Recently I was fortunate to attend an excellent breakfast meeting at the home of media luvvies (the Groucho Club) focused on increasing employee engagement.
A really engaging debate highlighted the ever increasing importance of engaging with people in your business during the recession. Key messages that came out of the discussion were as follows:
* focus on both emotional and rational engagement – taking people with you requires an appeal to both the heart and the head
* know your audience – ensure that the message, tone and method of communication are appropriate. No point writing a Daily Telegraph style message for a Sun reading population (or vice-versa)
* balance top-down with bottom-up communication – making sure that you know what people are thinking and feeling, and use this to inform decision-making
* develop your line managers – engagement is not all about senior management. Day-to-day interaction with line managers can be key to helping people feel connected to their team and the business. Why not use your better managers to help develop others and spread best practice
* engaging through change – when reorganising it can often help managers to connect with their people by understanding the ’employee journey’ that each person may be going through. A brief scenario can help managers understand the questions that each group are likely to have (whether they are transferring to another organisation, leaving the business voluntarily / against their will, staying while others are made redundant etc.) and prepare managers to help answer these questions
* align your communication and engagement style to your company culture and ensure that it is grounded in reality
* use social networking – this can be a double-edged sword, so it is worth being convinced that it will increase engagement, retention and attraction of good quality candidates to such an extent that the occasional loss of a good performer is more than offset by the gains
Really engaging discussion – the bullet points above can’t hope to do it justice! Being right in the middle of supporting yet another redundancy programme I can appreciate the need to engage ‘the survivors’ in ensuring that there is a future and that they can contribute to it.