We’ve been mapping out the proven steps to employee engagement. Review the steps that got us here.
We’ve reached the end of our road map to engagement. If you’ve followed along, we’ve recommended some quick engagement fixes — and now it’s time to dig into the long-term work.
Part One: The Foundation for Your Results
At this point, there’s a lot going on; you’ll likely be juggling plans for long-term changes with new input (and maybe a little foot-dragging) from employees and leaders.
These 5 tips will help you create an engagement action plan that gets results.
1. Be Strategic
Long-term action plans — those that will take longer than 12 months — will require special employee communication. Companies are generally good at communicating to employees about other long-term business strategies, such as growth plans. But when it comes to engagement, leaders tend to drop the ball a little bit.
Integrate your engagement action plan with your organization’s other plans and priorities, and communicate with employees about it in a similar way. Identify priorities, show employees how your plan aligns with other business strategies, and update employees as the plan changes over time.
2. Keep Surveying
Once you get your baseline engagement data and start focusing on a longer-term goal, keep checking in with employees to ensure you’re on the right track. Pulse surveys are perfect for keeping your long-term goals and plans relevant and effective. There’s no need to redo the original survey frequently; simply asking two or three questions about how your efforts are going can give you insights.
3. Use Your Influence
One of the issues HR leaders may run into while setting long-term plans is pushback from other company leaders regarding resources or timelines. You may need to remind them about their buy-in from the beginning of the process, as well as the advantages increased engagement can bring.
Tie in your plan with other business strategies — such as increased engagement leading to increased productivity — to highlight its importance. You may need to do some compromising, of course; be ready to set priorities and balance with other leaders.
4. Highlight the Purpose
As you make changes, encourage managers and leaders to talk about how these changes are part of engagement efforts. Keep any announcements about changes tied to the original goal you communicated earlier and remind the organization that the work everyone is doing is connected to something bigger.
5. Don’t Stop
There’s always something new affecting culture, productivity and performance at your organization. Changing business conditions, changes in leadership and new hires can continually change engagement levels — and because of that, your engagement efforts can’t stop.
It’s easy for leaders to think the engagement work is over after the first round of surveying and changes, but dynamic organizations never stop changing and improving.
It’s helpful to compare engagement efforts to the work you do managing customers. Your company would never think that it was done finding opportunities for current and future customers; it’s the same with engagement. There’s always more you can do to fine-tune and improve the work you’re doing.
Part Two: How to Cultivate Accountability[clickToTweet tweet=”Accountability: Without it, not much gets done in the workforce.” quote=”Accountability: Without it, not much gets done in the workforce.”]
That goes double for any action plan you put together for your engagement initiative. People at all levels need to know what’s expected of them and what they should be doing at every step on the road map to engagement.
Here’s what you need to know in order to continue to create circumstances for highly accountable, engaged workers.
Set Expectations with Human Resources
HR leaders often serve as the point person for an engagement initiative. As the point person, the HR leader will be responsible for designing and facilitating a process that equips others to be clear on their own accountability. HR leaders should clearly communicate about the engagement process — the goals, the surveys, and the work that needs to be done.
Have Leaders Show Priority
People at this level have the power to make engagement efforts a priority for their teams and employees. Their responsibilities will be to equip managers with the tools they’ll need to improve engagement and set the expectation of what’s going to happen. [clickToTweet tweet=”It’s a leader’s responsibility to make it clear just how important engagement is to the business.” quote=”It’s a leader’s responsibility to make it clear just how important engagement is to the business.”]
Make Engagement a Reality with Managers
This level is where engagement ideas become reality. Once the priorities and expectations have been established, managers make it happen. Throughout the engagement process, they’re responsible for putting into action any changes that need to be made, and then reporting back about the results they’ve seen or feedback they’ve heard.
They’re accountable both to leaders and employees, and so they need to be empowered as much as possible to make decisions about changes on the fly that can help boost engagement. This can be difficult in an organization that may have relied on strict top-down management. But with the influence managers have on the engagement levels of the entire organization, trusting them to make the right decisions can have a profound ripple effect.
Map Out the Employee Experience
It can be easy to think that employees are accountable only for giving feedback to managers and leaders about ongoing engagement efforts. But it’s vital that they understand that they need to consider the level of effort they’re giving to their organization.
