Opinion: Designing an employee engagement program for 2016

Bill McMurray outlines how HR can execute on one critical resolution for the new year.

Bill McMurray outlines how HR can execute on one critical resolution for the new year.

New Year, new start, new resolutions! As we kick start a whole new chapter, it’s important to implement fresh and positive new ways to engage your employees for a fruitful, more productive year ahead. Many employers struggle to figure out ways to retain their staff, putting more pressure on HR professionals to think of ways to engage employees especially at the start of the year. We all know how hard it can be to get back into the groove and gain momentum after a long holiday.

Reflect on business and goals
Before designing an employee engagement program for 2016, organisations need to reflect on and understand the business landscape they are operating in. For instance, they need to consider key aspects such as: appetite or resistance to change, resources to action change, the vision and strategic initiatives, legislation, awards and unions. These elements will help determine the approach and type of program that can be successfully implemented. Organisations also need to broadly define the scale and type of change they are willing (or not willing) to undertake.
After studying the business landscape, organisations need to answer the following questions:
  • How is engagement going to be measured?
    • How is the Engagement Score going to be calculated?
    • How frequently is the Engagement Score going to be measured?
    • What mechanisms are going to be used to capture the employee feedback (e.g. paper-based and /or through an online survey)?
  • Who is going to analyse and action the feedback that is captured from employees?
  • What topics and metric will be measured?
The trend towards ‘pulse’ surveys
While most HR professionals are probably already using some form of employee engagement tactics, Qualtrics is seeing a rising trend in the number of organisations moving to ‘pulse’ survey strategies to frequently measure their engagement levels and to drill down into a particular departmental issue. If an organisation is able to capture, analyse and action feedback in a timely manner, it will set itself up to deliver significant engagement improvements. If an organisation isn’t able to do this, the approach can have a detrimental impact. Employees will start to lose faith in the program and the organisation’s commitment to deliver. In the worst cases, the engagement program may disengage previously engaged employees. This may mean the organisation needs to start small and/or slowly prove their commitment and build credibility.

Interjecting at the right engagement points and offering assistance, recognition (monetary or other), and/or more information are the best ways to make your employees happy and keep them loyal to your company. This will give your staff assurance that they are well taken care of, their needs are being heard and actions are being implemented to address any issues.

Traditional employee engagement programs often take months to reach the stage of feedback to employees and the building of action plans. Today, gaining a comprehensive, real-time understanding of your employees’ needs and taking rapid action on that employee feedback is the key to reducing employee turnover for the year. This can only be achieved through leading online employee engagement platforms.
About the author
Bill McMurray is the Managing Director (Asia Pacific & Japan) of Qualtrics, an enterprise SaaS platform that makes it extremely easy for organisations to monitor and improve the vital signs of business. 

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