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Establishing an Employee Engagement Committee

If your organization has declared that employee engagement is a top business objective, then it should also assemble an employee engagement committee. This committee, which will consist of 10 to 20 people (depending on the size of your company), should have a clear charter to evaluate and prioritize employee engagement survey results, with an ultimate goal of increasing employee engagement, boosting innovation, improving the firm's culture, and even changing company policies. The committee's "deliverable" is a list of specific engagement recommendations for leadership.

Here are a few other points to keep in mind:

  • The committee should be composed of members of senior leadership, as well as a cross-sectional group of high-performing employees. A 50-50 split is advisable. This will demonstrate upper management's commitment to the cause. A mix of leaders will also provide a reality check against a focus on "employee satisfiers," such as free coffee, improved benefits, and extra vacation time. (Remember: "Employee engagement" is not the same thing as "employee satisfaction"!)

  • The committee should be ongoing, but its membership should rotate. Set "term limits" of two years, with half the team rotating each year to ensure continuity. (At the committee's outset, half the committee will serve just a single year, with the balance of the committee committing to two years.)

  • Populate the committee with people who are excited to take part. Ideal appointees are those who self-identify as being passionate about engagement, who are enthused about being on the committee, and who don't look at their appointment as "one more thing to do." (Of course, they have to receive the endorsement of their leader!)

  • Give the committee teeth. It needs the authority to make decisions and act on them. Including a mixture of highly respected members of the leadership team will ensure that issues needing a rubber stamp are hastened onto the appropriate desk.

  • Create opportunities for the full committee to get leadership "face time." This is a great way to reward their efforts, and will help ensure that it remains a business improvement committee — not a social committee.

  • Ensure that the committee is diverse. You want geographic, generational (including Gen Y), operational, and cultural diversity, as well as people who've been with the company for years and people who are relatively new hires.

  • Brand your committee internally and externally. On your company's intranet and website, promote the committee's charter, the names of committee members, and any committee recommendations that are adopted.

An employee engagement committee is not your social committee — the one you assemble to plan the year-end holiday party, manage the company softball league, or host the company picnic. In fact, if you include these activities in this committee's charter, you'll diminish the committee's importance.

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