What is your top tip for improving employee engagement in 2010?

I’ve been asking this question a lot lately. Why?

Well I’m seeing lots of research indicating that people are drifting from the fixed grin of relief at being glad to keep their jobs, to a position of wanting to feel more engaged with their work.

Organisations therefore face challenges in engaging and trusting a workforce which is motivated and willing to deliver the service needed to help create and sustain a profitable and purposeful business model.

This feels like a time of great opportunity for people and organisations who can create a sense of trust and autonomy in the workplace. I’m interested to know how you would help to achieve that?

Been receiving some very interesting and useful replies fro across the globe. Here are a few, many thanks to all the contributors and there will be more to follow soon:

Neeraj Sharma wrote:

I suggest employees be given a week or two to work on whatever they wish to work on – and document what they did, what was achieved and how much they enjoyed doing it as compared to their regular responsibilities. The salesperson may design a logo, the accountant may decide to deal with customers etc. It will shake things up, they will feel refreshed as well as challenged, and develop a new perspective and an appreciation for what others do. Some may find their calling.

Ulco Landheer wrote:

I’d have as many employees as possible rotate through an organization (or department or business unit) a few (1-2) hours per month to somewhat random positions. For example, during a meeting of one team, you’d have their work done by random selected people from other teams. That way you’d make sure that the right hand actually knows what the left hand is doing. It’s something I found out to increase the respect between different bloodgroups and the understanding between employees.

Phil Johnson wrote:

Gallup has identified a link between the amount of authentic leadership (leading without a title) within a company and it’s level of employee
engagement. Employees have been shown to increase their level of “discretionary energy” and engagement if they are inspired by the actions of others around them.

Kevin Hardern wrote:

In my experience with large and smaller organisations, the steps are very similar:

– define an end vision and organisational structure to support it which clearly demonstrate value to the workforce and its clients;

– engage some people in the workforce to help define the steps on the way to achieve that end goal, ‘transition states’ which themselves deliver vale along the way

– resource the implementation plan sufficiently but not excessively

External help may be needed to deliver, but the focus should remain equally balance between the tasks and the people, communicating with them regularly and honestly, even when problems occur. People are not stupid and if they are trusted, see value in what is being attempted they will help achieve the change rather than push against it.
The difference between having the people on side and helping achieve a goal is the single most significant factor in achieving successful change in my experience. Most organisations fail because they focus on the tasks in hand and do not tap into this massive resource which is available and if asked, willing.

Formal Interview vs X Factor Panel vs You Got a Better Way?

Job candidates may be hired depending on the order in which they are interviewed, in the same way X Factor contestants who sing later in the show are less likely to be voted off, research indicates. In an article published by Personnel Today, we see that researchers at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School have been investigating what gives winning game-show contestants the edge. They found that the order in which contestants perform plays an important role in their success.

Wyn Llewellyn, Director at ValueFlows Ltd, observed, “An interesting piece of research and a creative and invalid extrapolation – from X factor to recruitment process. A conflicting hypothesis might be – the later you are in the process, the more tired and jaded the selection panel will be, they may have seen a ‘star’ earlier and become biased towards them, etc.

Also consider the following; professional recruiters are working to clear selection criteria and are professionally trained to do so – the public who vote in X factor have neither of these characteristics – they just vote for who they like! Wait a minute – maybe a proportion of recruiters do that too!”

This got me thinking…

So hang on a minute. How many initial applicants for a role would you expect to be able to fulfil the requirements? 1 in 10 maybe? And how often would you expect the interview process to deliver the right results? Most experts would say that a 7 out of 10 success rate of interview process delivering right result is high. Hey, it’s nearly Christmas so let’s be generous and say 8 times out of 10.

Using these assumptions the chances of selecting the right candidate are about 2 to 1 against (and if you do turn the dial to a 7 out of 10 hit rate on interview process the odds against correct selection increase to nearly 4 to 1 against).

Let’s do the maths:

1000 applicants, 900 can not do the job, 100 can.

Of the 900 who cannot do the job, an 80% correct interview process will deliver:

720 of the 900 correctly identified as not able
180 of the 900 as able, even though they are not

Of the 100 who can do the job, an 80% correct interview process will deliver:

80 identified as able
20 identified as not able, even though they are

So if we divide the 180 incorrect able candidates by the 80 able candidates, 180/80 gives us 2.25 to 1 against.

So if the formal interview seems to correlate so poorly (if at all) with future effectiveness, well maybe we’d be better off taking our chances with Simon Cowell et al after all? At the very least this leaves me wondering if we should be considering alternative ways of connecting the right people with the right job role…what do you think?