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Productive work: Engagement strategies that drive performance

An engaged workforce is a productive one - so what are some of the HR strategies used to ensure staff are happy and motivated? We speak to Thera Storie of Baptcare, Kerrie Field of St Vincents & Mater Health Sydney and Peter Coyne of Crown Melbourne for their thoughts on employee engagement.

Video transcript below:

Donna Sawyer, HC TV
Donna Sawyer:  An engaged work force is a productive one and it’s upto HR to devise a strategy to ensure staff are happy and motivated.  That’s much easier said than done.  But Therea Storie of Baptcare says the first step is to measure employee engagement.

Thera Storie, Baptcare
Thera Storie:  We use PeopleStreme’s engagement surveys and we use it every two years.  We decided to use it every two years to enable us to track how we are going, but also to enable us to implement improvements and really respond to employee concerns.
Peter Coyne, Crown Melbourne
Peter Coyne:  Engagements are really important metric for us.  We measure engagement every two years in a companywide survey and then we follow up with pilots or mini surveys within business units where we are working intensively on the matter of engagement.
Thera Storie:  What we particularly liked about the PeopleStreme and then why we chose it was because it does provide you instantaneous feedback, so you can actually track the results online yourself, whereas with other survey companies that we looked at, they took about 3 months to get the results back to us and by that time employees are over it, they have done the survey, they have forgotten, so in this instance we can actually give the results back to our staff within 2 weeks and we do that through team meetings, newsletters and sometimes focus groups, if there is particular issues that we want to probe into.  
Donna Sawyer:  Kerrie Field of St. Vincents & Mater Health, Sydney says a simple thank you can go a long way to keeping staff engaged.  
Kerrie Field, St. Vincents & Mater Health
Kerrie Field:  We have developed a program called program engage and it really is around engaging employees at all levels of the organisation and part of that program is our signature rewards program which is recognising our difference and that program is really designed to actually set up a thank you mentality.  So when we looked at our engagement scores, we looked at how much we are recognising people and whilst there was a lot of verbal recognition going on, we didn’t have a process or a program I guess to facilitate and to encourage people to say thank you.  We have been running that program now for 5 months and 3,500 employees we have had 1700 e-cards of thank you sent from all different levels across the organisation.
Thera Storie: Our key engagement driver was of family flexibility, being work flexibility, work life balance, but also the actual work that we do, so the challenging work that people do, engages people.  We found that one of the reasons why people join is, the work is interesting, there is job opportunities and we also, we have locations in many different areas, so people want to work close to home.  People stay with us because the work itself and they find the work itself intrinsically rewarding when they make a real difference to people’s lives on a day to day basis.
Donna Sawyer:  In any organisation there is likely to be some disengaged employees.  But can HR win them over?
Kerrie Field:  I think anything is possible.   I think part of that is really understanding why people are disengaged in the first place.  So really getting down to saying, “okay so why have you got a thing with people where some people are highly engaged, some people sitting on the fence and some people are disengaged.”  And really thinking about, “okay so what will it take to get that group of people across the line?”  And usually it’s because the organisation hasn’t paid much attention to them.  There is something difficult, there is some difficulty going on within that department or they are purely tired of working for the organisation and probably need some help to actually realise, come to that reality and also to then give them coaching on what their future might look like.
Thera Storie:  We have a number of different programs in place.  We have leadership conferences twice a year where we invite our high potentials to.  And we also have staff conferences where managers can nominate staff to attend and we rotate those around, so that’s an annual staff conference.  And then what we find is that those already engaged or ambivalent employees then turn around and become really strong advocates and ambassadors for Baptcare within their local teams and that makes the biggest difference to our team environments and we found that actively disengaged employees actually voluntarily most of the time leave the organisation anyway.  And that’s why we focus on the engaged and the ambivalent employees.
Peter Coyne, Crown Melbourne
Peter Coyne:  There are lots of theories about what shifts the dial on engagement, but at the end of the day I think it is just around really sound people management practices by line managers and support people and just treating people really fairly within a workplace and really valuing their contribution at every level to the organisation.
Donna Sawyer:  This is Donna Sawyer reporting for HC TV.