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Putting People First: What is the Subtext of your Engagement Initiatives?

Patrick Steed is Inspire Me’s 'Champion of Excellence'. He joined the team in 2010 and has been crucial in shaping the business into the company it is today.

His positive energy and determination makes him an incredible trainer and speaker, consistently delivering to our clients an amazing return on investment. He has risen through ranks to become one of Inspire Me’s leaders, involved in sales, training and strategy.

 

How do people define engagement?  

It seems like everyone has their own definition.

It’s different in every business and for some businesses it’s non-existent! 

We speak to lots of people at business and engagement conferences across the UK.

It’s amazing the range of interpretation this subject has.

For some, engagement is a staff survey that goes out once a year to check how everyone is feeling. For others, it’s initiatives – flexible working, free fruit in the office, dress down Fridays.

Some people think engagement is making people happy all the time.

For the more business-focused and task oriented – engagement is a tool to achieve greater productivity, reduce sickness, increase sales, improve customer satisfaction, smash targets and ultimately make more profit.

And yes – all of these things have a place under the giant umbrella of Engagement! However, engagement is not a tick box! It can’t be completed in one step.

It won’t look and feel in the same in every organisation. 

What is engagement?

Engagement is a positive two-way connection between a person and the company they work for.

The company chooses to value their people, listen to their opinions, offer opportunities to connect with others, to grow, be rewarded and share in the success of the company.

The company provides a clear vision, mission and strong values their people can choose to align with.

In return, a person chooses to show up, get involved, be a team player, live the values and brand, rave about their company, be productive, go the extra mile and care about the company’s success. 

Let’s explore further…

People are people. Behind every manager or telesales representative – is a person with thoughts and feelings and values and fears and strengths and weaknesses and dreams and lives.

This is so important! It needs some focus! Otherwise you are only seeing the very surface level version of a person. You need to go a little deeper to really understand people.

It’s those thoughts and feelings and values and fears and dreams that drive our behaviours. Behaviour creates culture. Culture drives our business forward.

So, flexible working isn’t just about choosing the time you work.

It can mean the difference of seeing your child in their school play. It can mean getting extra rest when your exhausted. It can mean grabbing a coffee with a friend who is in town.

The company is respecting that you are a mother or father. The company is appreciating that some days you feel better than others. The company is valuing your friendships.

And in return, you are choosing to work at hours where you are energised and focused (rather than resenting that you missing out on some great life experiences).

Looking at it from this perspective – suddenly the standard “free fruit in the office” is actually showing you that your company cares about your health and well-being.

And similarly, sponsoring the local Pride event is not just marketing – it can help an LGBT person realise their company supports their sexuality. For someone who may not have been supported by family or friends – this means the world. 

Make sure your initiatives are aligned.

The key to these initiatives is to make sure you know the reason why you are doing them.

Don’t just include them because statistics show a percentage increase in productivity. Trust me – the stats will improve more if you are not completely driven by them!

If you are not clear on why you have them – they will lose their message.

For example, if a company is offering free massages one day as part of health and wellbeing but some people aren’t allowed time off work to have them you start to send very mixed signals.

You are saying ‘we want to show we care about you but we don’t.’

Similarly, a company may do an engagement survey to make sure everyone’s voices are heard… and then not action any of the feedback!!! This is worse than not doing the survey in the first place!

Taking this forward…

Work backwards.

What values do you have or do you want as a company?

Don’t just write the words on a wall and expect everyone to follow them.

Choose engagement programmes and initiatives that live those values.

Make sure everyone is aligned with their meaning and that actions outside of these initiatives support them.

Listen to your people. Connect with them and they will connect with you. 

Thanks for reading.

Written by Patrick Steed for Inspire Me.

How could you focus more on the people in your company? We'd love to know!

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