What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is about the relationship between an organisation, and it’s employees.
An engaged employee has a positive attitude towards the organisation and its values. In contrast, a disengaged employee may range from someone doing the bare minimum at work (aka ‘coasting’), up to an employee who is actively damaging the company’s work output and reputation.
Employee engagement is about employees understanding their role within an organisation; it’s values, knowing and taking pride in what they can contribute. Employees will have a feeling of trust between them, their colleagues and the organisation. It requires commitment by the organisation to communicate well and regularly and to act on any feedback it receives from employees.
What are the Benefits of being more engaged?
There are mutual benefits for both the organisation and its employees.
Happier and more productive staff means that they build better relationships with colleagues and clients. They know the vision of the organisation, what’s expected of them, and how they can make a difference. They’re more likely to make suggestions about how to change things for the better and will push themselves to meet their career goals.
Often employees will be more likely to vent to each other over a beer or at lunch rather than speaking to the organisation about what problems they may have. By ensuring that employees know that they can speak up and that the employer will do what they can to sort the issue as soon as possible, employers will get regular and honest feedback and are less likely to experience staff churn.
For the organisation, all of this translates into smaller staff turnover and hence reduced recruitment costs and reduced onboarding costs.
What have we done?
After evaluating a few tools and gathering some recommendations, we implemented OfficeVibe within our organisation. OfficeVibe is a platform that allows organisations to collect and track feedback from employees. It automatically sends emails every week, which contains the first of about 4 – 5 questions on how the employee feels about crucial areas. These areas include trust with their line manager, how they feel about their compensation package, how the organisation promotes wellness, and how the team think they are recognised for their achievements etc. It takes a short while to gather enough feedback to be useful, but within a few weeks, there should be ten critical areas with scores as well as an overall employee engagement score, and an “Employee Net Promoter” score (or eNPS). It’s worth noting that everything through OfficeVibe by default is anonymous. If the platform asks a question that starts some dialogue with a manager, they are shown as anonymous until they choose to allow themselves to be known. The idea is that this encourages feedback to be open and honest.
OfficeVibe also gives some advice on how to present feedback to the employees and suggests that the bottom two metrics are focussed on, with staff asked what they would like to do to improve those scores.
Many organisations will meet with staff once per year to discuss performance and salary, which is problematic for two reasons. Firstly the discussion around performance is blurred by the fact that the employee will likely want a pay rise. Instead of being honest around achievements and goals, the employee may be doing everything they can to make themselves look as valuable as possible. Secondly, that means that performance is only discussed once per year, which is nowhere near enough to ensure that employees stay on track to make progress towards their goals.
By separating the pay and performance review processes, we’ve ensured that these conversations stay separate. We’ve put in place a coaching process that happens much more regularly.
Coaching takes the form of 4 different “themes” run once per month. Our coaches were volunteers within our team who wanted to make a difference to other peoples progression. The themes were put together by looking at other top-performing organisations such as Atlassian, Hubspot, and Method, to name a few. The topics we’ve now settled on for the moment are:
· Long Term Goals – Discussing where the employee would like to go long term, and what they believe they need to do to achieve that
· Love and Loathe – What do they love about the company and what they do, and what do they loathe. How can we create a place where they do more of what they love and less of what they loathe?
· Removing Barriers – All the things that stop the employee from achieving their long term goal, and how do we remove those?
· 360 Feedback – We send surveys to the employee’s colleagues to gather useful and structured feedback, present it to the employee and discuss.
From a pay review perspective, we now have a list of behaviours that we would like everyone to exhibit. These range from “Mastering the Trade” and “Being Scrappy” to “We Love IJYI”. We give everyone a standard pay rise of 3% every year, and if someone believes they deserve some more, they can request a pay review. They’ll need to give evidence of what they’ve done against the list of behaviours as well as evidence of market rates, and if it’s agreed, they achieve the pay rise.
We’re a technology-based company, and so the landscape is incredibly fast-moving. Everyone must keep up to date with new technology, techniques and methods.
Our training budget includes capacity for at least one “on-site” course per employee, per year and is something that many of our staff make use. Different people learn in different ways, and so some of our staff ask for online courses and books.
What results have we seen?
Have you seen our careers page? It shows testimonials from our staff about how they feel about working at IJYI. Quotes were gathered relatively painlessly by our marketing manager and not a director telling staff that they needed to give positive feedback. I’m really proud of this, and it’s as a result of the environment and culture that we’re providing at IJYI.
Engagement with new initiatives
Lunch and Learns
One thing we love at IJYI is a good “lunch and learn”! If a member of the team learns something new, a new technology, new process or even just explaining a system that only they have knowledge about, we gather everyone in the boardroom, buy lunch (usually pizza), and they explain to the rest of the team how something works. It’s a great way to spread knowledge, extract yourself from being the “single point of failure” and show the team your expertise! We’ve had lunch and learns on automated testing, containerisation techniques, creating vector graphics, use of social media and
Since one of the behaviours included in a pay review means showing off your knowledge and expertise to people outside of the company, blog posts are a great way to achieve part of that. Our marketing manager now has a backlog of blog posts to post over the coming months from all across the team, with a number of exciting subjects. Stay tuned!
Some of our staff love playing with a Raspberry Pi. Since we have a strong focus on DevOps, our team took it upon themselves to create some useful dashboards. These are now deployed to the Pi’s and displayed on some large screens across the office. It’s incredibly helpful to be able to look at the dashboard and get a view on if there’s any bugs, support tickets or incidents, and drives behaviour around taking ownership.
Through coaching and goal setting, we’ve seen our development team put a real focus on the quality of their work. The development team ensures that requirements and acceptance criteria are well understood and a considerable reduction to the number of items coming back from client review. Since any form of waste within a software development process can be expensive, this is a significant cost saving.
Team member referrals
Our team now actively refer past colleagues for roles within IJYI. If we hire that referral, the team member gets a reward in the form of an experience day (the latest was a trip to the British Grand Prix!). The means we hire staff that have been given the “thumbs up” from one of our existing team members, they get an experience day as a reward, and we save on recruitment fees!
Office Vibe Results
Results from OfficeVibe itself has shown several areas that we could improve, and it’s helped focus our efforts on the areas that our staff feel requires the most work. We’ve put a lot more work into ensuring that our values are communicated and well understood (along with the reasons behind them). We’ve been making sure that staff feel their efforts are recognised and appreciated as actively encouraging people to work from home once in a while. Although initially, the feedback was a little hard to swallow, after the initial rollout things settled down, meaning we can address issues in a manageable way. We’re now achieving a diamond score on OfficeVibe putting us in the 84th percentile across all organisations using OfficeVibe.
Chris has been obsessed with problem solving and delivering solutions from a young age. He has an extensive background in IT consultancy for Aviva, Willis Group, BT, SEGA and British Gas, with a focus on technology and process to deliver customer value.