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Employee engagement is an entirely personal affair

12Mar Posted by Tom Clive

In the current economic climate, many businesses are simply not in a position to give pay rises to their employees. With the costs of living spiralling upwards; many employees are actually becoming less well-off. It is during these times that employee recognition becomes even more important as a way of retaining your finest talent without alluring them with larger pay cheques. Employee recognition must be personal, sincere and come from the right people. Indeed, it only has meaning when it comes from the people who benefit your behaviour or have direct interests in your achievements.

Many larger multinational corporations fail to fully engage with their employees. What is frustrating is that it’s the small, personal touches that make all the difference. Imagine you work for a company where the Human Resources department arranges for every employee to receive a bouquet of flowers on the anniversary of (his or hers) first day at work. The computer generates a list of employees with upcoming anniversaries, an HR employee creates the purchase order, and a florist delivers your flowers. Then imagine that your Manager walks past your desk and says ‘Oh, is it your anniversary today?’

Does it matter that the people in your HR department know that it’s your anniversary? Unless you have a relationship with HR, it probably doesn’t. For most people, this kind of recognition has about as much value as a computer-generated birthday greeting from their insurance company. Recognition that comes directly from recognition program administrators is cold, impersonal and a waste of company resources. In sharp contrast; authentic, relevant engagement that shows direct acknowledgement and appreciation can go a long way.

This is not to say that all HR and outsourced recognition administrators are meaningless; they play a vital role in the administrative and logistical function. In the example above, HR can still generate the anniversary list and raise the Purchase Order providing that the plant and anniversary card is personally delivered by a direct line manager who is personally recognising the employees’ efforts over the last year. Furthermore, HR’s value can be leveraged by designing and implementing great programs, training managers on the organisation’s recognition programs and coaching managers and supervisors on dealing with their teams. HR is there to support recognition efforts but not to deliver them directly.

Internal Communications are incredibly important in driving growth, retaining your best talent, having employees that are ambassadors of the brand and reducing absenteeism. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) estimated that in 2008, absenteeism cost the British Industry a staggering £13.2 billion. A business will perform if its people are motivated to perform. It’s the people that make the difference for customers who create, sell and recommend products.

It is the little touches to engage employees that can and do make the difference. Social events such as cinema trips, fundraising quiz nights and team outings don’t cost a fortune to implement; they just require a little effort and thought.

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Comments (1)

Rob Sheldon posted 16th March 2012
Interesting points made here Tom and a well written piece. I am dubious however, at the thought that a delivery of a bunch of flowers by my manager will stimulate me to perform better in my job. Whilst I understand this is just a simple example to make the point that it's the personal touches that matter, I would be astounded if anybody in an organisation (large or small) really would be that bowled over by the delivery of a bunch of flowers on "their anniversary". Just as you make reference to in the opening gambit, the economy is what matters, and in that case, you can keep your flowers and instead I'll take the cash in a birthday card thank you very much. After all, unlike the flowers, your cash won't die in a week.

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