Employee Comms

Three factors that affect employee engagement

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 — October 20th, 2017

Three factors that affect employee engagement

Andrew Blacknell, an internal change & communication consultant, recently conducted a 45-minute webinar: 'Drive Employee Engagement Through Communications'.

During the webinar, Andrew discussed the three factors that drive employee engagement. Here is his insight into these factors:

There is plenty of evidence to support the impact of employee engagement on the bottom line. Sears undertook a study in the early 1990s which showed that stores with more satisfied employees, had more satisfied customers and higher revenue. Towers Watson has replicated these findings regularly when mining its employee survey data and can prove that companies with more engaged employees have greater profitability.

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How can Internal Communication drive employee engagement?

So if engagement is the goal, how can Internal Communications most effectively increase employee engagement? Andrew Blacknell, a seasoned internal communications professional, looked at this topic in-depth in a recent Newsweaver webinar. He identified three factors that have consistently been shown to drive engagement.

Here's how Internal Communications can contribute to each of the three factors.

1. Make your leaders better communicators

  1. Educate them about the impact of their behavior. According to Towers Watson, “my boss takes an interest in me” has been the number one driver of engagement for decades.
  2. Set the expectation that managers are the preferred channel - A YouGov survey showed that only 28% of employees trust messages from their CEO “more than a little”. That’s a warning about broadcasting from the top. Aviva’s research showed that 70% of employees wanted to hear about important issues like their role, development, and career, from their line manager.
  3. Define the communications piece of the leadership framework – work with HR to make sure communications is a recognized and measured competence and clearly represented in your leadership model. Have a look at EDF’s four I’s and AstraZeneca’s balanced scorecard.
  4. Build manager capability – Aviva, HSBC, McCain, and Halifax all scored their manager communication rather averagely.

2. Give employees line of sight from their job to the company’s mission

One of Gallup’s Q12 is “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.” Internal Communications must help employees connect their job to the company’s mission – or a “line of sight”.

Two actions communicators can take:

  1. Define the external brand with a few words and beautiful imagery - I worked on the brand essence at Woolworths and although I could remember it, not many others could. Internal Communications needs to simplify it without dumbing it down or diluting its meaning so that employees can still make real connections.
  2. Define it internally via an employee value proposition (EVP) - This may need a different set of brand guidelines or the same ones as externally, but the hard bit here is making sure that the internal employee value proposition (the give and the get) reinforces the external one. (see Yahoo’s The Real Deal).

3. Create channels to involve employees and measure their use

Another Gallup’s Q12 is “At work do your opinions seem to count”. Patrick Lencioni, author of ‘The five dysfunctions of a team’ says that if people can ‘weigh in, they buy in’. All the research supports that and Internal Communications now has the channels and functional maturity to make this happen. Look at Avery Dennison’s ‘The Beat’, Lexis Nexus crowdsourcing their employee benefits policies and Newsweaver’s communication metrics and benchmarks.There has never been a better time to be in internal communications. 90% of the attendees on Newsweaver’s most recent webcast said Internal Communication was increasing in influence. Expectations of Internal Communication and your voice being heard have never been higher.

About Andrew Blacknell
Andrew is a Change & Communication Consultant with over twenty years experience in internal communication and change management – both in-house and as a consultant based in Europe and North America. His expertise includes employee research, employee engagement, change management, employee value propositions and leadership development. Andrew formerly led the UK Communication & Change Management practice at Towers Watson and now runs his own consulting business. GlaxoSmithKline, American Express, the Church of England and Towers Watson are some of his clients (blacknellventures.com)
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