A couple of days ago I was asked to go and speak to a large financial services firm about engagement, both customer engagement and employee engagement and the link between the two of them.
What was and is interesting is the rising consciousness amongst many firms of how connected employee engagement is to delivering a great customer experience, customer service, retention, loyalty and, thus sustainable business performance.
Moreover, Bruce Temkin in a recent blog post (Discussing 13 Customer Experience Megatrends), puts ‘Employee engagement enlightenment’ at the top of his draft list of 13 Customer Experience Megatrends, which his research tells him “will have a significant effect on customer experience over the next few years.”
Isn’t all of this self-evident?
I mean, how can we expect employees to take care of customers if the business does not trust, recognise, support and treat them well too?
Or, is it more complicated than that?
Many businesses will look for process, system and technology fixes and assume that more and better internal communications or more surveys will increase engagement. It might. But, I don’t think there will be any guarantees with those type of initiatives.
Why? Well, if we look at different sources of what drives engagement:
- Wikipedia’s entry on The Drivers of Engagement
- Scarlett Surveys: 15 Engagement Drivers & their Effect on Employee Engagement Levels or
- The Drivers of Employee Engagement from the Institute for Employment Studies
The Institute for Employment Studies goes onto to advocate that if you don’t get the basics right then any other initiatives are destined to fail.
What basics? These include:
- Good immediate management
- Two-way communication that is listened to, responded to and acted upon
- Effective team work and cooperation
- A focus on developing people and giving them the tools and the skills that they need to do the job that they are being asked to do
- Commitment to employee wellbeing and looking after the person not just performance; and
- Clear, understood and agreed policies, practices and ways of working that are accepted and committed to by all eliminating the one rule for us and another for them syndrome.
There is a lot of ‘science’ in that list of basics but there is a lot more ‘art’ than we would normally acknowledge.
From Wikipedia’s definition of Employee Engagement:
“An “engaged employee” is one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organisation’s interests.
According to Scarlett Surveys:
“Employee Engagement is a measurable degree of an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues and organisation which profoundly influences their willingness to learn and perform at work”.
Thus, engagement is distinctively different from employee satisfaction, motivation and organisational culture.”
Much of employee engagement is about relationships. The relationship an employee has with their job, their colleagues, their customers and their organisation. And, relationships are all art and very little science.
So, let’s not sweep the art under the carpet and start getting better at it.
What do you think?