The ability to achieve a perfect score in a scenario such as an employee engagement survey lies in the strength of agreement to key indicator questions. By strength of agreement I mean choosing 'strongly agree' as oppose to just 'agree', and the difference between being classified as engaged rather than passive. It’s essentially the difference between like and love.
The measures of a survey of this kind are quite tough and for an employee to 'strongly agree' to most questions (which are positively phrased statements), you must be doing something right. It matters as key indicator questions are engagement drivers such as feeling valued, and are not only asked by you the company (internally) but also in polls such as the one carried out by Indeed.com (externally).
Lauren Sonnernberg, a student at Northwestern University, recently wrote an article published online by Forbes on companies that employees love. The article was based on research administered by job site ‘Indeed.com’, titled ‘Which Companies Get The Most Love From Their Employees’.
15 million employees world-wide anonymously reviewed their company or companies they had worked for and the results prompted Paul Darcy, Vice President at Indeed.com, to say this:
‘“We are seeing people describe these exemplary workplaces as ‘inspiring’ and ‘engaging’ by maintaining excellent company culture, ensuring quality leadership, and offering competitive pay and benefits.”
Results of polls like the one carried out by Indeed.com are often published and can positively or negatively influence a company’s brand, reputation and job seekers decision- especially when they are faced with a choice about who they should work for.
So, what can be done to improve the strength of agreement? There are many suggestions however there’s one I’ve found that’s quite key:
Employees don’t quit their companies: they quit their bosses
You may have come across this quote before. This quote brings the relationship element to leadership/companies and at the same time emphasises the importance of good management and leadership practice. Strong relationships build trust, increases recognition and could ultimately directly affect engagement levels. This is also what Darcy was referring to in his statement referenced earlier.
Consultants at WoodReed published a white paper titled 'I Love My Manager'. This report creates a pretty strong argument about the role that managers play in increasing employee engagement, why ‘love’ creates the difference between engaged or not and the influence strong engagement has on brand identity.
Jo Moffat, concluded the report by saying
“One of the strongest ways to create an engaged employee – even stronger than remuneration – is through a positive relationship with their line manager. Great line managers know that by improving the lives of their employees, they’ll also improve bottom line results.”
I like the link here to productivity, and that engagement is not just the fluffy side of HR.
It’s quite apparent that the same conclusions can be made when looking at the customer loyalty. Customers who tend to be loyal 'love' the brand even through difficult times or they are more forgiving and will still buy their product, as described here by Branding Strategy Insider.
What I’ve learned from the various articles is that improving the strength of agreement is achievable. It may take a while for employees to move from being classified as passive to engaged, however we’re encouraged that passive employees can be viewed as opportunities for companies to improve perceptions of the company. There are some quick wins and starting points to help such as better manager to peer relationship and creating an inspiring culture.