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Personalised action plans hold the key to employee engagement, claims new review


Organisations can improve employee engagement by asking the right questions and providing a personalised list of manageable actions for each senior executive, line manager and individual, according to a new review by talent management software specialist Head Light.

“Employee engagement must be on HR’s agenda when time after time research studies show it can increase productivity, improve financial performance, lower attrition and raise customer satisfaction,” said Ian Lee-Emery, Managing Director of Head Light. “But there’s a difference between measuring engagement and actually taking action to drive it up. If you run an engagement survey and then find that there’s no clear action or direction to take, then disengagement can result, as the act of asking brings problem areas to the front of employees’ minds.”

Head Light claims that the principal reason why organisations fail to act after implementing an engagement survey is that they don’t ask the critical questions that will pinpoint exactly what action needs to be taken.

“Organisations often ask generic questions about attitudes, perceptions and job satisfaction but they don’t focus on the specific issues that drive engagement or the barriers that employees face,” said Ian Lee-Emery. “When it comes to analysing the survey data, they get blinded by too much information, so they can’t see where the real challenges lie or what actions they need to take to improve the situation. As one organisation cited, in the past they have ‘over asked and under acted’.”

To help organisations ask the critical questions in their engagement surveys, on the issues that matter to employees, Head Light has carried out a systematic review of published sources and engagement offerings. This analysis has uncovered 12 factors that really influence engagement. These are: wellbeing; motivation; reward and recognition; involvement; autonomy; teamwork and collaboration; purpose and meaning; relationships; trust; career/personal development; communication and performance management.

“Our review shows that these 12 universal factors fundamentally effect how people feel about their work and their employer,” said Debbie Hance, Head of Business Psychology at Head Light. “These are the key areas that organisations need to ask about in their engagement surveys. They should then prioritise a small number of personalised, ‘easy-to-implement’ actions that each of their senior executives, line managers and individual contributors can take, to create a more conducive work environment and improve any areas of disengagement. Even small changes can make a noticeable difference.”

Head Light has incorporated questions in these 12 areas in a new version of its engagement survey and analytics software, Talent En-Gauge®, which enables organisations to self-sufficiently create and manage their own engagement surveys and implement targeted engagement actions.

“Our intuitive software makes it easy for HR business partners to create a 15-20 minute survey that will query the areas that are most relevant for fostering engagement in their organisations,” said Ian Lee-Emery. “You can easily add in any other factors, values or performance indicators that you want to investigate. The software analyses the responses for you and it prioritises specific and meaningful ‘engagement actions’ for every employee, at every level. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to outsource the survey process and you’re not limited to the survey questions prescribed by a survey provider. Instead, you control the whole process, you own the data and you can interrogate it in any way to get the information you need.”