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Methodology for Increasing Employee Engagement from PwC

Image illustrating planning to actionRecognize This! – Achieving increased employee engagement will remain nothing but a lofty goal without a practical approach to actually engage employees in your business goals, values and objectives.

PwC recently published a paper on corporate responsibility employee engagement, which included several good insights on the value of employee engagement as a whole and a practical methodology for driving increased engagement. In this post, I’m sharing interesting nuggets pulled from the full report, with comments on how strategically designed social recognition can help you achieve the desired end.

Why does all this matter? Aside from other research showing how increased employee engagement directly correlates to increased operating margin and sales growth, companies with reputations for cultures that encourage high employee engagement outperform peers in stock performance. PwC references a Wharton study showing organizations on the “Best Companies to Work For” list outperform peers by 2-3% per year, which is comparative to the Parnassus Fund, which tracks similar measures and shows these companies outperform the S&P 500 by 4%.

Assessing Employee Engagement Levels to Drive Business Goals

The defining difference between employee engagement and employee satisfaction is employee willingness to give discretionary effort in alignment with achieving business goals and strategic objectives. PwC has built an Employee Engagement Index (EEI) to measure precisely this. Per the report, “The EEI has shown through factor, regression and correlation analyses to link to operational and workforce metrics. Specifically, engagement is measured by asking employees the extent to which they agree with the EEI items in Figure 2.”

Figure from PwC research showing elements of employee engagement

Image credit: PwC.

Look particularly at “Alignment” and ”Pride.” These attributes in particular are directly, positively impacted by specific, frequent, and timely recognition of employee actions, behaviors or contributions – especially when every recognition is linked to a strategic objective or core value. This ensures recipients understand precisely how their daily efforts contribute to achieving the big picture.

How to Increase Employee Engagement through Plan-Do-Check-Act Method

PwC continues in the report to discuss the management method of PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) to drive increased employee engagement. Below are key excerpts from the report on each phase, along with comments on how social recognition can help.

Plan:

“As our leaders look across the operating environment and context for disruptive changes, opportunity, and performance gaps, they can create a strategic vision for the value employees really add to the company, its clients and the community— one that usually goes far beyond traditional definitions of employee value creation. These visions should be lofty, but once again, they need to resonate with staff and need to be consistent with the policies and practices of day-to-day life within the company — or those policies and practices need to be changed. This is the stuff of culture — the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” (emphasis original)

In organizations that do not already have a social recognition program in place, the first step is (as defined above) establishing what those shared values and goals are that need to be emphasized, recognized, and – critically – measured.

If social recognition is already established and designed strategically (structured to recognize in a detailed way precisely these values and goals), then analytics applied to the recognition data can reveal areas and people who are adept at living the values and contributing to the goals… and those that are not. Now organizations have much more information to understand what works where and apply those lessons learned in underperforming areas.

Do:

“Doing — implementation or execution — is the responsibility of managers who translate the leaders’ why and what into how, who, and when. The trick is to execute the plan in such a way that the varied pieces connect to form a holistic execution to avoid inconsistency and competing components. For example, do your incentive programs support the change you desire to make? Do the structures, policies and other enabling elements of your organization help or hinder your ability to make the changes you seek? This is the stuff of authenticity, where the daily actions of how business is conducted either connect employees to the company’s mission or undermine corporate strategy and communications as mere propaganda. If there is consistency, it creates a harmony where individuals see shared value in the work that is being done, beyond simply earning compensation, and want to be part of the work.”

Recognition is the direct application of “creat[ing] a harmony where individuals see shared value in the work that is being done, beyond simply earning compensation, and want to be a part of the work.” Social recognition, properly implemented, gives a secure way for employees to share the good work they see being done by others and congratulate them further on their achievements.

Check:

“Simply put, you ‘manage what you measure.’ Perhaps most important, employees want to understand the impact they are making and the success of which they are a part. Telling the story about how each individual matters and the collective force of the program is a key component of any successful program that inspires the passions of its people… Successful communication efforts are broad-based, with leaders using everything from performance evaluations to quarterly meetings to internal newsletters to consistently remind, discuss, and inspire the transformation at hand.”

Detailed and specific recognition is the most effective method to “consistently remind, discuss and inspire the transformation at hand.” Recognizing and rewarding people for doing what needs to be done to achieve that change – and publicizing these recognition moments (as appropriate) on a secure social newsfeed of recognition activity – both celebrates the direct achievements of the individual as well as serving as a powerful, ongoing (yet easy) communications mechanism.

Act:

“During the long nights of building momentum, it is crucial to keep one’s eye on the goals, measure and celebrate small wins, and continue to paint the vision of the end state alongside the current reality.”

“Celebrating small wins” on the path to success is proven to be the most powerful motivator of employee behavior, actions and results. Doing so also allows you to easily adjust the goals in line with the speed of business today.

Is your organization pursuing a path to increase employee engagement? What is the methodology you’re following? How are you facilitating that approach in the daily work of employees? How are you measuring and reporting on results?

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