These days, the benefits of employee engagement are undeniable:
- Organizations benefit because employee engagement has been proven to impact business metrics such as voluntary turnover, productivity, safety, and profitability.
- Managers benefit because it provides them with a framework for how to effectively operate (for example, highlighting whether employees understand their goals and accountabilities, have the information they need, or feel appreciated).
- Employees benefit from employee engagement because their feedback leads to positive change and a rewarding work environment.
- Contribution towards developing a safety culture where everyone cares for each other to achieve "zero harm".
When employees are not committed or fully vested in safety culture, they’re not overly concerned with their performance and they are not invested in the future success of the company. This negatively can affect day-to-day operations, inhibit a company’s growth, and put workers’ safety at risk.
Unfortunately, some employee engagement programs fail to yield the benefits listed above.
1. Purpose and strategy not clearly understood
What is the purpose of your employee engagement program? The very best organizations know it’s not just a survey. Nor is it a score. And it’s definitely not a "check-the-box," "because-every-other-organization-is-doing-it" activity.
Whether it’s to create a culture or to involve more employees in safety activities, to consistently deliver organization towards zero harm goal, or to empower managers to be more effective, your employee engagement survey should have a clearly defined purpose and strategy, and everyone in the organization should know it.
2. It’s positioned as one more initiative
Launching an employee engagement initiative does take preparation, and this often falls to HR. That’s OK. HR often provides employee engagement resources and coaching; that’s OK, too.
Ultimately, though, employee engagement is created and sustained by every team in the organization, and every team needs to feel responsible for it. When HR’s role in employee engagement is over-emphasized, the rest of the organization doesn't pay attention or take action. So the safety department should personally ensure the drive to engage employees.
3. No clear role and accountability
To follow up failure #2: When it comes to your employee engagement program, what role do leaders, managers, and employees play? If no one in the organization knows what is expected of them in regards to your employee engagement program, it’s unfair to expect time, participation, action, progress, or monetary investment. Make sure everyone is clear on their role, expectations, deadlines, and what’s next (not just during the survey, but throughout the year).
4. Everything revolves around the survey
A survey, whether it’s a census or pulse survey, is simply the measurement component of an employee engagement program. Yes, communicating about the survey is important in order for employees to know when and how they can participate. However, a great employee engagement program is ongoing throughout the year.
Don’t let your internal communications stop after the survey closes; that’s when the real work takes place. Instead, highlight teams with best practices to share, mention decisions or changes that are a result of employee feedback and continue to emphasize why employee engagement is important to your organization.
5. Managers don’t know what to do next.
Managers play a critical role in employee engagement. They're supposed to receive the team’s feedback collected in the survey, discuss the survey results with the team, and initiate action within the team to continuously improve engagement. Specific activities who's score is less as per the survey are take ranked on priority and addressed first.
It is the manager's role to ensure that the activities suggested by the safety team to implement at their workplace and communicate the results.
To win in the marketplace You must first win in the workplace
Employee engagement empowers an organization to create a culture of recognition through all aspects of the business, including safety. Where do you start? Start at the top with a visible, empowering leadership team that provides a strong narrative about where the company is and where it is going. Managers should focus on their employees and give them scope, treat them as individuals, and provide them guidance toward future growth.
Guideline to improve employee engagement :
- Setting clear guidelines – Strategy developed for employee engagement should clearly mention each one's role.
- Instilling a sense of ownership – Let employees know they are important and you trust them to do the job right every time.
- Investing in employees’ future growth – Companies who invest in continued growth and development of their employees are more successful in reducing at-risk behavior.
- Involving employees in the safety program – Conduct safety meetings and create safety committees to involve employees in the safety culture. Also include workers in changes before they occur to allow for open discussion.
- Providing ongoing training for employees – When employees are not properly trained or training has lapsed, they are not being set up for success. It can put their own and others' safety at risk.
- Facilitating two-way communication – Managers and supervisors need to be approachable and allow employees to voice their opinions, concerns, and ideas without fear of retaliation.
- Appreciate & recognize employees – A simple thank you can go a long way when employees go above and beyond what is expected. Recognition helps to positively reinforce safe behavior and fosters engagement.
After all of this preparation, are you still seeing a disconnect between the goals of your safety program and the attitudes and behaviors of your employees? If so, you may need to reevaluate how you’re motivating employees to be committed to safety in the workplace.