Engaging Stuff

From time to time I come across interesting articles posted on news website, HR Daily.  An article that recently caught my eye was:  Engage like you should eat, posted by Philippa Youngman, Director of HR  for technology company Pivot Software.  At first I was curious about the title, but soon the central message of the article struck me as crucial; that is:

Engagement is most effectively influenced through a simple approach grounded in common sense, driven largely by managers through their day-to-day interactions with members of their team.

To me engagement is simply the extent to which someone is committed to the organization and passionate about striving to achieve its objectives.  Therefore, each and every one of the moments that someone experiences at work have the potential to individually or collectively influence the strength of his or her engagement. It’s crucial not to lose sight of the things that really matter, the things that ultimately have the greatest impact on these moments and therefore engagement.

While “simple” doesn’t mean easy, it does mean uncomplicated and pragmatic.  Equally there must be strong focus on implementation; making sure that things actually happen and get done.   All too often I observe organizations struggling to shift engagement due to an over emphasis on either HR programs or complex theoretical models.  This focus is often coupled with a naive belief that once ‘rolled out’ to managers the program or model will magically do its thing and results will be achieved.  In practice, what enables any HR initiative to add any value at all are the commitment and capabilities of managers who take them out of the HR toolkit and put them into practice.

Throughout her article Philippa references the Aon Hewitt report “Your pathway to improving employee engagement,” in which they conclude that best practice comes down to three factors:

  • Doing it every day
  • Making it every manager’s job
  • Sticking to the basics and avoiding an overreliance on process and systems

The keys to success offered in this article can be summarized as:

  • Hold HR, managers, senior leaders and the executive team equally accountable
  • Build awareness of what drives engagement
  • Drive from the top
  • Focus on the major influencer – the direct manager
  • Stick to the basics – do them consistently and well
  • Avoid “over reliance on HR systems, process and frameworks as the sole method for improving engagement.”

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