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Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals. It’s how far staff are willing to go to fulfill the customer promise. For Mikey Ellis, Cultural Strategist at Pragmatic Thinking, it’s also a relationship. “Like any relationship, there are there are boundaries, expectations, and rules of engagement. So that needs to be negotiated and agreed upon, and then each party held to account within that organization,” he explains. Mikey, who heads up Pragmatic Thinking’s presence in Melbourne, knows what it’s like to build employee engagement from the ground up. “As you know, with the rise of startups and with technology enabling people and companies to challenge the norms and the more conventional ways of working, we get to now decide how we want to work,” he says. Companies today have an increased awareness around culture. There is a focus on empowering people to use their skills and talents towards a mission. And more organisations are asking, how do we do it? That’s where a Cultural Strategist like Mikey comes in. Learn more about how he tackles work culture issues and presents clear, workable solutions below! Start with defining employee engagement “A good place to start when it comes to engagement,” he says, “is defining what it means for you as an organisation.” Most organisations have a written set of values displayed in their office. Employees are informed of these values during the onboarding process. But they can’t remain on the wall or in the employee handbook. \"It is the responsibility and obligation of leaders to embody those values and to demonstrate them. It\'s not to say that it\'s not also the responsibility of an employee as well. Engagement is a relationship and both parties must take responsibility for their role,” he emphasises. Employee engagement, then, differs for every company. For a food business, it could mean frontline staff serve customers with a smile even during the busiest hours. For a tech company, it could mean that everyone keeps abreast of industry trends without being asked. It depends on the business, the industry, and the values that they want each employee to embody. It’s easier said than done. Employers need to lead the charge by, first, being very clear about what it means to be an engaged employee. Then they need to build the environment to reflect it. Read more: Employee Engagement – A Matter of Care Overcome resistance to change “If values are embedded into the processes, routines, and expectations, [the workplace] becomes a really great place to be. And it is difficult to do because it\'s going to for a lot of people it\'s going to require some personal accountability. It\'s going to require some behavioural change,” Mikey observes. When working on improving employee engagement, there may be some uncomfortable conversations that employer and employee need to have. All parties need to acknowledge where they have failed before they can correct it. It is a tough process, but it needs to be done. Employees will be less resistant to change if employers keep in mind that the bottom line is a sense of belonging. “People just want to feel like they belong. They want to feel like they\'re contributing to something. It doesn\'t take that much for an employer, leader, [or] manager to do that,” he explains. There will be speed bumps along the way, but when the leaders of the organisation embody the change they want to see they make it easy for others to follow suit. Employees want to work with businesses, not for them. If an employer can show that they care about individual and collective contributions, engagement increases. Read more: How to Achieve Culture by Design with Career Culture Lab’s Amanda Lutvey Measure engagement with the right tools Many employers ask for feedback on how engaged employees are. While that’s important, Mikey believes that employers also need to take a step back and think about the kind of questions they ask. “There are some great software and tools out there to measure engagement -- employee satisfaction, physical and mental health and well-being throughout the day. Poll surveys, you know, they’re great. But the key is to be really clear about what it is you\'re measuring and whether that aligns to the outcome that you\'re ultimately working towards.” For him, like any measurement tool, it\'s only as good as how you use it. If there are issues within the workplace, Mikey suggests looking at how much the company invests in culture. “You\'re probably better off for measuring the input. What are you doing to bring about the kind of culture that you want, as opposed to measuring this amorphous engagement concept?” he asks. As a Culture Strategist, he takes a pragmatic approach. He looks at antecedents to behaviour like structures and values, and how they all align. He shares, “We create not only the strategy but also the capabilities within key people in the organisation to achieve the kind of culture that they’re wanting to build.” Read more: Don’t Quit! 3 Ways to Retain your Employees in 2019 Never stop growing the business Finally, the best way to maintain employee engagement is to never stop growing the business with people in mind. Businesses that are productive, efficient, and forward-thinking provides more opportunities for people to grow with them. They need to invest in the right tools to make sure that work flows as smoothly as possible. “If we want to keep good people and we want to grow with people, we\'ve got to help them do it,” Mikey elaborates. “We need to achieve what it is that they want to achieve and so it\'s a win-win: The company benefits, the individual grows and learns, and collectively it\'s a great outcome.”. Growth is, by far, one of the most significant drivers of engagement in an organisation. A robust environment where people feel like they belong and can contribute encourages them to go the extra mile to fulfill the customer promise. “If you\'re not [growing], then you\'re just going to lose people. And if you keep them, you\'re just not going to be getting the best out of them. They’re not going to be happy because they\'re not growing.” In the end, what it comes down to is the willingness of every business to listen to employees, empower its managers, lead by example, and make sure that individuals grow alongside the business. Mikey Ellis will be talking about how to revolutionise employee engagement at the Workforce Success Conference 2019 on 26 July in Brisbane Australia. Get your tickets here!
Revolutionising Employee Engagement with Pragmatic Thinking’s Mikey Ellis
24 April 2019