Staff Engagement

Behaviour Change: Engaging Like Minds

Compliance is not just about management systems or policies; it’s about people engagement, unfortunately we still see people following the old fashioned notion that a manager has to be independent, strong and stand back from their workers to get respect; otherwise they will be seen as weak and unable to control the business.

Courtesy of: David Whitting – Health, Safety and Environmntal Manager, Open University

man-1071770_1280Ask anyone who has tried to start a behaviour change programme they will quickly tell you about skeletons in the employee engagement closet.
How hard it was to develop and implement effective programs, how few people participated, how hard they were to scale – especially globally.

Even those with successful participation rates will tell you how hard it was to measure the results and the return.

But new digital and mobile platforms are making comprehensive and effective programs not only easier to rollout and scale broadly, but highly measurable and defensible from an ROI standpoint.

Will an employee engagement platform focused on positive actions start to become a “must” for every company committed to sustainability and responsibility?

Although the term employee engagement is widely used in management practice literature, definitions vary widely between academia & practice.

Organisational definitions of engagement tend to refer to engagement with the organisation and describe it in terms of employee outcome behaviours (such as going the extra mile, demonstrating commitment to the organisational values and objectives).
Academic definitions in contrast tend to place more emphasis on engagement with roles and tasks and define engagement as a cognitive state (what engagement feels like rather than what it produces).
One potential reason so many companies don’t actively address sustainability despite the attention paid to it by the media and some consumers and investors is that many have no clear definition of it.
Companies are defined as being most engaged with sustainability if their executives say that sustainability is a top-three priority in their CEOs’ agendas, that it is formally embedded in business practices, and that their companies are “extremely” or “very effective” at managing it.

These companies are much likelier than others to reap value in the form of reputation building, cost savings, and growth opportunities. Energy companies, not surprisingly, also take a more active approach.

Collaboration: Cross-departmental collaboration and integration are vital to sustainability employee engagement. When seeking to involve employees in sustainability, it’s important for your sustainability team to consider with whom else in the organisation it could build an alliance, while identifying shared core values and cultural barriers.

Clients and business partners: Individual client visits, participation at trade fairs and conferences, client/industry events, satisfaction surveys and expert interviews.

Investor markets: One-on-ones with investors, international road shows, press releases, financial reports, participation in ratings and capital market conferences and during the Annual General Meeting.

Government and politics: Workshops/sharing of information and opinions with supervisory authorities and political leaders, and corporate reporting.

Society: Provision of information to the public, corporate reporting, press releases, information sharing in educational and charitable projects.

What can employers do?

To achieve sustainable employee engagement, you need managers to make the behaviours set out in the ‘managing for sustainable employee engagement’ framework part of their management approach.

You can support this through many of your people management processes and looking outside the box for example:

Clients’ clients: competitors, associations, academia, unions and social networks: Participation in discussions and association events, projects including academics and social media.

Your sustainability efforts should engage diverse functional areas within the organisation, as well as external stakeholders where it would be mutually beneficial to partner.

Great safety leaders change behaviour and help establish a safety culture by engaging minds and hearts, setting examples, encourage, coach, inspire, discipline fairly, and effectively communicate.

A great communicator. Effective communication is a lost skill—talking “to” not “at” people; open body language; proper choice of words; and the discipline of evaluating the situation and gathering the facts before talking with the employee.
A motivator. Bob Nelson, author and motivational speaker said it best: “You get the best results by creating a fire within people, not by lighting a fire under them”. Motivators do so by working with the employee to set attainable and measurable goals.
Caring. Has a desire to understand the individual worker and develop a rapport with him or her. Only when the employee believes that the employer cares about their well-being and are valued, will trust develop.
“It makes perfect sense.” Effective safety leaders understand the human and business side of safety and the return on the investment.
Respected. A leader earns respect by following through on commitments and being fair and consistent when holding others accountable.
Learning and development: Previous research suggests that providing managers with upward feedback can help in the process of behaviour change, so it would be worth considering using the ‘managing for sustainable employee engagement’ questionnaire in an upward or 360-degree feedback process as part of the learning and development programme.

Performance management and appraisal: To reinforce the importance of showing the behaviours for ‘managing for sustainable employee engagement’ on an on-going basis, they could be integrated into your performance management or appraisal system, so that managers consider and are measured on the extent to which they integrate these behaviours into their management repertoire.

What can managers do: evidence suggests that your behaviour is an important factor in achieving both employee engagement and well being for those you manage.

The ‘managing for sustainable employee engagement’ framework provides you with specific indications of what you can do to create sustainable employee engagement in your team.

Behaviours change: When you look at the ‘managing for sustainable employee engagement’ framework, you will probably find that some indicators are things that you already do (or avoid doing in the case of the negative behaviours), whereas others are not part of your current approach.

