On September 28, 2013 I had the opportunity to conduct an employee engagement masterclass workshop at PRAXIS, a PR and Corporate Communications conference held at Lavasa in Pune, India. You can also look up my tweets from the event.
Employee engagement is currently a one-way street. Organizations have taken on the onus to retain staff, whatever it takes. This model is flawed and is also the reason why firms struggle to stay ahead of the curve.
Here is my argument. The employment contract is simple. When a person seeks an assignment with a firm he or she wants to do great work and help grow the organization. Likewise, the organization is keen to hire the individual due to his or her skills and expertise and expects an improved business performance.
However, the expectations are mismatched or not reinforced enough. When a new hire joins the firm suddenly there are many resources invested to make sure the individual feels ‘connected’ and ‘engaged’. Surveys are conducted and a great deal of analysis leads to more intensive projects aimed at an already overwhelmed employee.
The employee is seeking clarity on the brand, opportunities to do great work, gain inner satisfaction and give back to the organization in more ways than one. According to me, employee engagement is a shared responsibility; not a program to be run by HR or internal communications. Internal communicators however have an opportunity on hand. They can step in and define the value proposition and bring consistency to the organization’s narrative.
They can also influence how the employee gains new perspective and realizes his or her potential during the stint at the firm. In the long term the hope is that the employee will continue to deliver value and stay on with the firm.
During the workshop I heard interesting perspectives on employee engagement including the need to be sensitive, be an ethical employer, be honest, have leaders who walk the talk and interest to stick to the basics.
I personally found the workshop very engaging and fulfilling. In a conversation I had with a delegate after my session I also discovered many consultancies come across clients in different industries who struggle with keeping their staff aligned.
Overall, a great start to get the conversation going.