Online and Content Marketing specialist , HR Author & LinkedIn publisher Effectory International
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Interview: Astrid Erlandsson, employee engagement expert, Effectory International

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17th Sep 2014
Online and Content Marketing specialist , HR Author & LinkedIn publisher Effectory International
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Earlier this year you moved to Amsterdam to join Effectory International from Stockholm, where you were working for TNS-Sifo. Can you tell us what attracted you to your new role?

It was a great opportunity for me to develop professionally, and I was immediately drawn to the culture of the organisation.

Effectory International is an entirely flat organisation, which I know at first sounds a little unusual, but it produces a really special environment to work in. The energy and drive of the organisation also rubbed off on me, but I would say the number one reason was their focus on Europe and employee engagement.

Originally coming from the Netherlands, and then living in Sweden for such a long time meant that I really wanted to work for an organisation that has a strong European focus. Furthermore, employee engagement is something I’m really passionate about, and their approach of driving employee engagement through actionable survey insights immediately struck a chord with me.

An entirely flat organisation?

Yes! Essentially it means that we work without hierarchy or managers, and the teams are set up in such a way that they’re self-coordinating. It’s a strange idea I know, but it really does work.

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Learn more about Effectory International’s company structure in their HRZone blog series.

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Intriguing. You mention being drawn to the approach of driving employee engagement through actionable insights. Do you think there’s a gap in practical knowledge out there?

I would say so. One of the things I see in employee engagement literature is a lack of specialised European knowledge that is designed for people to use on a day-to-day basis. What I mean by this is that there is a lot of knowledge that is either too general, case-study specific, or knowledge that is either too complicated or too exclusive that it doesn’t empower the average reader. I think it’s a missed opportunity really, especially as the average readers are the general HR managers, line managers and employees that could really benefit from practical knowledge.

You said you typically partner with European multinationals. How do you provide your partners with actionable insights?

The insights we provide multinationals with are all based on the tailored employee surveys we conduct with them. Our focus lies in creating impact from the survey results, and making sure that there’s concrete action taken from the bottom up. I think it’s hard to say what insights we typically provide our partners with, but when we provide actionable insights into employee engagement we approach it on two levels: structural and operational.

Some of our most recent and interesting practical insights came as a result of recently conducting extensive research into employee engagement and commitment in Europe. We took a decision to really focus on employee engagement and commitment, as we believe employees with both these traits are of biggest value to organisations. Providing organisations with practical insights on how to increase employee engagement and commitment therefore seemed like one of the most valuable things we could do.

What were the results of the research and what should organisations focus on to improve employee engagement and commitment?

Well the research  focused on employee engagement and commitment, and specifically which employee survey questions and statements had the biggest influences on the two. Without going into too much detail, our analysis of the countries with the highest percentage of engaged and committed employees revealed some perhaps surprising insights. The top five didn’t include any of the European economic powerhouses, but did include two recent entrants into the EU and two Scandinavian countries. At the other end, I think Switzerland was the biggest surprise in the bottom five.

The research also discovered that the following four employee survey statements have the biggest influence on employee engagement and commitment in Europe:

  1. I feel that I fit in at my organisation
  2. I feel that I am appreciated by my organisation
  3. My manager motivates me in my work
  4. The work of my team contributes to the success of the organisation

So how would an organisation improve one of the above statements?

Rather than trying to get your head around engagement as a larger theme, what we can deduce from the research is that if an employee, CEO, or manager wants to improve employee engagement, they should focus on improving one of the above four statements.

So for example, if a manager wanted to improve the statement my manager motivates me in my work, the following four points are concrete and actionable steps that can be taken:

  • Get to know your employees and what motivates them. Having the knowledge to be able to successfully maintain motivation levels is essential.
  • Apply situational leadership where possible. Unfortunately there’s not one single magic leadership style and a balance of several styles is best suited to keeping employees motivated in the long term.
  • Provide employees with regular feedback, both positive and constructive. It makes employees feel appreciated and gives them the necessary information to develop.
  • Inform employees which organisational goals they can contribute to and be clear about any developments. These are often overlooked, but are vital to employee’s motivation.

Astrid Erlandsson

Business Development Manager, Effectory International

Before joining Effectory International as a business development manager, Astrid Erlandsson worked in Sweden with TNS-Sifo.

During her time in Sweden Astrid also worked for several years with the retail giant H&M, and has since gone on to became an expert in both employee engagement and retail.

 

Download ‘The essential guide to driving employee engagement’ today.

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