When developing engagement strategies the first step is to establish what is happening now and in the light of that determine what should happen in each of the areas described above. This means measuring levels of engagement
regularly in order to identify successes and failures and analyse any gaps between what is wanted and what is actually going on. This can be done through published surveys such as those operated by Gallup, which enable benchmarking to take place with the levels of engagement achieved in other organizations. An example of a survey is provided in the SHRM toolkit in Part 4 of this book. Alternatively, organizations can develop their own surveys to suit their circumstances. Engagement strategies can be developed under the headings of the factors affecting engagement set out
The work itself
Intrinsic motivation through the work itself, and therefore engagement, depends largely on the way in which work or jobs are designed. Hackman and Oldham (1974) identified the following characteristics of jobs that are motivating:
- required interaction;
- optional interaction;
- knowledge and skill required;
The work environment
A strategy for increasing engagement through the work environment will be generally concerned with developing a culture that encourages positive attitudes to work, promoting interest and excitement in the jobs people do and reducing stress. Lands’ End believes that staff who are enjoying themselves, who are being supported and developed, and who feel fulfilled and respected at work will provide the best service to customers. The thinking behind why the company wants to inspire staff is straightforward – employees’ willingness to do that little bit extra arises from their sense of pride in what
the organization stands for, ie quality, service and value. It makes the difference between a good experience for customers and a poor one.
The strategy also needs to consider particular aspects of the work environment, especially communications, involvement, work–life balance and working conditions. It can include policies that are concerned with building
effective relationships with people in their roles, treating individual employees fairly, recognizing their value, giving them a voice and providing opportunities for growth.
The leadership strategy should concentrate on what line managers have to do as leaders in order to play their vital and immediate part in increasing levels of engagement. This will include the implementation of learning programmes that help them to understand how they are expected to act and the skills they need to use. The programmes can include formal training (especially for potential managers or those in their first leadership role) but more impact will be made by ‘blending’ various learning methods such as e-learning, coaching and mentoring.
It should also be recognized that a performance management process can provide line managers with a useful framework in which they can deploy their skills in improving performance though increased engagement. This applies particularly to the performance management activities of role definition, performance improvement planning, joint involvement in monitoring performance, and feedback. The strategy should therefore include the steps required to make performance management more effective by increasing the commitment of managers to it and developing the skills they require.
Opportunities for personal growth
A strategy for providing development and growth opportunities should be based on the creation of a learning culture. This is one that promotes learning because it is recognized by top management, line managers and employees generally as an essential organizational process to which they are committed and in which they engage continuously. Reynolds (2004: 21) describes a learning culture as a ‘growth medium’ that will ‘encourage employees to commit to a range of positive discretionary behaviours, including learning’ and that has the following characteristics: empowerment not
supervision; self-managed learning not instruction; and long-term capacity building not short-term fixes. It will encourage discretionary learning, which Sloman (2003) believes takes place when individuals actively seek to acquire
the knowledge and skills that promote the organization’s objectives.
Specifically, the strategy should define the steps required to ensure that people have the opportunity and are given the encouragement to learn and grow in their roles. This includes the use of policies that focus on role flexibility – giving people the chance to develop their roles by making better and extended use of their talents. This means going beyond talent management for the favoured few and developing the abilities of the core people on whom the organization depends. The philosophy should be that everyone has the ability to succeed, and the aim should be to ‘achieve extraordinary results with ordinary people’. It includes using performance management primarily as a developmental process with an emphasis on personal development planning.
The strategy should also cover career development opportunities and how individuals can be given the guidance, support and encouragement they need if they are to fulfil their potential and achieve a successful career with the organization, in tune with their talents and aspirations. Finally, the strategy should include the actions required to provide men and women of promise with a sequence of learning activities and experiences that will equip them for whatever level of responsibility they have the ability to reach.
Opportunities to contribute
Providing people with the opportunity to contribute is not just a matter of setting up formal consultative processes, although they can be important. It is also about creating a work environment that gives people a voice by encouraging them to have their say, and emphasizes as a core value of the organization that management at all levels must be prepared to listen and respond to any contributions their people make.
Organizational engagement and commitment strategy
An organizational engagement and commitment strategy will be concerned with both strategic goals and values. The components of the strategy may include initiatives to increase involvement and ‘ownership’, communication,
leadership development, developing a sense of excitement in the job, and developing various HR policy and practice initiatives designed to enhance the employee value proposition (what the organization has to offer that employees value and that persuades them that it is ‘a great place to work’). As explained by Purcell et al (2003: 13), commitment will be increased if the organization’s vision and values are ‘embedded, collective, measured and managed’.