There are many ways to address employee engagement in a company. HR Professionals often have their own definition of what engagement means for them, however to their employees, it can mean something as simple as social activities, rewards or recognition. Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte Josh Bersin says “The word ‘engagement’ often limits our thinking. It assumes that our job is to reach out and ‘engage’ people, rather than build an organisation that is exciting, fulfilling, meaningful, and fun.” So how can organisations create an environment that embodies these traits?
Foundations need to be laid out and communication needs to take place, ensuring that your employees are taken on the journey as your organisation transforms. But if we take a step back, the first thing that HR professionals need to formulate to maximise employee engagement is company values. In today’s increasingly competitive market to attract and retain top talent, relating to employees through the values an organisation stands for is key. In this article we cover the importance of company values in boosting employee engagement.
Whether we are aware of it or not, every individual has their own set of values that define the way they interact with others every day. A person who takes care to be on time might value punctuality, whereas someone who is constantly striving to learn new things would value knowledge. Corporate values are the embodiment of its employees’ values applied to an organisation. Corporate values form the essence of the company’s identity, guiding their actions and strategies to empower their employees and customers. A core company value of trust, for example, will mean that a customer can trust their provider to maintain compliance standards and protect their information. The organisation aligns itself with this value, hence its customers can expect that type of behaviour from its interactions with that organisation.
When employees identify strongly with that a company stands for, engagement follows. “Engagement is about how connected and committed are you to the success of the organisation you work for,” Charmaine Loratet, Ascender’s People and Culture Director, states. Company core values give employees a guide in their day-to-day responses and decisions, and when they are aligned with the same values, they will be more engaged to give their best in their everyday work.
Do your employees know your values, and are they something they believe in? Sometimes the biggest barrier in linking your values to engagement is just how the values are defined. What’s the underlying meaning of your values? Where do they come from? What do they mean to your employees? Clearly defining your core values is the first step in making that connection between the values and your employees.
Senior leaders need to lead by example when it comes to values, using them as their moral compass when it comes to their everyday interaction with customers and their teams. Leaders should be the first to commit and embody these values in order to lead the way. All strategies should always be tied to the company values in order to make the foundation stronger, with rewards and recognition being a good place to start. It’s a small part of employee engagement, but linking this to the values will help employees feel the connection between the two.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when harnessing company values to boost employee engagement, so we’ve provided three overarching tips that HR professionals can utilise to succeed when marrying up engagement with their values:
Repetition is key when it comes to company values, so it’s crucial that HR use every opportunity of the employee lifecycle to communicate them. Company values must have space in every stage of an employee’s contact with the company, whether it’s recruitment, onboarding, coaching, learning and development, reward and recognition, and even off-boarding. In recruitment, for example, it can be as simple as having a set of questions linked to the values that helps HR assess whether the applicant is an appropriate cultural fit. Or in off boarding – linking the values to the exit interviews and feedback forms will help HR to extract relevant data that can affect future engagement strategies.
Organisations employ talent across different generations and cultures, and there are distinct differences that affect how companies should engage their talent. People are motivated by different means, so it’s important to listen and learn about the characteristics of each segment of your workforce. For example, millennials are more highly motivated by flexible working hours and have fully embraced social media. On the other hand, Generation X or the Baby Boomers may not have the same sentiment, and instead be motivated by work-life balance, or financial rewards. That’s not to say that we should have a separate strategy for each group, but it’s important to personalise your employee’s experience based on their demographic fit.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and the same goes for engagement. One way to measure is through ongoing pulse surveys, with the frequency depending on where the engagement level of the company sits at that time, or how high employee engagement is in comparison to the overarching goals of the organisation. Another metric to determine employee engagement is becoming an Employer of Choice, which is a powerful way to attract and retaining talent. To do this, organisations need to focus on investing in their people, vision, purpose, work/life balance and strong relationships across business levels.
By getting the values right at the foundation level, businesses can expect to see an aligned increase in customer satisfaction. Prospective clients are now interested not just in the technical capability of engaging their suppliers, but how their values align with their own, and whether they are a relevant fit from that perspective. Some questions they might consider are “Is this company stable? Do they have a good retention rate? Do they have values similar to ours?” By ensuring that an organisations values are communicated and delivered from the inside out, employee engagement can be sure to increase alongside your bottom line.