Building an Engaged Workforce

I have previously written about the benefits of building an engaged workforce and have set out the clear and significant business benefits this offers on a number of occasions. For anyone still to be convinced, I recommend having a look at the ‘Engage for Success’ website. However, whilst a lot of businesses now understand the benefits of improving employee engagement, not many understand how to do it, nor that engagement is an output not a process. In fact, it is Employee Involvement that is the process and it is this process, when conducted effectively, that leads to improved engagement.

Employee Involvement

The great thing about Employee Involvement is that there’s no real mystery or science and we all know what it means – involving employees, at all levels of the organisation, in understanding and discussing where the business is at, where it wants to be in the future and how it plans to get there. Beyond this, the only things that we need to be aware of when considering an Employee Involvement exercise are these: Keep it simple and avoid business speak wherever possible Ask employee’s what they think, rather than telling them what the leaders want to hear Create an environment for an effective two-way discussion, not a one-way presentation Be open to (any) feedback and challenge Accept that no idea is a bad idea and encourage employees to make suggestions Give feedback on what you have learnt from the exercise and plan to do as a result Make sure there are ongoing opportunities for employees to be involved.

The reason why effective Employee Involvement works is that, by nature, we all want a clear sense of direction and purpose, to understand what is expected of us and what we are empowered to do and to be given the support to improve and develop. Equally, and critically, we don’t want to just be told this, we want to be engaged in discussions that help us to understand this and why things are as they are.

The Role of the Leader

It is essential, therefore, that leaders understand the value of Employee Involvement and how best to go about it and that they go into it with the right attitude. Leaders who approach Employee Involvement as a tick-box exercise will be found out and won’t get much out of the process. In fact, they are more likely to breed resistance and contempt.

However, those leaders who take the time to go about it properly and who are brave enough to open themselves up to question and suggestion, will achieve more than you might think. This is because employees who have become involved in something and who feel like they have had the opportunity to contribute to it, will automatically become engaged in it and feel they have some ownership of it. This in turn generates a sense of pride in and loyalty to the initiative in question which will guarantee that any discretionary effort required to make the initiative a success will be given.

Business as Usual

The ultimate challenge, and the key to developing an engaged workforce, is to ensure that Employee Involvement becomes part of the organisational culture and ‘the way things are done around here’ rather than a one-off initiative. Involving employees in all business matters, not just major change initiatives, will build its own momentum and lasting impact and, for those leaders who fear the time this may take, will deliver returns in improved productivity, service delivery and customer satisfaction that drive significant top and bottom line benefits.

What our clients say

Project Rome worked with us to develop a purpose-driven strategy for Yorkshire Building Society, aligning our commercial ambitions with our societal and environmental responsibilities. The team were an absolute pleasure to work with, and their knowledge and experience were invaluable. We couldn’t have delivered the work without them.

Tanya Jackson, former Head of Corporate Affairs, Yorkshire Building Society

Project Rome has helped shape, challenge and then support the further development of original thinking, critical to the successful transformation of our sustainable business and asset strategy. They are also hugely well connected regionally and nationally. Their work has led to enhanced customer value and environmental performance for Yorkshire Water – an important outcome at a pivotal time.

Jon Brigg, Manager of Innovation, Yorkshire Water

The team at Project Rome are great to work with; consistently delivering results and adding valuable contributions but also easy and enjoyable to collaborate with. They are impressive in their ability to build rapport with different audiences and quickly apply a strategic mindset and technical expertise to bring structure, clarity and direction.

Gordon Rogers, Head of Sustainability, Yorkshire Water

It has been my pleasure to work with Project Rome over a number of years.  Simon has always brought clear strategic thinking and analysis at corporate level and worked with me as a member of the executive team in WYG plc over an extended period as we grew the business.  I have greatly appreciated his wisdom and help in setting direction for growth and implementing strategy.

Douglas McCormick, Executive Chairman, Gleeds UK and former CEO of WYG

I would sum up Project Rome in three words: diligence, expertise and accuracy. But what’s more, they are a true pleasure to work with. If we have a complex project, Project Rome is our first port of call.

Jeremy Biggs, CEO, NCL Technology Ventures Ltd

Project Rome worked on a one-to-one basis to quickly build relationships and gain the trust of key stakeholders, from clinicians and support teams to Executive Directors. The result was a significant leap forward in our ability to effectively collaborate at all levels. They were also an absolute delight to work with, bringing humour and a sense of fun to the team. We loved every minute of working with them!

Rebecca Malin, former Programme Director, Acute Provider Collaboration, Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The Project Rome team has an open, approachable style that worked well with our entire team, from Executive Directors to junior admin colleagues. They were politically and culturally sensitive to the need of the population and the multiple stakeholders, and creative and thoughtful about ways to get the optimum outcome from their work.

Stacey Hunter, Executive Director Acute Provider Collaboration Airedale FT and Bradford FT NHS Trusts, Chief Operating Officer, NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber

Project Rome provide FirstGroup with excellent regional intelligence and wise political counsel. They help us engage with our key stakeholders in a meaningful and focussed way.

Mike Katz, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, FirstGroup plc

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