Many a times, I find that HR folks rush too fast to make employee engagement metrics a part of KPIs or balanced scorecards. The idea is that there should be a “carrot” to ensure that managers take accountability for their people, otherwise they won’t spend time on open dialogue with their teams and co-create action plans for improvement in engagement levels. I was recently asked if the carrot and stick approach could be abandoned in favour of inculcation of engagement as a part of life in the organisation. Well, I think it is a difficult proposition for companies which are starting their engagement journeys. Inculcation of the engagement principles is a long journey of education for managers.
I had a chance to work with a company in the Middle East sometime back. Here is what they did over a 4-5 year period when it comes to building accountability for action planning:
- Since managers were not sensitive regarding employee engagement and had very transactional relationships with employees, the company set engagement targets linked with bonus payments. However, the engagement target was not merely an increase in scores year on year. This is not a great measure as it can lead to fudging of scores. So, this company looked at a few things: 4% weightage for increase in scores year on year, 4% weightage for exceeding industry benchmark, 4% weightage for exceeding national benchmark, 4% weightage for submitting action plans to HR dept. and 4% weightage for submitting a mid-year update on the action plan.
- Side by side, they wanted to gradually make engagement a part of their core principles, a part of their corporate lingo on a daily basis. The best bet was to get the leaders to drive this. The first task that was done was to prepare a solid business case demonstrating the business impact of engagement on measures like profitability, revenues, attrition etc. Once the leadership team was on-board, the leadership team decided that they will start any meeting, forum, town-hall, event etc. with the topic of engagement, before touching on business issues. This was because engagement is a business issue. Over a period of years, employees, even at the lower levels of the hierarchy, now have a basic idea about engagement and speak the language. And, the company is even mulling de-linking engagement targets from manager KPIs!
How is your organisation ensuring that the employee engagement initiative doesn’t lose steam? How are managers being made accountable? How is HR and the leadership team facilitating the change process?