Previously we explored why people are NOT your greatest asset. Simply put many leaders don’t ‘walk the talk’. But getting real value from people is easier than many think.
Gallup’s research suggesting just 13% of employees globally are actively engaged is a damning (if flawed) statistic. It has launched a thousand HR initiatives, but unfortunately many miss the point: employee engagement is not a target, it’s a starting point.
Big data - Little action …
On scale of 1-5 answer one of Gallup’s 12 key questions - is your opinion valued at work?
Your answer will probably be ‘it depends’ - sometimes your opinion is valued, sometimes not, sometimes it should be, sometimes it shouldn’t. So, how do you summarise a range of experiences over a year into a single, meaningful, number?
The answer is you don’t, not objectively. Human brains are not computational machines. We’re very poor at weighing multiple experiences over time, designating each a score and producing an accurate average. While the engagement scores presented to leaders may appear objective they are in fact deeply misleading.
Humans evolved socially - in tribes and clans to families and organisations today. When making decisions we automatically consider the social context of our responses. If challenged to provide abstract opinions (e.g. a score) we respond instead with answers that place social considerations to the fore.
The ‘objective’ data coming out of employee engagement surveys therefore are biased by responses that gift the answers people think are wanted, or game them to reflect well on themselves (or poorly on others). So much for the objectivity of numbers alone.
Employee engagement today is often assessed by interrogating staff on the issues management deem important. Instead of building fast feedback loops between the frontline and decision-makers (to communicate real opportunities or needs that leaders can respond to by directing appropriate resources) we have a process that employees feel is a waste of time and leaders a waste of money.
This deeply unsatisfying situation makes everyone in the organisation reluctant to put themselves through it more than once a year. It is disengagement by design.
Start with Engagement…
Gallup’s research may indicate a wider engagement problem, yet unverifiable opinions and arbitrary numbers is not a call to action for leaders. Organisations therefore must learn how to engage staff more naturally for, like the result of patience being patience, the reward of engagement will be engagement.
Taking the Employee Perspective™ powered by SenseMaker® is an innovative but reliable approach to engagement that lets employees freely share the daily experiences that matter most to them, whenever they happen. Anonymous responses are self-tagged to build meaningful ‘meta-data’ which is fed through to leadership for action.
While it’s unrealistic to respond to every issue, leaders want to understand what’s really happening in the organisation and why, so they can act. Taking the Employee Perspective™ allows leaders to see patterns in the meta-data in real-time and respond to the important ones - making them more responsive to both opportunities and needs.
And it is this that lies at the core of employee engagement in organisation: do your people feel they are valued members of a winning team on an inspiring mission? Getting real value from people starts with really valuing people - listening intently to them is the next step your organisation should make today.
For more information visit narrativeinsights.com today.