It seems we are no longer talking about internal communication but now the focus is on employee engagement. Unfortunately, the speed of change in the approach is not being mirrored within many organisations. Even when employee engagement gets mentioned the default position is back into instruction and one-way communication rather than active engagement.
I have been reading quite a lot on this subject recently and it seems that communicators universally agree that the situation has to change. Engagement though has to be about more than a word. It can’t be about telling employees something in a slightly different way. It needs to have a fundamental shift in the approach.
Reports show that if you can have an engaged workforce they will be more productive and can drive change in the organisation. It is because at the heart of it is connecting them to the purpose of the business. This should make achieving employee engagement easier within the public sector where there is a desire to help and improve people’s lives. At least that is what they join thinking and we need to ensure the organisation doesn’t squash that drive.
I was reading one article in Forbes.com which discussed employee engagement claiming it was essential to ‘increase productivity, execute business strategies, improve company performance and develop roles within the company’. One approach was to focus on strategic alignment, employee engagement, leadership, performance recognition and accountability all as the way forward.
One other essential element that I think is clear from the articles I have written is that to achieve the change in approach and really move away from internal communication it has to have the drive and support of the CEO or equivalent. They need to be out and about asking questions, listening and explaining. All too often the CEO can become focused on stakeholders and external communication which can present some of the most immediate risks. This can mean time is short to invest in effective employee engagement. It takes a progressive and forward-thinking CEO to recognise that change is needed and then to prioritise it.
There is no easy way to achieve employee engagement. It needs focus, investment and to be on the top of the ‘to-do’ list. Companies could be transformed if we get this right.