April 2013

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Written by Elizabeth Eyre on 1 April 2013 in Magazine

This month, we're looking at the always relevant - and contentious - subject of engagement. How do you keep employees engaged in a fast-changing, increasingly demanding and uncertain environment? How do you engage with your wider stakeholders, including your customers? There are many different answers to those questions but, recently, the role of organisations' values - authentic and congruent with employees' own - seems to have become more important.

More organisations seem to be recognising that 'incentives' such as bonuses or templated happy birthday emails may boost engagement in the short term but, for it to be sustainable and actually achieve something worthwhile, employer and employee need to connect on a much deeper level.

But how do you achieve that deeper, values-driven connection? According to Pam Jones, Jan Rabbetts and Viki Holton ("Roles and challenges" p50), managers have a vital part to play in motivating and engaging employees. They say that it doesn't matter how good an organisation's policies or procedures are on the subject of engagement, if managers aren't properly trained and fully bought in to the concept, they won't achieve anything.

Hattie Buggey highlights the importance of kindness in creating engagement - those little acts of recognition and appreciation, that we can all do, which make people feel that they and their work are important and valued ("Small acts of kindness" p33).

Values are the focus for Simon Kenwright, in his article "The value of good values" (p45). He says that organisations need to stop separating customer engagement with their brand and employee engagement with their brand, and bring them together to ensure both groups of stakeholders receive an "accurate, clearly communicated view" of what the company is all about.

Richard Moorer ("Engage for success" p41) believes that "learning is the foundation of any successful engagement strategy" and explains how integrating L&D with performance management boosts engagement by putting the employee "in the driving seat of his career".

Employees become much more engaged when they know where they're going and how they can get there, he says.

Engagement takes on a more personal - as well as a very practical - aspect in articles by Hilary Briggs and Gina Cuciniello. Briggs ("Engaging with your contacts" p17) has some very useful tips on engaging with the people you know in order to give and receive the maximum amount of value, while Cuciniello ("Get a response to your emails" p66) explains how you can make your electronic communications more engaging, so people are more likely to reply with the information you need.

Ian McDowell shows how having the wrong values can lead to an organisation's employees becoming disengaged and behaving in the wrong way ("Physician, heal thyself? p27).

Happy reading!

Elizabeth Eyre, Editor



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