What makes a winning workplace? Well, on the 20th of July we held our first ever launch event to share the results of our research. Based on our Global Perspectives study, which is now in its 7th year, you could be forgiven for wondering why this was a first launch event for us, but over the years the study has evolved not only to define employee engagement but to become an investigation into the key influences of what makes a workplace a success.
Sally Winston and Craig McMahon presented the full report. There were lots of tweets throughout the day, and you can catch up on the highlights on #awinningworkplace. We were also joined by a panel made up of representatives from Dow Jones, the Daily Mail Group, Portakabin, and our very own Kalina Janevska to give the customer insights. The following is a summary of their discussion of five of the themes.
Engage and inspire in the here and now
Winning workplaces are created when people are engaged, inspired and enabled to do their best, and without employee engagement, those successes that bring increases to the business wouldn’t happen. But the workplace is changing. People are no longer looking for an employer for life, and now the focus is moving towards changing employer every few years for better career opportunities – 42% of employees saying that they would do just that. What does this mean for employers?
“Losing ourselves and keeping our talent.”
Our panel agreed that both the organisation and employees can benefit from a degree of healthy churn. While long tenure might be a sign of loyalty and bring continuity, it doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with engagement, and can lead to a lack of diversity of experience. Today’s start-ups have very high loyalty scores and a sense of progression, along with a sense of passion and reinvention. In many senses giving your all in the here and now and making the most of the moment is better for the company and the employee than retention. The important thing is to find out what potential blockers there are internally to retention and growth are and how they can be solved.
Innovation – encourage ideas and expect some to fail
Virgin was started with the aim of selling mail order records. Now it has planes in the sky, internet in homes and air-space vehicles going galactic. But imagine how many bad ideas Richard Branson has had, entertained, or had go wrong. As an entrepreneur, he recognises that failure is part of success and it’s the ideas that matter.
In the UK we see 49% of employees believing that their organisations encourage creativity, and 47% that failure is part of innovation. Perhaps unsurprising, the higher up the hierarchy, the more likely you are to believe that the organisation recognises that failure is part of innovation – 70% of senior managers compared to 37% of non-managers.
“Innovation doesn’t have to be a huge idea. It can start small, with narrowly focused projects.”
The idea of innovation can sometimes feel bigger and scarier than it needs to. Often the main barrier to innovation, as our panel discussed, is the company culture of “We’ve always done it that way”. There can also be a concern about marrying up the big questions while getting on with the day job.
Hope and belief – along with emphasis on communication – is what is needed for employee engagement, and so that organisations are not late to meet the future.
Create super fans
Through all the years that we’ve run our Global Perspectives survey, we’ve always seen high advocacy from employees for their organisation’s products and services, and this year it comes in at 66%. It’s only in the past three years that we’ve seen a notable increase in employees advocating their organisation as a great place to work – this year it’s reached 55%. As 51% of people would ask existing employees what it’s like to work at an organisation before making a move, employee advocacy is important both internally and externally.
“Whether you like it or not, your brand has an employer brand.”
So how do you create super fans if they’re not the employees hired to present a positive image and talk about how great the company is, like those who are hired to manage social media? Employee culture is changing along with the wider culture. Our opinions are sought more than ever and we have an increasing number of ways to give them. Our panel concluded that creating awareness of the positives and what’s being delivered with the brand is important for both those that work there, those that may want to work there, and those that leave – that happy divorce might lead to more work down the line. Once again, communication is what’s important.
Create a line between employees and customers
Employee engagement is hugely impacted by customer centricity. We found that 83% of engaged people think that their organisation is customer-centric, whereas only 22% of people who don’t believe that their organisation is customer-centric are engaged. In fact, customer-centric employees are far more positive towards all questions.
“Business to business is still person to person.”
Creating a customer-centric culture always conjures up images of the retail environment, but every organisation has a customer of some description. A great question came from the panel in terms of how do you make support staff, such as the finance department, more customer focused? It was decided that it was important to show every part of the organisation how their role impacted the customer experience, and sharing the love and value for how they help to make that a positive one. Involvement at an earlier stage would also help, along with role swapping to show how different departments work together and highlight the importance of collaboration. Once again, communication, removing barriers and silo working, creating focus and understanding helps to create a culture where whatever decision you make as an organisation is made with the customer in mind. Leaders need to be passionate and truly believe that what they are doing will benefit the end user, and employees need to be empowered to transfer ideas into action – even if they fail, the intent was there and that is the main thing.
40% of people are not completely confident they have authentic, connected and agile leaders, and half are not receiving an inspiring strategic narrative – corporate communications don’t excite and inspire them. Considering the role of leaders and internal comms, that’s a lot of people who are not reaching out in the right way and employees who feel unconnected to their managers and organisations.
“In ten years’ time, we will still be talking about leadership.”
Leaders are at all levels of the organisation, but how do you get leaders at the bottom as engaged as those at the top? How do you remove the unintended consequences of learned behaviours and not accept that things won’t change? It’s culture and communications again, and encouraging and creating belief in people, ensuring that all levels of the organisation know that they are empowered to do things, take initiative and innovate.
This analogy came from Nathan Clements of the Daily Mail Group:
The important thing to create in an organisation is belief and hope, and the question of
engagement will always revolve around leadership. Though engagement is shown to be
higher at the top of an organisation, the inspiration and ambition and empowerment to do
more has to run right through the hierarchy. After all, you wouldn’t paint a wall by putting
some paint at the top and waiting for it to trickle down.
So those are our panel’s insights into 5 of the ways to create a winning workplace. What do you think? To find out more about the other 5 ways, download the report.