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Employee engagement research and best practices


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Growing your business requires investment—but with so many competing priorities, where should you focus your time, money and expertise?

Start with a resource you already have that can drive both profitability and customer satisfaction: your employees.

Studies have proven that companies with engaged employees had 2.6 times the earning per share growth of companies with below average employee engagement and 86% higher success rates on customer metrics.

In our latest white paper, learn the four key requirements of effective employee engagement and how treating your employees like customers can improve your business.

Published in: Recruiting & HR, Marketing

Employee engagement research and best practices

  1. 1. The all-consuming employee – Employee engagement in the age of experience
  2. 2. Introduction – A quick refresher on why CEOs care about employee engagement Imagine you’re a CEO and you see data proving that investing time, money and expertise in an area of your organization could improve your customer experience and your financial results. Wouldn’t you make that investment without hesitation? That’s employee engagement: the more involved and enthusiastic staff feel about their work and their employer brand, the more successful that employer will be. But here’s the thing: companies are spending on employee engagement initiatives, but far too often that investment isn’t having the impact it could— because employee engagement programs are lackluster, behind-the-times and just plain lame. This white paper addresses how to create better employee engagement programs. It’s simple: just treat employees like the consumers they are. Jon Paul Potts Communications Strategist Katie Chatfield Creative Strategist 2
  3. 3. Employee engagement rankings – For 40 years, Gallup has studied employee engagement and its effect on individual and organizational workplace performance outcomes.¹ 3 Top quartile organizations 2.6x greater earnings per share growth than competitors ranked below average for employee engagement Top half organizations 70% 44% higher success in lowering turnover higher profitability More engaged employees make customers happier, too. According to the same study, companies with higher employee engagement show 86% higher success rates on customer metrics. Forrester has shown just how valuable a better customer experience can be: For instance, in the hotel industry, moving from a below-average customer experience to an above-average customer experience could mean an annual upside of more than $1.1 billion USD for a hotel.²
  4. 4. 4 Imagine you’re a consumer-facing brand, trying to get the attention of people in their daily lives. Of course you work hard to get their attention across every conceivable touchpoint: through phones and laptops and tablets and rich media experiences. Of course you think through your messaging and understand that not all consumers are alike; they’re people, with human-scale differences of culture and perspective. And of course you never take consumers’ attention for granted; you know you’re competing for people’s attention so you push your brand to be creative and cut-through. So why do brands so often fail to bring the same game to their employees that they do to their customers? The problem –E mployee programs aren’t what they need to be
  5. 5. 44 Employee communications are often flat, uninspiring, filled with legalese and bad clip art. Cheesy stock photo, anyone? As an employer, you can’t take your workforce’s attention for granted. You need to market to them, just as you do to your potential customers. You need to bring creativity to your communications and think multichannel—reinforcing the purpose of their work as part of the brand and business vision in the context that’s right for them. Don’t just send out 10,000 emails and call it a day. Equally, don’t assume that employee engagement drivers are universal. Operating in the multicultural, multigenerational and multichannel world represents new challenges for leaders trying to drive high levels of employee engagement. Organizations that invest in understanding and managing the key drivers of engagement across multiple constituencies will drive better performance. Employee programs aren’t what they need to be – 5
  6. 6. Top engagement drivers by geography 6
  7. 7. United Kingdom Australia United States 1 Being treated with respect Working environment where I can provide good service Work-life balance Quality of organizational leadership Type of work I do Brazil 1 2 3 4 5 Being treated with respect Work-life balance Type of work I do Quality of people I work with Quality of organizational leadership India 1 2 3 4 5 Type of work I do Base pay Quality of organizational leadership Working environment where I can provide good service Promotion opportunities 1 2 3 4 5 Being treated with respect Quality of organizational leadership Work-life balance Quality of people I work with Working environment where I can provide good service 1 2 3 4 5 Being treated with respect Type of work I do Work-life balance Base pay Working environment where I can provide good service China 1 2 3 4 5 Quality of organizational leadership Base pay Benefits Being treated with respect Learning & development opportunities 2 3 4 5 Top five engagement drivers by geography Source: Mercer ³
  8. 8. 8 People are all different—jobs, life stages, circumstances—and brands need to take this into account in employee communications in the same way they segment their consumers. This is why internal segmentation is as important in employee communications as consumer modeling can be when you take your brand out into the world. Yet amidst the diversity of engagement drivers, there is a common thread for workers: they want to be treated with respect by their employers and feel inspired at their place of employment—and that means they want to be engaged as the consumers they are. They expect you to be just as truthful, transparent, inspiring, agile and relevant as the other brands in their lives. But how?
  9. 9. 9 Brand to everyone – Four key requirements We know that there’s a correlation between employee engagement, customer experience and financial performance. What’s the impact on brand? Brands that deliver relevant, compelling and consistent brand experiences for every stakeholder, where the consumer value proposition and the employee value proposition reinforce and reflect each other, experience the amplification effect of a “brand to everyone” or “B2E” approach. B2E thinking ensures that your own people and channel partners deliver a great experience to your end-user customers. Driving the brand from the inside out creates a stronger foundation for effective, meaningful brand experiences with customers and consumers. But what are the building blocks to B2E thinking? What’s the starting point for effective employee engagement?
