Guest blog: Is employee engagement really just about good communication?


Last week I had the pleasure of talking to Pam Kennett from a company called Chiswick Consulting. They do alot of work around organisational effectiveness, and improving the way companies work.

One of the parts of our conversation, revolved around communication, and how poor it is within many companies – specifically around employee engagement. It resonated so well with me I asked if she would write a guest post on this subject, and she kindly obliged. Here is Pam’s guest blog:

It’s not engagement, it’s communication

I know I keep banging on about communication and how important it is to business success, but I was recently reminded of just HOW important with a few stunning statistics:

•    Highly engaged employees can improve business performance by up to 30 percent
•    Fully engaged employees are 2.5 times more likely to exceed performance expectations than their ‘disengaged’ colleagues.

Of course you may want to define what we mean by ‘highly’ or ‘fully’ engaged versus ‘disengaged’ but if we think about the bigger picture and potential, it’s quite amazing.

Just think what would happen to your business if your performance improved 30% with the same resources? That’s 30% on your bottom line profit is it not?

Now you may be thinking that engagement takes money and that in a recession you don’t have any money to invest. But it doesn’t have to. Engaging with employees is nothing more than keeping the lines of communication open. And given more than 1/3 of employees plan to change jobs once the recession is over, communicating with them now is likely to manage unwanted staff turnover.

An example of how communication (or ‘engagement’ if you prefer) was used to help reduce costs and raise performance is from North Dorset Council.

In 2006, North Dorset was told it had to save £2.4 million when central government slashed its budget by a quarter. You would think this would have a serious negative impact on morale and yet a recent survey found that staff felt both supported and happy. On top of this, the authority has exceeded savings targets by more than half a million pounds.

They did this by communicating and asking staff to help cut costs, prioritise investment and plan change.

Every year since 2006 the council have asked their staff to find savings in their budgets. For every £25,000 in savings they find, they save a job.

The council also went out to the public to communicate with them and had open and frank discussions about the budget situation and asked them what they thought was the best way to achieve the savings. They planned future cuts well in advance and communicated changes before they happened.
So what have we learnt from North Dorset that we can apply to our own businesses:
•    Explain where investment is being made in the business and why
•    Engage staff in cost cutting exercises – communicate cost cutting in meaningful ways (eg save £25k and you save a job)
•    If we have to make difficult changes, plan them and introduce them over time
•    If we have to cut services or product lines, focus on delivering the best quality possible and take pride in that
During tough times, it’s even more important to keep communicating with staff. In the absence of information, staff will assume the worst and all that worrying will get in the way of them delivering their job.
George Bernard Shaw said “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” In our current woes, let’s not forgot to communicate and engage with our staff.

Thanks Pam for a great article. If you want to get in contact with Pam then she can be found at [email protected] .

If you would like to be a guest blogger on Sirona Says, then please email me with your article idea – please bear in mind it has to be on topic and not an advertorial!

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