Employee Engagement’s Ultimate End Goal? It’s to Transform the Culture

I’ve written before that employee engagement isn’t an “initiative” and it most certainly isn’t a “survey.”

Yes, surveys and planning are part of the process, but the end goal is to create a culture in which employees want to engage, not just repeatedly survey to see the status of engagement levels.

I was pleased to see Gallup back up my position in a recent Gallup Business Journal article, Three Strategies for Making Employee Engagement Stick:

The ultimate goal of any engagement effort must be to transform the culture, so the primary goal of a company’s engagement efforts should not be creating an impact plan. An impact plan is a starting point, not a destination. It should serve as an instrument that documents best intentions that team members will act on to boost their engagement. Leaders, managers, and team members who integrate engagement into how they think, speak, and act will successfully boost and sustain engagement.”

Aligning the culture with guiding principles

That last sentence is the critical point – all participants in your company’s culture (which is everyone) don’t just need to know about your engagement efforts or goals, they need to change their daily behaviors to align.

Another Gallup Business Journal article, Getting Employees to Act on Your Brand Promise, tells us more on why this is important.

Even talented employees will stumble if your culture isn’t aligned with your guiding principles. Everyone — from senior leadership to front-line employees — needs to know those principles and understand how they inform employee behavior.”

If your company brand is important to you, getting this right is even more critical. This article goes on to point out:

‘Behaving the brand’ means the company will do whatever it takes to deliver on its brand promise. Every product and facility detail — and every employee act — must exemplify that promise, whether it’s quality, fast service, customer care, or low prices. Employees must execute brand and service behaviors consistently, and frequent reminders help employees understand and internalize these behaviors.”

I think we can all agree on that. It’s the “how” that can be the challenge.

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Recognizing the right behaviors

For employees to “execute brand and service behaviors consistently,” help them understand what those behaviors look like in what they do every day. And no, don’t send out a memo or hold a meeting. Far more effective is recognizing them very specifically every time they demonstrate those behaviors.

Best of all, getting this right matters to employee engagement. The first Gallup article I referenced above also says, “Managers report significant improvement when using these strategies on these engagement items:

  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  • At work, my opinions seem to count.
  • The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  • I have a best friend at work.
  • This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.”

It’s hard to argue with results like that.

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.


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