Encourage them to assess their own feelings and attitudes about their work, and whether they feel aligned with the organization. Holding them accountable for their work and helping make the organization a better place is an important part of any engagement effort.
A strong engagement action plan includes an understanding of the employee experience, including a process for gathering feedback, assessing the data and making changes based on new insights.
Part Three: Common Pitfalls to Avoid
Creating an action plan is one of the most critical steps on the road map to engagement. Unfortunately, it’s also a step where many organizations make a crucial mistake: too many companies feel like they can take a break once they’ve surveyed employees, as if the survey is actually the goal.
Others are excited to put work into an action plan, but then are so taken aback by the survey results they become paralyzed with indecision on how to proceed.
Here are 4 critical steps to help you put together an action plan—the most important part of your engagement initiative—including how to avoid some of the most common mistakes made during this process.
1. Revisit Your Strategy
When you set your engagement goal and planned your overall engagement strategy, you thought about what you needed to know and why you needed to know it. Once you have your survey results, don’t fail to revisit how well your goal matches up with reality. All of that information will go into how you shape your action plan. What new insights did you get about your workplace from your survey?
As you build your action plan, be sure you don’t try to do too much at once. It can be tempting to address all the issues uncovered by your survey, but it’s crucial that you develop an achievable action plan that doesn’t take months to come to fruition. There will be plenty of time to address all the information you got from the survey; follow the process instead of trying to improve everything in one fell swoop.
2. Follow Established Processes
Crafting your action plan doesn’t have to be intimidating. Chances are you already have a normal business goal-setting process in your company, and it’s a great framework for building your action plan. Ensuring your action plan conforms to your company’s culture will help make success more likely, so follow some of the processes you already have in place when drawing up your action plan.
When designing your action plan, remember it needs to integrate or leverage your performance management system. Someone has to take action, and they need to be held accountable, and chances are you already have those things built into your performance management process. You don’t want to have something that’s too independent from the way you do the rest of your business, otherwise it can, and will, get lost.
3. Work Quickly
When you’re making changes in your workplace to improve engagement, act fast. After all, part of the value is having real-time insights on your workforce.
Once you’ve surveyed your employees, the speed and commitment you give to making change will have a big influence on whether it’s successful. If there’s an engagement issue, employees will be encouraged if they see you’re committed to making a change — and they’ll lose heart if there’s no action.
4. Listen to Feedback
Now that you’ve started making changes, how do you know it’s doing what you want it to do? Ask for and listen to feedback — just like you did at the start of your road map. Short pulse surveys get a snapshot of how people are feeling about progress and identify tweaks to your action plan.
Browse our full library of road map to engagement posts to start your route to engagement.
We’re sharing the steps on the road map to engagement. Check out Steps 1-4 here.
Remember that you’ll probably get some uncomfortable truths in survey results. There will be people who want to trumpet the “good” results and disown or deny the unfavorable ones, but it’s up to HR to be a fair witness to the truth of the survey.
There may be pushback from leaders who don’t want to believe the results, who insist that the survey didn’t include the right questions, or who say the results were affected by a bad quarter. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting to use that data. [clickToTweet tweet=”Numbers don’t lie: What you have is what you need to work with.” quote=”Numbers don’t lie: What you have is what you need to work with.”]
Part Four: Best Practices for High Performance Cultures
Once you’ve gathered the results from your employee engagement survey, it’s time to decide what you’re going to do in response to your data. This is one of the most critical moments along your road map to engagement — it will take some courage, resolve and commitment to keep your momentum. Don’t panic — this is where the best work happens!
Here are some of the top tips and secrets we’ve compiled that can help you on your ongoing engagement journey.
1. Break It Down
When you get the results, it can be tempting to jump right in and start fixing things, but a haphazard approach is the last thing you need right now. Instead, dig into the numbers a little bit to determine what the overall themes are. Look at results by length of tenure, gender, race, location, business unit, and so on — data can look different when you put a comparative analysis on it.
2. Focus on the Middle
Your first results are likely to have some variation on favorable, neutral and unfavorable responses. Take a moment to revel in what you’re doing right — it can help inform your action plan down the line.
And while your next impulse may be to turn your attention to the unfavorable responses and start performing triage, keep in mind that your easier and more immediate opportunities are those in the middle. Neutral responders aren’t entrenched in negative perceptions, and can help pull your results toward the “favorable” column through easy tweaks. “Indifferent” responders are easier to move than those who are actively unhappy.
