How Appreciation Can Improve Employee Engagement

by - 21 June 2016
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In a recent Forbes article, Positivity Strategist Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, an expert in organisational development through appreciative inquiry, lauds “a big shift from the traditional view of organisational life”. Focussing on the positive aspects of life and work and showing appreciation instead of criticism is changing team cultures for the better, the expert writes.

Strengths and Assets Get Taken For Granted

In the traditional view, “we’re rewarded to focus first on mistakes and problems, while the strengths and best assets get taken for granted,” she says. This human pattern evolved at the very beginning of human kind and is built into our evolutionary need for survival according to Stratton-Berkessel: “People shut down or attack when faced with threat, and they open up and include when they feel safe. When one’s mind and heart is open, positive emotions, thoughts and actions follow.”

As every HR manager knows: Highly engaged employees are the ones who’ll give their best each day, are committed to the organisation’s goals and values and are motivated to contribute to organisational success.

Employee Engagement a Must for Hiring and Retaining Top Talent

Employee engagement, which describes the relationship between an organisation and its employees, has been a hot topic in HR circles for quite some time now, however it’s taken a while to filter down to the SME space.

Initiatives centred around staff engagement have typically been restricted to ‘big business’, simply because of the financial and resource overhead involved in getting these initiatives off the ground and then maintaining them. However, the fight for hiring and retaining top talent (especially in the tech & digital space) means that even SMEs can no longer leave employee engagement strategies to the large multinationals.

Australia: High Demand for Digital Talent

In the Australian market place there’s a high demand and therefore competition for tech and digital talent and in recruitment circles the power base has shifted to the candidate which means companies need to differentiate themselves from the rest. Not just in the hiring of top talent, but in making sure they stay.

PowerNET understands the real cost of ‘bad hire’, but more importantly the infinite rewards that come from hiring the ‘right people’ who are highly engaged in their job, understand the organisation’s goals and want to contribute to it.

PowerNET’s Employee Engagement Initiative is Simple but Powerful

Alanna Kane, General Manager at PowerNET:

“At PowerNET we consider employee engagement incredibly important and why wouldn’t we? Imagine if every member of your organisation came to work each day with a vigour and enthusiasm to achieve your organisational goals, living and breathing your company values and all your employees were in alignment with how you wanted to achieve those goals. Well, the heights you could achieve would be beyond expectation.

Back in January our leadership team undertook an exercise to determine the weekly metrics we’d look at as a business. We did this by asking ourselves the question, if we were all stuck on an island and the business continued to run as usual, what were the seven to ten key metrics we’d want to know about business performance? Naturally, the first ones that came to mind were sales pipe, debtors, cash in the bank, customer satisfaction and engagement etc. and then it dawned on us in order to achieve all of the targets associated with these metrics we need engaged staff (especially if the leadership team are stuck on an island), so we decided it was important to understand on a weekly basis how engaged our staff really are.

So, how are we doing this? Every Friday afternoon an email goes around to all PowerNET staff. They’re asked to click on a link which leads to a simple question: ‘How was your week?’ Staff are asked to respond by clicking on one – either a smiley, neutral or sad face (similar to CSAT). They’re then given the option to tell us why their week was either good, bad or average. The results are completely anonymous, allowing staff to feel comfortable in giving an honest response and at the end of the day all we want to know as an organisation is: Are our staff engaged enough to let us know how their week was?

Being a business of almost 50 employees we don’t have large budgets to throw at engagement initiatives such as holidays for high achievers or invitations to annual overseas conferences, but by giving staff a voice to tell us how their week was, we are gaining vital information on our workforce that can only benefit the employee and in turn PowerNET for the long term.

Having been live across the organisation for six weeks now, we’re already gaining some really valuable insight into how engaged our staff are, in addition to finding out trends that correlate to a good or not so good week. In the long term this is going to help us open channels of communication with our staff and implement new initiatives as more data comes to hand.“

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