In recent articles we have looked at how to implement a positive employment culture in business. This will help to increase employee loyalty, business growth and profitability.
But who is responsible for introducing employee engagement into an organisation? And how can trust and engagement be maintained?
Can a strategic HR partner – such as JMA HR – implement employee engagement for you? The answer to this is that – whilst we can support, advice and facilitate – we cannot make it happen. The change in the organisation’s culture has to come from within – from the top – and everyone in the company has a part to play.
Living the dream
It is a bit of a cliché that you need to model the change you want to happen. You would probably like to have a workforce which is actively engaged in improving your business. You want them to work towards achieving your business vision and to be an advocate for your organisation. Your attitudes, behaviours and approach will all filter down throughout the organisation. If you are invariably polite, helpful, and friendly to people, then you are a positive role model for your employees. If you lock yourself in your office and discourage others from interrupting you, then you cannot blame your staff if they do not make an effort to engage with your customers.
In previous articles we have looked at positive ways of interacting with your employees. If you show trust in people, recognise their efforts, listen to their ideas and concerns and share your vision with them, you are a model for the behaviours and attitudes you want them to demonstrate.
Implementing a positive employment culture
The individuals who have people management responsibilities (including you if you manage others) are key to the successful introduction of a positive employment culture. Like the senior team, they are role models for the workforce. But their role is more critical. They will hear employee views, concerns, ideas – and ensure implementation, or answers. They are the people in the ideal position to recognise – and highlight – small successes. You need to provide training and development for line managers, so that they know and understand their role in achieving a high level of engagement.
There may be others within your business who have an impact on the levels of employee engagement.
If you recognise Trade Unions and have Union representatives within the organisation, then you need to partner with them. Again, they may need some training or development. At the very least, you need to consult and collaborate with them on the best ways to achieve success. Even if you do not recognise Trade Unions, you may have employees who are members of a Union. Those employees will want advice and support from their Union and if you are aware of such a link, then you may want to inform the relevant Union of your intentions and the (positive) impact you are intending. In my experience, relationships with Trade Unions work much better where the Union is considered as a partner with the business. Everyone is (or should be) aiming for the same goal – fulfilled, engaged and happy employees.
The most important player
The lynch pin to all of this effort is, of course, the employee him/herself. You can implement as many positive practices as possible but if the employee does not engage with you, then you cannot force that to happen.
In my experience (and reinforced by recent research), there are relatively few actively disengaged employees. These are the ones who are seeking other employment and who are taking every opportunity to give negative views of your business.
It is far more likely that your workforce is largely made up of people who come to work every day, do an “OK” job and are not really terribly interested. They may take another job elsewhere if the opportunity arises, but they are not actively seeking a change and may stay with you, jogging along, for years. Think how much your business could grow and thrive if you could catch and maintain the interest of even some of these people.
Where do we start?
The key to a positive employment culture is to actually start engaging with your employees. It sounds obvious and simple but it is, surprisingly often, the missing ingredient. You can start by telling your employees what you are trying to achieve and why – and emphasise the benefits for them. If you collaborate with them on ways and means to achieve their engagement, then it will start to happen.
If you think this article is useful and you would like any strategic HR support or information on dealing with this – or any other people-related issue in your business – please join our mailing list, or contact us for further guidance.
Jill Aburrow runs an HR strategic consultancy business – JMA HR . She provides strategic HR advice and support to businesses who want to improve loyalty, growth and profit. Jill has been a professional strategic HR advisor for over two decades. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD) and has a Post Graduate Certificate in Employment Law.