It might be helpful to get feedback on whether others, particularly those who work directly for you, see you doing these things or not. If your employer provides an opportunity for upward or 360-degree feedback, this is an ideal way to find out others’ views in a systematic and confidential way.

Changing behaviours: Where there are elements of the ‘managing for sustainable employee engagement’ framework that are not part of your current management repertoire, you can use the specific behaviour indicators underlying the framework to help you make changes to your behavioural.

You might find coaching or other learning and development activities helpful in making and sustaining these changes.

Managers also need to focus on ensuring they engender real, emotional engagement in their employees as this means you need to beware of rewarding or encouraging a ‘façade’ of engagement in which individuals are acting engaged, perhaps by working long and hard, but not really thinking or feeling engaged, in terms of their underlying motivations.

Bear in mind that it is an emotional engagement that links to well-being and sustainability, whereas purely behavioural or transactional engagement is linked to poorer wellbeing and is unlikely to be sustained over time.

Engaging employees in sustainability galvanises them. It gives them a sense of belonging, drive, passion and purpose.

It unleashes their potential to make a difference and it inspires them to do something more that they can associate themselves with and feel good about. If done well, it will even resonate into their personal lives and impact their decisions so that they make better choices that serve them, their families, communities and the environment.

Highlight the key to success:

-Mobilises employee-led committees
-Facilitates collaboration, communication and exchange of ideas
-Offers training on environmental leadership and product impact
-Integrates sustainability strategically
-Makes it applicable to employee responsibilities
-Knows where its biggest impact is
-Supports employee development and leadership.
Conclusion: In the current economic and workplace context, employee engagement could potentially help organisations survive by improving productivity and performance.

However, the same context that makes engagement desirable also makes it potentially fragile. It is important that managers behave in ways that engender both engagement and wellbeing in their teams.

We must do things differently so that colleagues can successfully create a safer environment. Safety will be governed by people on-site, with power over their decisions, who report back to the shop floor or project teams.
Our people are a source of diversity, insight and wisdom, not purely of risk and we should trust people and mistrust unnecessary bureaucracy. Don’t obsess with what went wrong but investigate what went well, cultivating open dialogue, and consider risk taking and innovative ideas that will create a safer yet dynamic industry.

Business and Nature – Are they good bedfellows?

Businesses around the world are now waking up to the real benefits of integrating nature into their workspaces. When was the last time that you got outdoors to truly enjoy nature? How long have you been working without a break, could it be impacting the way you perform your job?

Contact with nature can positively impact on work performance, sanity and overall emotional well-being. Not to mention, make people happier and more productive at work!

forestHere are just a few examples of the benefits of integrating nature into the workplace:-

Improves attention capacity and the ability to focus.

  1. Enhance creativity: Spending time in nature can improve creativity up to 50%. Being more creative on the job means you can generate better ideas and more innovative solutions to problems.
  2. Increase cognitive ability: Spending time in nature increases cognitive abilities. Part of this is clearing the mind of distractions.
  3. Improve memory: Heavy multitasking can make it difficult to remember things. Research has found that nature positively impacts the ability to remember.
  4. Reduce stress and elevate mood: Our brains on stress are a jumbled mess. The stress that builds up in our mind impacts the entire body in a negative way if not properly dealt with. This can have negative consequences on the ability to work with others, and cause issues of workplace incivility. Contact with nature reduces stress and elevates our mood, which can impact productivity and the ability to work with others.
  5. Encouraging employees to take a 15 minute walk one or two times a day for optimal work performance. So people who walk or cycle to work, then eat lunch in local park might already be some of the most productive? Research suggests that doing this will increase individual productivity at work by an additional 30 percent each day, another argument for taking a meeting out for a walk in nearby green space or a local park.
  6. Direct connections to nature in and around a building don’t just result in less stress, higher performance, increased emotional well-being, better learning, or in healthcare environments – faster healing! BUT a combination of these benefits have been shown to significantly contribute to higher rates of employee retention, important to the overall health of an organisation or business. If unable to keep employees, employers lose valuable assets to their teams, as well as the money they’ve already spent training them.
  7. Natural lighting, sounds and other enhancements are being used more and more to help drive sales, influence customer decisions and motivations, particularly where products or services have environmental or ethical link.

Even just adding plants to the office environment can boost productivity and wellbeing by up to 30% and remove up to 87% of air toxins, reducing staff fatigue and incidences of coughs and colds by up to 30%.

There’s examples already out there, Law firms Olswang & Mischon de Reya in London with rooftop greenspace or Digital Agency McCann in Manchester who are already seeing the creative benefits of adding nature to their employees day.

To find out more you can contact