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Cheat Sheet

Employee Engagement For Dummies

From Employee Engagement For Dummies by Bob Kelleher

When you’re trying to engage your workforce, it helps to know how engaged they already are, and you can do this by conducting an employee engagement survey and acting on the results. A key way to build momentum following your survey is to draw on your engagement ambassadors — employees who are already fully engaged and committed to your company. No employee is an island — many employees have families, and you can boost employee engagement by engaging their families.

Survey Says: Conducting an Employee Engagement Survey

Are your employees engaged? Good question. And the only surefire way to answer with any accuracy is to conduct an employee engagement survey. Your organization should conduct an employee engagement survey sooner rather than later to gauge its pulse. As you embark on your survey, keep these points in mind:

  • Don't conduct a survey unless you're convinced your leadership is committed to listening and acting on feedback. Otherwise, you'll wind up fostering cynicism and skepticism, not engagement. In fact, you'll be worse off than if you hadn't conducted a survey in the first place.

  • Partner with a consulting firm. Yes, you may have the in-house resources to design and administer your own survey. But your cost savings will be overrun by the huge administrative effort, lack of credible benchmark data, and confidentiality concerns among employees.

  • Have a communication plan. Decide when and how to communicate survey results and "next steps" to senior leadership and the rank and file. Employees need to know their feedback was heard and analyzed, and that action is being taken. This will help to build trust and credibility.

  • Establish a cross-sectional committee to review overall company results and to make recommendations to management. This task team should be composed of 10 to 20 employees (depending on company size) and include an equal mix of leaders and respected members of the rank and file. Also consider establishing "local" committees to review results on a departmental level.

  • Keep it simple, and execute flawlessly. After a survey, the tendency is to overpromise and underdeliver. If you do this, however, you run the risk of creating a skeptical work culture. Better to do the opposite: underpromise and overdeliver! Organizational follow-up and follow-through are key to successful implementation — and to how your employees will judge the success of your survey and engagement efforts.

    If your employee engagement survey fails, it will be because you failed to properly interpret the results, prioritize your needs, and create action plans that you follow up on.

  • Implement a follow-up feedback mechanism. Consider having managers include a "survey action plan" agenda item in all regular departmental meetings for at least six months following the survey.

  • Do not commit to another survey for 18 to 24 months. You'll need at least that long to effectively act on the feedback from your last survey and execute your action plan. Seeing results takes time!

  • Set the stage. If you're conducting a follow-up survey, promote progress made since your last survey. View this exercise as a terrific branding opportunity — one that will enable you to capture high levels of employee participation.

Diplomatic Immunity: Identifying Your Engagement Ambassadors

You've probably heard the term brand ambassador. A brand ambassador is someone who embodies a brand and serves to promote it. Similarly, an engagement ambassador embodies engagement and serves to promote it.

Hopefully, your organization is brimming with people who might serve as brand ambassadors. These are people who are visibly engaged and committed to your organization. Identifying these individuals at the outset of any attempts to boost employee engagement is often worthwhile. After all, they're your allies!

How do you identify potential engagement ambassadors? Just look around. These employees are the ones who refer recruits to your firm. They volunteer to join your various task teams. They take part in company social events. Odds are, your managers know who these people are — ask your managers to identify them!

As invested individuals, these people already have an interest in seeing your organization succeed. Perhaps more important, they'd likely be even happier at work if everyone were as committed as they are. If they're excellent communicators, so much the better! Seek out ways to help them share your engagement message, regardless of where they fall in the corporate hierarchy.

A successful engagement strategy can turn skeptics into supporters. Having one's expectations surpassed is a powerful conversion experience. Don't ignore the unconvinced in your audience. Let the clarity and consistency of your message overwhelm their doubts. The result: an even larger army of engagement ambassadors to deploy!

All in the Family: Engaging Employees by Engaging Their Families

Spouses and other family members have a huge influence on how a person feels about his job or company. These individuals' views on the firm can make the difference between keeping a valued employee and losing that person. They can also make the difference between having an employment offer accepted or rejected. Savvy employers work to engage their employees (current and future) and their spouses!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • When an employee works late into the evening or during the weekend, send a handwritten note to the employee's spouse to thank him or her for donating family time to the firm and to emphasize the employee's critical role in accomplishing something important for the firm.

  • When an employee helps land a big contract for the firm, send the employee's spouse a handwritten thank-you note expressing your firm's appreciation for the employee's efforts.

  • When your firm gets an "atta boy" letter from a client, extolling the virtues of one of your employees, send a copy of the letter to the employee's spouse along with a handwritten thank-you note from you.

  • When making an offer to a potential employee, hand-deliver the offer letter to the person's home on your way home from work (assuming he or she is local).

  • When interviewing a potential employee from out of town, invite his or her spouse to come along. While you're at it, arrange for a local real-estate agent to show the spouse around town, including areas where they might be interested in purchasing a home.

Sure, these are small things. But they can make a huge difference!

These tips are focused on spouses. Be leery of extending such courtesies to employees' parents. (Don't laugh — many organizations are struggling with how best to politely decouple their Millennial employees from their helicopter parents!)

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