If you haven’t got the right tools for any job, the outcome is likely to be sub-optimal. Without a complete set of tools the pathway to strong employee engagement will inevitably be pretty rough and a response such as “Darn it!” (or something stronger) to the results of an employee engagement survey an unwelcome probability.
The response itself, though, gives a clue as to what might be missing and adversely affecting the survey results: the crucial tool of a well-communicated and aligned Strategic Narrative. It’s the golden thread that must be woven through every employee engagement programme, to draw all your other employee engagement efforts together. It’s a tool that’s undeservedly under-used and yet can make a vast difference to employee engagement.
Let’s take a step back…
Taking a Balanced Approach
The concept of Engagement is often lauded in organisations as it is widely held to be a prerequisite for great performance. The organisational desire is that employees are drawn to display discretionary effort, to go above and beyond the letter of their contract in support of business objectives (including Health & Safety). To have a ‘want to’ attitude rather than a ‘have to’.
But is that fair?
Why would people do this unless the organisation offers them something ‘discretionary’ in return?
In essence, Engagement can be defined as what’s in the unwritten agreement or social contract but not in the actual contract of employment. An organisation may be clear about what it wants from employees. But there’s a critical component that’s often forgotten – what employee experiences exist on the other side to encourage engagement?
Drivers of Engagement
Studies on Quality of Working Life and Engagement have identified a number of factors that are most valued by employees. Chief amongst them are:
- Leader-Member Exchange (Relationship)
- Flexibility & Autonomy
- Work-Life Balance
- Job Satisfaction
- Development, Investment & Training
- Reward, Recognition & Fair Treatment
When perusing these studies, what struck us was the overlap with the four pillars proposed by Engage for Success.
To harmonise the two models, we have drawn the pillars into three Strands of Engagement:
- Caring Managers
- Esteemed Employees
- Organisational Integrity
woven together by the golden thread of an aligned Strategic Narrative.
Underlying the three strands in our model are well documented psychological principles relating to personal control, belonging, trust, fairness, predictability, reward, achievement and purpose:
- Their presence triggers a positive physiological response and feelings of satisfaction.
- Their absence implies the existence of stressors, which in turn can impact our wellbeing.
How well an organisation understands and is managing the three Strands of Engagement is therefore hugely important.
But something else is required to ensure the organisation’s purpose is understood – managing the three Strands alone is Excellent But Never Enough.
And that’s where the golden thread of an aligned Strategic Narrative provides an essential template for clear communication and calibrating integrity. With an aligned Strategic Narrative, people will appreciate the route and plans from current reality to a better place. They know where they came from, where they are and where collectively the organisation is heading. They understand how they contribute. They see the purpose in initiatives and in their role and they are engaged in making them a success, even if there are bumps in the road.
The Journey to Great Performance
In summary, great performance requires Engagement, which requires two things of leaders:
- That they actively weave and sustain a culture of care based on the three core Strands of Engagement
- That they effectively communicate an aligned Strategic Narrative – the golden thread that binds the other three Strands of Engagement together.
Your Free Diagnostic
You won’t be surprised that we offer consultancy and training in both Employee Engagement and Strategic Narrative. However, we’re also happy to offer a free diagnostic discussion over a real or virtual coffee – exploring these ideas and how they will help your organisation. Simply contact us here to set up a discussion.
Resilient People in Resilient Organisations
Our specialist culture change consultants work with organisations across the globe to create a culture of safety and wellbeing. We harness the impact of improved leadership & engagement to create organisational resilience and optimal health & safety performance. OCAID stands for Organisational Culture And Individual Development
Contact us to discuss your project or dig deeper:
Cultural Safety | Behavioural Safety | Engagement & Wellbeing