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in their workplace, and use them authentically and consistently to ensure employees are proud of their jobs and willing to go the extra mile. After all, increased engagement

doesn’t just help employees feel happier at work. Research by the CIPD and Towers Perrin has found that improved engagement can help drive organisational performance.4, 5

Pillar 1: Commitment

MacLeod argues that many engage- ment programmes are welcomed optimistically by employees, but that this enthusiasm starts to fade around three months later. By that point, the changes are in place but the benefits are yet to be seen. To maintain momentum, leaders

must visibly demonstrate their com- mitment to engagement. As MacLeod says: “If [employees] see you reading from notes, avoiding difficult or awk- ward issues, or seeming unsure about the engagement strategy, they will

Employee engagement should become part of every manager’s performance appraisal

remain doubtful, confused and unable to embrace the necessary changes.”6 To counteract these

problems, leaders should: ``

`` ``

present a clear plan for how the strategy will be implemented (the seven pillars can get them started)

tell a compelling story to employees about what they’re trying to achieve and how this will happen

win employees’ trust by outlining what will be expected of them and how the change will impact on their day-to-day responsibilities


remain visible and approachable at all times.

Crucially, the leader should invite input from their senior management team when they create their engagement strategy. Tis helps improve the quality of the strategy, ensures the message to employees is consistent, and helps foster support through co-ownership.

36 | October 2016 | Pillar 2: Get to the front line

It’s widely recognised that a presence on the shop floor can boost engage- ment, but many leaders remain out of touch with the views and concerns of the workforce.7

Tis can have a nega-

tive impact on the morale and motiva- tion of employees if they feel ignored and have no opportunity to raise their concerns with senior management. On the other hand, leaders who

keep in regular contact with front line employees and operational managers are aware of the challenges that are faced by their teams and can model desired behaviours and actions. A leader’s front line presence

can be improved by: ``

creating opportunities for informal face-to-face contact with employees rather than relying on communicating to them en masse at large, impersonal meetings


holding regular events (such as lunches or focus groups) with employees from different levels and locations to gather and gain an understanding of their views

`` ``

walking the floor of each department with key managers, asking questions and listening to employees’ concerns

launching a regularly updated blog or forum that can keep employees informed and solicit their feedback.

Pillar 3: Loudhailers to conversations

A leader who communicates their vision by shouting repeatedly is likely to lead a team that follows orders. But a leader who shapes a collective vision by conversing with their employees can develop a team that is committed to the organisation’s success. Tey do this by framing issues

as collective challenges, listening to what employees have to say, and by celebrating success as a team. Of course, leaders will not be able

to collect ideas from everyone in the organisation about every decision they make. At times, they will have to make big decisions on their own. But on a day-to-day basis they can create a sense of shared ownership of the organisation by changing the way they speak to employees. For example, the leader could:

`` ``

use ‘we’ and ‘us’, rather than ‘I’ or ‘me’ avoid the use of jargon or complex

terminology to ensure employees understand key messages


make it personal by using anecdotes, stories and metaphors to connect with employees about particular issues


invite employees to share their own ideas.

Pillar 4: The reservoir of wellbeing

Te way that an employee behaves at work depends on far more than just their written contract. A ‘psychological contract’ also exists, whereby engaged employees expect their employer to care about their overall wellbeing, and in return the employee cares about the success of the organisation. MacLeod likens this to a ‘reservoir

of wellbeing’, which is constantly topped up by positive aspects of employment – such as the respect of others, career development, fair rewards and a pleasant working environment. At the same time, this reservoir

is drained by irritating bosses, excessive travel, unreasonable demands and difficult colleagues.8 A leader who wants to keep

employees motivated and engaged (in other words, a leader who wants to maintain a healthy psychological contract) can do so by ensuring the reservoir is regularly topped up, and by dealing with ‘leaks’. For example, they can

ensure that: ``


`` `` `` ``


`` ``

reward and remuneration frameworks are perceived as fair

necessary tools are available (IT equipment, office space and so on) clear goals are set

achievements are recognised constructive feedback is given

there are opportunities to develop skills

health and wellbeing is a priority (both physiologically and psychologically)

poor performance is addressed workplace conflict is managed.

Ultimately, employees who feel their employer is looking out for their best interests are more likely to be engaged with the organisation.


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