3. Watch the Clock
We’ve talked about how one of the biggest mistakes you can make during an engagement initiative is to not follow through on the results. Once you get the results, the clock is ticking, and employees are expecting you to act.
While change and decision-making cultures vary across organization, a good general rule is to take two to three weeks for your survey campaign, a week or two to dig into the results, and then another week or two to work with company leadership to identify what the next steps are. Once you start going over 30 days past getting the results without an announcement regarding an action plan, interest and willingness to change will take a dive.
4. Be Flexible
Remember that goal you set? It’s entirely possible the results you’ve gotten send you off into an entirely different direction. Be ready to adjust and modify your approach depending on the results.
Making an action plan is a crucial step on your road map to engagement, so stay strong and trust the process to work through the next steps toward your engagement goal.
There’s no doubt that an engagement initiative takes a lot of work. Getting buy-in from company leaders, writing and administering a survey and assembling the results aren’t easy. But creating and implementing an engagement action plan — the steps your organization will take to make engagement happen — can seem overwhelming, and it’s where many engagement initiatives fail.
If you find engagement scores are much lower than expected, or your culture needs more work than expected, it’s easy to lose courage and conviction when it’s time to take action. Here are three tips to keep the momentum going and focus on action after an engagement survey.
5. Break Down Your Results
It can be paralyzing to discover that your organization is facing a crisis of engagement. But no matter what you find, you may wonder where you should start making changes — or you may feel that the problem is too great to solve. It may even be tempting to blame others or point fingers in an effort to avoid change.
Try to drop the emotion from the process and focus on efforts and effects. A simple nine-box matrix can help you identify the high-, middle- and low-effort actions you can take to improve engagement and compare them with the high-, middle- and low-impact effects those actions would have.
Some companies get fired up about taking on tough issues first and really want to dig in to problems that make take months to resolve. And it’s true, some changes will take longer — but focusing on a long-term problem, no matter the payoff, shouldn’t be your first priority. Instead, look for the easy wins that will show employees you take their concerns seriously and are willing to make changes now, even as you prepare to approach long-term problems strategically
6. Keep Cultivating Accountability
Without accountability in the equation, it’s difficult to get any action going. To ensure results, make a plan for holding employees, managers and leaders accountable for action steps after the engagement survey. Assigning accountability can be a painful process, but it’s worth it if you really want to make change happen.
Even if you assign action steps at the enterprise or department head level, you still need to assigned each step to a person or team to ensure they’re completed. Managers must be held accountable for actions to boost engagement among their direct reports. And through it all, it’s important to remember that you’re not setting up a culture of blame; you’re instilling a sense of responsibility among everyone that engagement is up to them.
7. Understand the Stakes
When you review the results of an engagement survey, you have a lot of options. Doing nothing is not one of them. That’s why building an action plan is such a critical moment on the roadmap to engagement. When the organization took the initiative to survey employees, it established an understanding that it would do something with the results. If organizational leaders pull back from action, they disenfranchise employees and risk creating a culture that’s exactly opposite of what they had hoped for.
It’s the responsibility of HR leaders to keep others on track if they find that the post-survey discussions aren’t leading to action and accountability. Look for the easy wins, set your sights on longer-term projects and encourage others to move toward the organization’s engagement goals.
It’s the responsibility of HR leaders to keep others on track if they find that the post-survey discussions aren’t leading to action and accountability.
Look for the easy wins, set your sights on longer-term projects and encourage others to move toward the organization’s engagement goals.
Stop Guessing, Start Knowing
“Engaged organizations are high-performance organizations, and that’s why all leaders — not just HR leaders — should integrate a continuous employee feedback program into their business processes.” – Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO
At Talmetrix, we’ve learned that the most successful organizations are talent-focused organizations. And, by being talent-focused, these organizations put themselves in a position to generate greater business outcomes.
Request a demo of Talmetrix to learn more about how your company can measure and facilitate employee engagement, capture team feedback and map relationships between employees. Then use that data to improve retention, build a better culture, and boost performance and productivity.
Email the Solutions Advisor team at firstname.lastname@example.org Call the Solutions Advisor team at (513) 399-6301.
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