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The secret ingredient

People engagement is big business. Get it right and your profits, morale, wellbeing and retention will soar. Get it wrong, or worse still, do nothing, and you may as well hold open the door and watch your best people walk straight into the welcoming arms of the competition.

With a plethora of agencies publicising the latest in engagement tools, technology, techniques and reports, why is it that engagement levels seem to be stagnating in places like the US and UK? Business leaders have a wealth of experience and information at their fingertips, and yet, a vibrant, harmonised working culture still alludes many and remains a distant dawn.

So what is this magic formula that makes some organisations feel more cohesive and united than others? Is it simply hard work and big engagement budgets or could it be something else, something so basic that it’s often overlooked?

With the Six Nations in full flow in Europe and the strategic minds of Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones vying for supremacy, what they, and all sports coaches agree on, it’s about understanding the basics, executing them well and doing them consistently which is key to success, on and off the field. The same analogy can be applied to employee engagement insofar there’s very little point in rolling out an all-encompassing, high budget engagement programme if the audience isn’t ready to listen or they’ve yet to experience the fundamentals that will underpin long term success.

Our experience has shown there are three main factors that separate a good business from a highly successful one:

  1. They invest time to understand the essence of what makes them great and distil in to simple, working processes.
  2. They not only provide an exceptional client or customer service but also promote a bottom up, collaborative culture with clear communication channels.
  3. They listen to what makes their people tick, and adapt accordingly.

The magic is then bottled and sprinkled in liberal amounts throughout the organisation on a daily basis.

The good news is a sustainable, cohesive culture isn’t exclusive and doesn’t need huge amounts of financial investment. What is required, is for leaders to visibly demonstrate their willingness and commitment, and critically, align their business strategy to desired cultural behaviours and outcomes. This alone, however will not create a holistic, engagement culture.

For many organisations, the crucial element often missing is actually something far simpler. In fact, it’s one of the most basic human functions that dictates our professional and social make up; COMMUNICATION. It’s why humans are top of the food chain; it’s how we continue to evolve and thrive. It’s why we are surrounded with an endless stream of innovation. Conversely, the lack of communication can create tension, misunderstanding and inefficiencies. Whether we do it intentionally or subconsciously, we communicate constantly.

The ability to communicate a story or complex business process that resonates with the intended audience, that produces the desired outcomes, is indeed a powerful tool. It’s the glue that helps unite people with organisational visions, values and culture. Knowing how to communicate and doing it consistently will underpin and provide the cornerstones of any successful, sustainable engagement programme, that in turn, will promote collaboration and increase discretionary effort.

Employee engagement is without doubt a complex beast because people are complex, with individual requirements and where one size definitely doesn’t fit all. Successful businesses adopt various techniques and approaches that combine to produce a seamless, united culture that ultimately makes people feel wanted, appreciated and valued.

So the next time someone says, “What are we doing to improve our company engagement or culture?”, ask yourself, do we truly understand our people? Are we doing the basics well? Are we actually communicating with them? And remember, communication is a two-way process. If no one is listening, then you’re simply talking to yourself…

Article: Nick Dean, Sales & Marketing Director, Passion Inc.