A day for #EmployeeEngagement

Last Friday we held a #CIPRCHAT with @CIPR_UK and Jenni Wheller and Paul Summerhill from our committee joining the discussion. We created a storify of the chat you can see here.

Paul has shared his views and answers from the questions raised during the hour-long tweetchat.

So over to Paul:

Last Friday (18 July) I joined a Q&A session with Team GB Bobsleigh athlete and Winter Olympian Stu Benson in the morning and in the afternoon I watched the Red Arrows undertake an amazing display at Farnborough International Airshow. Both activities were thanks to my company (BAE Systems) and part of on-going activities to support employee engagement and help connect employees to the Company and its strategy.

Sandwiched in-between @CIPR_UK hosted a #CIPRCHAT all about #EmployeeEngagement with support from @ciprinside committee chair Jenni Wheeler (@jenniwheeler) and me (@PaulSummerhill) as the committee lead on #EmployeeEngagement.

The #CIPRCHAT has been summarised on Storify but I thought I’d share my view on what I think was a fantastic discussion on key area of interest.

QUESTION 1: Have you seen a change in how your organisation tells its story to employees – strategy/objectives/results/updates?

There was a lot of discussion and debate around storytelling and the fact that we’ve moved from just using ‘facts and figures’ to bring business messages and themes to life – increasingly we’re using the stories behind them to make them more real.

It was clear that facts and figures still have a place but encouraging leaders and employees to share their authentic stories – peer-to-peer – will not only help get people’s attention but will help the ‘story’ travel. New channels, such as employee social networks, will help support this approach.

But like any good story, when coming from the organisation it needs a clear structure and leaders and #internalcomms pros need to be understanding the purpose. As Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC) said: Key with storytelling is understanding the purpose – what do you want employees to think/feel/do/say differently as a result?

It seems the main aim is to use an approach that will help reiterate and help personalise what an individual’s role is in that organisation’s success.

Threads also emerged around the language we use in our communications and the language we use to describe our approach to communicating – does ‘storytelling’ as a term risk devaluing the activity and the aims?

QUESTION 2: So how are leaders responding to changes in the way organisational stories are being told? Are they supportive?

Organisations and leaders’ views vary, but a clear purpose and strong link to the strategy help get buy-in. However, the authenticity and openness required by leaders was viewed as part of the challenge in developing the approach.

However, if we can make the link to value and benefit such an approach can bring to the bottom line, it was felt leaders would be more supportive – which took us nicely on to…

QUESTION 3: How do you demonstrate the economic value in employee engagement to the business?? How does it improve productivity?

I felt this was an area where we struggled and the chat seemed to quieten down – probably because we all recognise we’re not as good at it as we should be.

Most organisations undertake annual surveys or more frequent ‘pulse’ surveys to gauge employee engagement (and other activities) but what else can we do?

Although there are various tools we can use across different channels to measure ‘click-through’ and see how things land, employee retention was ultimately seen by some as a key measure of engagement but finding that real, business focused measure still seems to be elusive.

As Jenni Wheeler said: “I don’t to read that 80% are engaged in the vision, I want to know what that means for the business.”

QUESTION 4: How can #internalcomms best support employees to have ‘a voice’ in an engaging organisation?

My personal view was that as we offer employees more channels, they will gravitate towards the ones that work best for them.

FINAL QUESTION: What does #internalcomms need from HR, Comms colleagues and managers/leaders?

A joined-up approach with early involvement and buy-in of all parties, underpinned by trust seemed to be the key.

For me, the #CIPRCHAT highlighted what a broad subject #EmployeeEngagement is, but the amount of debate and discussion showed that it is not one size fits all and that we can learn a lot from each other.

I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the #CIPRCHAT. In itself, it was a great example of what happens when you give people an opportunity to have their voice heard. The range of views that emerged prompted debate and I’m sure supported the transfer of good practice. The debate was pretty fast-paced and if I’ve missed something please get in touch.

On a day where I was heavily involved in #EmployeeEngagement, it was great to see #internalcomms take centre stage and @ciprinside plans to continue to give you a voice and opportunity to discuss, learn and share.

Thanks to Paul for sharing. If you have any comments, please do so below or on twitter.

For more on #EmployeeEngagement and #internalcomms join our free webinar for members on 7 August, 12:00 – 13:00

And check out the details of our conference on 2 October, changing behaviour for better business, just published.

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