Article: Now’s the time to get smart about employee engagement

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Able and How MD Paul Arnold and Consultant Chris Briggs outline in this article an approach to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your engagement strategy

Twenty years have passed since the notion of ‘employee engagement’ was first introduced to managers.  Since then there has been much debate and testing around the concept, both among academics and practitioners.  Different definitions still abound, but one fundamental idea appears to have taken hold: that improved employee engagement (however one may define it) has the potential to improve bottom-line business performance. 

As we enter the slow recovery from recession, leaders continue to focus on two things: how to do more with less, and how to keep hold of their most talented people as the jobs market recovers. For many organisations, employee engagement represents at least part of the answer to these two questions.

As a result, engagement is now mentioned in many annual reports and measured, reported and acted upon as part of operational strategy.  In other words, employee engagement has become a visible strategic priority – but in this economy, not one that leaders are prepared to pursue at any cost.

With this in mind, Able and How has been looking closely at how employee engagement theory is applied strategically across a range of public and private sector organisations. 

What we found were four factors that were critical to the efficient and effective allocation of organisational resources to the improvement of employee engagement levels: 

       1)     Having a clear strategic mandate and high level objectives for employee engagement
       2)     Cross-functional coordination
       3)     Understanding and acting on the drivers of engagement
       4)     Ongoing evaluation of the overall approach

Together these illustrate an approach that can increase the return on your organisation’s investment in employee engagement.  Our observations also revealed that, based on these factors, most organisations are not approaching employee engagement in the most efficient or effective way. 

So there is plenty of opportunity here.  With so many competitors expending resources on the pursuit of employee engagement, in such a tight and uncertain economy, how your organisation does this is quickly becoming a question of competitive advantage in itself.

Able and How have developed our observations into a detailed road map for efficient and effective employee engagement.  This can be used to audit existing engagement practices or to guide the implementation or repositioning of your employee engagement strategy.

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