The two priorities for engagement

Posted on February 3, 2011

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So, in response to some feedback I thought I’d adapt this post.

I’ve been trying in my mind to reduce priorities down for engagement to just two key areas that any organisation should focus on.

The first I settled on was counselling. And I’m using counselling as a conceptual term. Some of the most rewarding sessions I run for employees and teams are those when the participants just get to talk – to share – to get it off their chests. Too often team awaydays and conferences are so preoccupied with getting a result and reaching a decision they ride roughshod over the need to listen.

Every employees are exposed to pressures which vary enormously. It’s either going brilliantly well in which case they need to learn to live with the success, or it’s going awfully in which case they need to talk about turning it round, or it’s not really moving anywhere. In fact, according to the CIPD stress is the second biggest cause of workplace absence for non-manual workers and yet only a third of employers have an employee well-being strategy in place.

Now I’m not proposing that all employees need to be exposed an an employee well-being strategy, far from it, but that the act of focusing on listening to employees talk about methods for improving the way they do their jobs and what is working well and isn’t can be part of a more holistic approach to well-being i.e. well-being is improved when employee views on work are listened to.

The second priority I have been thinking about is conditioning. Again, not literal physical conditioning, but get capability fit. That means settling on one single focus – one goal that you want to achieve – and then making sure that every word; every act of training; every morsel of reward gets tied to it. Condition the body and create the conditions in which that goal can be achieved. Stop everything else. Condition the environment around people; the communication they receive; the skills training provided, condition it all to achieve that goal.

Interestingly, CIPD data again illustrates that what employees want most is security. What feeds that feeling of security is most interesting, and that is not pay. It’s recognition that their employer is investing in them – building, developing and creating the conditions whereby they can perform.

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