How does employee engagement impact effective corporate governance?

A happy and supported workforce is more likely to be a successful one. Generally, successful employee engagement results in a workforce who feel better understood and safe within the workplace. This, in effect, should enable employees to grow and succeed, feel protected when they need to be and to feel that they are developing against their own objectives. Often an engaged employee is more likely to act in the best interest of their employer, and to give more ‘discretionary effort’ in their work. 

But effective employee engagement is more complex than just running a survey or listening exercise. Recent engagement surveys worldwide and across different sectors indicate that while employees enjoy monetary reward, what they are also looking for and seldom get is appreciation and recognition, and a greater sense of purpose and connection within the workplace and the job that they do.  

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is multifaceted, requires a tailored approach and needs to be based on an exercise of continuous and consistent listening – rather than a one off, static record of employee morale. Listening to every part of your business will give you the most informed idea of true organisational culture, so it is critical to utilise HR teams to tap into this insight (whilst recognising that it is not solely the responsibility of HR – the Board must play a key role). The level of transparency and integrity your organisation demonstrates is directly linked to an effective and formal employee engagement scheme. This is why is it is so critical to effective corporate governance. It gives employees the space to relay concerns to the Board anonymously, prompting understanding of the positive and cultural impact a Board and its decisions can have, and giving employees an important ‘voice’. 

It should go without saying that an engaged workforce will result in better retention and employee satisfaction. It also plays a significant role in team continuity and institutional knowledge. This is key for corporate governance. Staff being exposed to consistent messaging and communications from senior leadership, as well as a foundation of knowledge in the way things should work, will help an organisation operate in the way it should. 

A high turnover of staff means that there is a greater risk of a workforce not understanding how an organisation is run, and how they should act. This is dangerous for any organisation, and indeed is a reliable measure that things are perhaps not working as they should. Commercially, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that engaged employees also positively impact productivity and customer service – a win-win for everyone.  

What does an effective employee engagement strategy look like? 

If you choose to have an engagement survey – structure it in the right way and run it regularly. Having a static snapshot of how a workforce feel only has limited use. 

Enable employees to escalate concerns – make sure there are both formal and informal channels for this to happen including a whistleblowing or speak up line.

Focus on engagement at a local level as well as national. There may be local trends that are overlooked if the data is considered at too high a level. 

Foster an environment for continuous listening.

Empower your senior leadership, Boards, managers by making them accountable for their own engagement plans.

Be honest with the business – if things are not perfect, do not pretend they are because your workforce will see through this. 

Have talented, qualified managers in place, and continue to invest in their development.

Define engagement goals in realistic, everyday terms so that success can be measured. 

For more information on measuring employee engagement, contact Hannah Gibson-Patel.

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