It also identifies the benefits of:
- Increased individual and organizational performance and productivity
- Income growth
- Better customer satisfaction rates
- Greater staff retention
- More innovation
The second article explores the cultural aspect of engagement and makes the point that what works in one country or culture does not necessarily work in another. They highlight the classic cultural difference of individual versus group, and the way that engagement means something quite different in each. The writers have quite correctly recognised that the economic environment as well as the national culture have an effect on what engages particular groups of workers. The two universal drivers of engagement were identified as the importance of communication and the critical role of line managers. From this they concluded that employee engagement is a universal concept, but successful execution is cultural.
The third article examines what line managers can do to raise engagement levels. It identifies five core interconnected elements, namely:
- the design of work:
- interpersonal respect;
- and voice.
Looking at trust in more detail, the article re-enforces the importance it has in engagement and identifies four characteristics for trust:
- ability to do their job;
- concern for others beyond their own personal needs;
- integrity (adherence to a set of principles acceptable to others);
- and consistency.
The fourth article looks at overcoming the barriers to senior leader engagement. Written by a research fellow of the Ashridge Business School, it reports from a piece of its own research, prepared in partnership with the UK government, that the skills and capabilities of top management is the key barrier to engagement. It goes on to identify three barriers, namely:
- shortcomings in leadership capability;
- facets of leaders’ personalities and values;
- and the organization culture and systems.
It optimistically proposes a change from a system of task orientation towards a “softer” system of inquiry, conversation and interaction. Most usefully it concludes by reminding us that future engagement will be with a workforce that is quite different from the current generation, requiring different skills to manage different expectations.
The final article in the piece looks at developing leadership styles that facilitate employee engagement. The author, Professor Cliff Oswick, takes us through a journey of three E’s, from Enrichment, through Empowerment to Engagement. He too reflects on the different expectations of the next generation of workers, proposes some alternatives to command-and-control, and concludes with a rallying cry to engage with workers in order to make better business decisions.
As with many of these type of “toolkits” ,much of the value is in the extensive reference list which a dedicated reader may wish to explore further.
If you would like help with and ideas for employee engagement, contact Global Integration using the form to the right of this page (on most devices) or by calling or emailing your closest Global Integration office.