How to help staff love your company strategy
PIPER (People Insight Peak Engagement Research), a new study from employee engagement organisation People Insight, asks the most engaged employees in the most engaged organisations what exactly makes them buzz.
This is the second in a series (see the first here) sharing the secrets from top performing organisations - practices and behaviours that we know have engaged, because employees themselves have said so.
Cancer Research UK and Henderson Global Investors
Both Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and global asset manager Henderson Global Investors are in the top quartile of organisations, defined by having an engagement score in the top 25% of the hundreds of organisations we survey. They couldn’t be more different, but a key engaging practice that unites them is how they embed company strategy so employees feel passionate about and driven by it.
Of course, that may be perceived as an easier objective for a charity to achieve. After all, turning up to the office and helping to beat cancer each and every day is a powerful incentive, particularly as so many people will have been affected by the disease themselves.
It is not just the cause at CRUK
CRUK hasn’t rested on its laurels. Indeed, what makes the organisation stand above the rest is its tireless efforts to create a connection between staff and the mission.
It's not easy to unite an organisation towards a common goal yet CRUK manages this, in part by keeping staff updated with the progress of its strategy in meaningful ways, and empowering them to contribute to the success.
“Curing cancer is the number one reason I am here. However it is not the only thing that keeps me here, it’s many factors such as: feeling satisfied in my job, feeling trusted, being a part of something that is bigger than you, and having the empowerment to get things done.”
From regional roadshows and passion talks to visual overviews of the strategy and regular email updates, every single person knows where the charity is heading. In many ways it’s breaking down the enormity into manageable chunks so that regular successes build momentum.
Think like a charity
Perhaps thinking like a charity could benefit many organisations; what CRUK has done is treat every exercise as an opportunity to engage people internally as well as externally. Initiatives like World Cancer Day generate huge levels of engagement at head office before they get rolled out, meaning staff see the impact the campaigns have when they hit the public.
Add to this the regular fundraising updates, directorate away days, road shows and community lobbying encouraging staff to support initiatives involving the external ‘Ambassadors Programme’ and it’s clear that CRUK has embraced its role in connecting staff to the strategy. They encourage people to comment on what CRUK could do to be more efficient via their survey and a year-round email address. A recent charity-wide effectiveness programme (Fit For the Future) got more than a third of staff involved in ideas workshops.
Make the strategy meaningful for every one
So how does Henderson’s approach to communicating the strategy manage to achieve similar traction? What is clear from employees’ feedback is the effort leaders have made to ensure employees understand exactly how the target growth and goals will be achieved, not just what the targets are. This makes the strategy very tangible and achievement a very realistic possibility.
“People can see the journey the company is on…… it’s coming true, and people can see it.”
Authentic communication builds belief
Implementing the strategy is more than a top-down approach for both organisations.
For Henderson's leaders it is vital that every employee understands the company’s direction. All the employees interviewed spoke of the positive impact the communication of the “Growth and Globalisation” strategy had on their motivation to perform well – namely because of the clarity and consistency of the communications, delivered in a punchy style rather than long-winded and over-polished.
Employees feel like the genuine truth is being communicated rather than vague and secretive information.
“We hear what they are saying, and see what they achieve.”
Timing of this communication is key, providing a lift where necessary and a further boost when momentum is being gathered.
As well as a conference launch and management cascade, senior figures ensured every employee received a copy of the strategy. Videos of client experiences were shared on the intranet, highlighting how each department was responsible for delivering high quality customer service. Moreover, departmental workshops took place to embed the strategy and to help employees identify how their contribution helps deliver the overall strategy.
Earn credibility by communicating the how
With the implementation of the new strategy employees at CRUK received a detailed plan on what was happening and when. It wasn’t just about the funding but also about how each department was getting involved. The executive board has been key in communicating the strategy and the rationale for the change with a high level of transparency, acknowledging that achieving the ambition of seeing three in four people survive cancer cannot be achieved without teamwork.
‘The executive board is good at painting the vision and getting people behind it.’
While both organisations have demonstrated exceptionally well-embedded strategies, they consistently seek to improve. Watch out for the next PIPER article, where we’ll look at how their line management contributes to their peak engagement performance.
Is your organisation in the top quartile of engaging organisations?
Talk to us at People Insight to find out how your engagement levels compare with your peers, and find out how you can improve.
To be in with a chance of being recognised externally, enter The Employee Engagement Awards’ Employee Choice Award 2015 here.
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Carolyn is responsible for HR and marketing at People Insight, an employee engagement consultancy who help hundreds of the UK’s best known organisations measure and improve their engagement. Carolyn writes both from research and her career perspective in both small and colossal organisations. She is passionate about finding out what makes the...