How HR Leaders Can Get the Most Out of Their Engagement Efforts

If you’re a human resources executive, there’s a good chance maintaining or improving employee engagement is on your list of your department’s 2015 goals.

To help you get the most out of your employee engagement efforts in 2015, I suggest taking these three (3) steps:

1. Start with well-defined, specific business goals

You don’t just work on employee engagement for the sake of improving employee engagement. You work on employee engagement as a means to drive other business goals.

To make your engagement efforts a success, start with a clear understanding of those business goals. Do you want to:

  • Increase retention?
  • Boost productivity?
  • Improve performance?
  • Strengthen your corporate culture?

All of those goals are good ones and may be important to your organization, but you’ll have to prioritize the outcomes that are most important in 2015, because creating a strategy for each will be labor intensive. You may not have enough time and resources to make progress on all of them.

2. Be sure you’re measuring the right things

Measurement is essential to charting your progress toward any goal, and it’s vital to measure the right things from start to finish. The goals you set will determine what you should be measuring.

For example, if you’re focusing on increasing retention, you’ll want to understand job satisfaction drivers such as pay, benefits, leadership and work environment. But if you’re focusing on culture, you’ll want to focus on a different mix of factors such as commitment, relationships, communication and leadership.

Make sure you’re measuring the things you’re trying to improve. Ask yourself: Will what I’m measuring help me to be better informed about my goal?

3. Take meaningful action

Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish and have measured where you’re at, it’s time to do something about it. To achieve your goals, you have to take meaningful action.

Too often, organizations will survey employees about engagement and stop there. This can harm the organization whether survey results are positive or negative.

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When leaders solicit and receive employee feedback, then never report back to people about the results, it’s the same as requesting payment for something, receiving the money, but delivering nothing in return. Employees who take the time and effort to share their thoughts and then never hear anything more can lose trust.

To keep that trust and make real progress, as soon as you have the survey results in hand you need to share them with employees and thank them for their help.

Then you need to get busy doing something meaningful with those results — starting by examining them and deciding what you need to stop, start or modify to help drive engagement in your organization. Ask yourself: How do we apply these results to modify the way we manage our internal programs, policies or practices?

If you’re thinking you have no idea how to apply the information you gather from employees to make a positive change in engagement, you’re not alone. Many companies find themselves in that position. The ones that achieve their goals are the ones who don’t let it slow them down.

Move ahead slowly

Start small. Experiment with different changes and measure the results.

There may be unintended consequences or things might not work the way you hoped, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Even errors will help you learn more and move you closer to your goal.

Chris Powell is the CEO of BlackbookHR, a software company on a mission to create more engaged and connected workplaces and communities. He previously served as executive vice president of human resources for Scripps Networks Interactive (HGTV, DIY, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel, et al.), as vice president of human resources for the global financial services company ING, and in various corporate HR roles at Marriott International.

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