  10. 10. Be purpose led – 110 A night at the movies How do you convince thousands of Create impactful experiences employees that a significant change in anchored in the business and how they do their job was a good thing? How about a night out at the movies? A brand’s purpose, ambition, large telecommunications company in and intent Asia Pacific was launching a new internal digital platform that all employees would need to embrace. Since people have a hard time adapting to change, the launch Be true to your brand. If you’re telling experience integrated both live and digital your consumers one thing, don’t tell your touchpoints to drive excitement and generate employees something different. Your buzz across the company, including employees should understand how their online banners and snail mail that invited work connects to the brand, and be able employees to register for a free movie to deliver the brand to your customers. night. These live movie nights at local movie Develop a roadmap enabling your houses became engaging “surprise and people to understand the brand’s delight moments” for the employees. They purpose, future relevance, beliefs and were invited to view a film of their choice, promise. and in return before the screening began, a member of the company’s leadership team Agree what success looks like, get buy-in gave a short introduction on the new digital at the top and engage key stakeholders. platform and showed a 10-minute animated video explaining the new tool. The results? 94% of employees reported they understood the digital strategy.
  11. 11. 2 11 Build intuitively designed experiences – Anticipate how employees will want to participate, and design to enable those interactions Taking it to the next level Employees at one of the world’s largest professional firms saw themselves as high-performers—so driving acceptance of a new global strategy aimed at unlocking more discretionary effort meant overcoming skepticism and inspiring change. Treating the firm’s partners and staff as savvy consumers, what could have been a ho-hum internal communications effort was transformed into a full-blown political-style campaign, with local Town Halls, an employee manifesto, microsite and leadership “stump speeches”. Nearly 100% of the 22,000-person workforce participated, in a campaign that 95% of employees rated as excellent. Segment your workforce. Understand the split across your demographics, how many people are mobile versus desk bound, and who has access to what channels of communication. Anticipate how employees will participate in communication and enable positive interaction, immerse, engage and invite participation and dialogue (don’t just train and communicate). Remember that—like a good ad campaign, which can take 12 to 18 months to take hold— engagement takes time and change can be difficult. Create your internal brand through a series of experiences that build on each other and are connected by a strong messaging thread.
  12. 12. Create useful employee experiences – 312 Add value for your employees and help them be advocates for your brand Make it relevant, and make it about them. Build a culture that celebrates the people who live the brand, deliver it to customers, and can articulate it clearly—no matter their position in the organizational hierarchy. Be creative and accessible. The quality and sophistication of the content should be of the same standard as you would use to talk to your consumers. Remember that engagement depends as much on context and as it does on content. Understand the world your employees live in, and treat them as if they have other options to get information.
  13. 13. 4 8 Measure twice, communicate once – Understand what’s working, and count what matters (not just what can be counted) Employees as celebritites 13 Scott & White Healthcare was growing fast, hiring new talent and opening new healthcare facilities in Texas. However, there was a downside to tremendous growth: a collection of hospitals and clinics each with their own culture, all of them talking about the brand differently. The most relevant way to inspire disparate staff to embrace a common cause? Tap into social media culture and make employees the celebrities in support of a larger culture campaign. A cultural manifesto was hung in halls and break rooms, and placed on mousepads, videos and screen savers, on buttons and ID clips. Unlike other corporate campaigns the staff had seen before, these communications featured “in the moment” photography of people they knew and worked with every day, people who served as models of the overarching cultural values. The employees were the celebrities and heroes. Gallup scores improved, resulting in PR Week’s award for “Employee Communications Campaign of the Year.” Don’t restrict yourself to an annual survey (often managed centrally and comprising a huge number of questions). Yes, you’ll get detailed reports across a large number of metrics—but you need more than a once a year snapshot. Take a page from the Net Promoter playbook: survey employees more often, ask a few simple questions, and simplify the reporting. How likely would you be to recommend this company to a friend as a place to work? How likely would you be to recommend the company’s products or services to a potential customer? What’s the primary reason for your response? Let employees to use their own words to identify opportunities and issues. However difficult to hear—employees tend to be tough graders—you’ll be better equipped to meet employee needs. Convene a panel of employees from across the organization and ask them about the health of your brand. An employee who feels heard can be the most passionate brand ambassadors, motivating peers and partnering with leadership.
  14. 14. Everyone’s a consumer – Training a lifestyle A leading consumer electronics company was launching a new device and needed to train sales reps on the device. Since the new device was built to meet the lifestyle needs of consumers, the training was built the same way. Rather than dry presentations and training off-sites, the sales enablement program tapped the energy of consumer marketing to inspire sales reps to sell the device with passion and clarity. A nine-city training tour in the US invited reps to local clubs to see local bands and try out the device. The events showcased the features of the device, but also kicked off a “Battle of the Bands” to find an ultimate winning band. The B2B training events merged with the sales reps’ consumer worlds, building a passionate and engaged advance audience that led to an amazing viral campaign at launch. Loyal, passionate employees can offer your brand as much benefit as loyal, passionate consumers. They stay longer, work harder, work more creatively, and find ways to go the extra mile. And along the way, they bring you more great employees. Just as your customers consume your brand, so are your employees constantly evaluating how you talk to them, how they feel about the place they work, and whether you are engaging them as an employer. Treat them with the same care and attention as consumers, and engage them across multiple touch points, with the same heart, sophistication and intelligence as you would consumers. 14
  15. 15. Talk to us – Contact Melinda Lindland SVP, New Business and Group Account Director Read our blog at Follow us on twitter @jackmorton Visit us online at ¹ Follow This Path: How the World’s Greatest Organizations Drive Growth by Unleashing Human Potential, Curt Coffman and Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina. ² The Business Impact of Customer Experience ( uploads/2013/11/The-Business-Impact-Of-Customer-total.pdf) ³ What’s Working (2011) a survey of 30,000 workers in 17 global markets. 15 About Jack Morton We’re a global brand experience agency. We generate breakthrough ideas, connecting brands and people through experiences that transform business. Our portfolio of award-winning work spans 75 years across event marketing, sponsorship marketing, promotion and activation, experience strategy, employee engagement, digital, social, and mobile. Ranked at the top of our field, Jack Morton is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG). More information is available at: or @jackmorton © Jack Morton Worldwide 2014