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Serious About People?

Article posted 15th September 2015Engagement News

So it’s that time of the year again. The annual employee engagement survey, aimed to find out how colleagues really feel about working in your organisation. You want to know year-on-year changes to engagement, so you cannot change too many questions. You want to know what actions departments across your organisation have been undertaking since the last survey. You also want to ensure everyone knows the importance of the survey and the need to complete it, as well as stressing the anonymity element, allowing all colleagues to be as honest as possible.

Let’s look at this from the colleagues’ perspective. Yes, they completed the survey. What happened? It became a big issue that culminated in a list of actions that were going to be implemented as a result. Great, except the actions could have been written despite the survey data, as they probably bore little correlation to it. The result? Well, who can tell?

How did managers react to their results? Well, let’s just say, to quote a line from ‘A Few Good Men’, ‘you can’t handle the truth’ might be apt. Behaviours of managers as a result of the survey were enough to show you that you can’t really share how you feel, without a witch-hunt of who said what and why! Oh, and then there’s that famous phrase of ‘people are our greatest asset’!

After the anguish of the survey, with the pressure of ensuring everyone completes it (with managers receiving daily response rates to ensure targets are met), then comes the painful wait for the results. 6 months later when you cannot remember how you voted, let alone relate to the results, you are hit in the face with the outcome. Now comes the huge focus on every department having to record an action plan of how they are going to improve engagement for their teams…so what happens? Nothing. Nothing is mentioned about engagement again, until the HR business partners want updates. Finally, a hastily organised meeting to review the actions, results in some updates added to the tracker. Phew!

You may be critical of my over-the-top description of what might be going on. But let’s face it, engagement has become yet another task across many organisations, losing the point of what it is all about. People are your greatest asset right? Well if that’s the case, what would you be doing to demonstrate this? Brain drain is happening in every organisation. Skills and talent are being lost because people don’t feel listened to, involved, and with almost a Taylorist approach to work, people are being put into such specialised roles, they are being almost deskilled, and losing any motivation or passion for their jobs. If people mattered, why wouldn’t you want to hear how they would do things? Why wouldn’t you want to use their skills and experience to change things for the better across your organisation? Why would trust be an issue where colleagues are trusted with information and responsibility?

How are your leaders engaging your people? How are they involving and exciting them in the vision and strategy of the organisation? How are they setting the standard in behaviours aligned to those you value most? How are people being developed across the whole organisation?

Engagement matters. People matter. It’s time to take the engagement of your people more seriously and not let engagement become yet another task to be ticked off the list across your organisation. It all boils down to one question, what will you do with your next survey, use it as an opportunity to add real value, or tick a box until next year?

Posted by Amrit Sandhar

Amrit Sandhar is the founder of The Engagement Coach. He started a career in healthcare as a qualified Pharmacist, where he went on to oversee half of the UK’s Pharmacy and Optical units for Walmart’s UK operation, Asda. Having successfully worked in the healthcare sector, Amrit went on to head up Employee Engagement for Asda, before taking up a role with the prestigious Sunday Times Best Companies organisation, working at boardroom level, helping organisations improve their employee engagement. Amrit is a qualified executive coach with an Advanced Certificate in Leadership and Executive Coaching with the Bristol Business School (ILM level 7 qualified in Executive Coaching & Leadership Mentoring). He is also a Walmart accredited AIM change trainer, Strengthscope accredited consultant, NLP Master Practitioner and has a CIPD Advanced Diploma (Level 7) in HRM/HRD.