Recently we met with HR leaders across a variety of European cities to discuss the question of how to be more agile in employee engagement programs. Eager to share the latest best practices and discuss common challenges, all of the participants are responsible for some aspect of employee engagement, whether it is the planning and delivery of the program, communication of results, or deriving insights to support calls for action or change.

The discussions reinforced that engagement surveys are shifting to a more frequent and continuous feedback approach. While we spent some time discussing the current state of employee engagement, we also devoted time to raising questions about where we think employee engagement is heading beyond 2019. Read on to learn about some of the key takeaways from our discussion with top HR leaders across Europe.

Agile employee engagement & actionable data are the future

Across the groups, one point of consensus was that the role of HR is changing, particularly within organizations that are becoming more agile. By making real-time engagement data and recommended action plans available to managers, HR is spending less time administering surveys and focusing more on coaching managers to interpret and effectively respond to the results.

The increasing use of social media is changing our expectations about how and when we give feedback. As a result, organizations need to more actively solicit, analyze, and respond to employee feedback as well. Having access to the collective “employee voice” can help leaders achieve diverse goals across the business while building a better connection to the organization. So, how can organizations manage this mutually beneficial feedback?

Some are seeing additional value from employee engagement results when they combine the data with team and organizational performance data. Does a lower engagement score predict a decrease in customer satisfaction or a rise in safety incidents, for example? Other metrics that might link to engagement data include employee retention, quality, and financial measures. How does HR develop the capability to capture, analyze and communicate results in a strategic way?

What HR leaders can do today

Contemplating the future is all well and good, but of course, we all need to think about what we can do today to improve employee engagement culture in our own organizations — regardless of where we are on the journey. Here are the three key elements that emerged as essential for any employee engagement program:

  1. Build trust and psychological safety.
    • Celebrate authenticity and curiosity even when it makes you uncomfortable.
    • Build trust by showing you trust others and by keeping your commitments.
  2. Make continuous improvement the goal.
    • Celebrate progress while recognizing the room to improve; reinforce a “can-do” attitude.
    • Enable continuous improvement through regular feedback on specific milestones toward goals.
  3. Have it mean something:
    • Celebrate change that results from feedback, and let people know that their feedback made a difference.
    • Give people insights that help them develop their teams and take advantage of opportunities.

I am grateful to all the participants for their invaluable contributions, and I look forward to continuing the discussions in more cities. I am lucky to be part of such a strong community of individuals committed to improving employee engagement in your own organizations.

I’d love to hear what you think about our discussion. If you would like to join the discussion—either at roundtables or any other future events—please sign up for updates on what’s happening with Glint in your part of the world. Or, find me on LinkedIn and we can continue the conversation.