Agility at the heart of employee engagement

Traditional employee engagement strategies, in which companies survey their workers once a year or not at all, have been left without key information and insights during the coronavirus pandemic. Though these more rigid approaches have been outdated for years, the sudden shift to mass remote working since March has left organisations struggling to understand how their staff are feeling.

Research from Glint, the people success platform that tracks engagement levels through real-time people data, has found that companies that are people driven, with regular staff conversations and surveys, are sustaining the challenging times more effectively than those with less agile approaches.

Using natural language processing, Glint analyses phrases and sentiments used in surveys and aligns them to certain key topics. If somebody says “I’m so exhausted that I just can’t be productive”, the system will flag it as an employee who might be experiencing burnout. Among the 150 topics it observes, such indicators of burnout have doubled during the crisis. Companies not getting regular feedback from their staff are unlikely to be fully aware of this issue or how to address it.

Glint infographic

“In an environment of overwork, which has been confounded by redundancies and furloughing, the potential downstream impact is more burnout, which can also drive dips in productivity,” says Justin Black, senior director of people science at Glint, which advocates for agile employee engagement strategies.

“Instead of an annual, 55-question survey, get feedback when you need to. Regular cadence is so important because we know the likes of recognition, career growth and empowerment vary on a quarterly basis. We see it in our data and we know that changes in those scores impact employee engagement.

“Achieving agile employee engagement requires small and frequent interactions with staff, focused on what the organisation needs today and getting feedback right away. If it takes weeks to get the results of a survey, it’s just not timely enough to be useful. We also need to move away from the survey as the silver bullet. The survey cadence is in service of a regular conversation process and approach, not the other way around.”

Glint has observed four ways that companies have successfully intervened to improve employee engagement during the pandemic: insights and feedback through surveys, regular conversations, adaptable goals tied to organisational success, and prioritising continuous improvement of learning and growth over simple engagement scores.

Through analysing three million datapoints, which it has collected since early-March, Glint has found that employees who are made to feel more connected to their organisation are 3.5 times more satisfied with the degree to which their employer cares for their wellbeing and 4.5 times more likely to feel supported. In further research of what LinkedIn members want more of now than they did in the past, the number-one desire was for greater flexibility.

The shift to remote working has given human resources leaders the opportunity to review whether their systems, tools, approaches and processes still serve the needs of their workforce. A common mistake is putting measurement at the core of employment engagement strategies. Though important, measurement should be seen as a tool, not a purpose, and failing to understand this sees organisations focusing on habit-building and point-scoring, rather than action-planning and using data to sustain continuous improvement.

With a unified people success strategy, employers can better serve the overall objective of happiness and success of their employees

“I’m not convinced companies need an engagement programme at all,” says Black. “In some ways, in the new world of work, it can be counterintuitive because employees don’t think in terms of the engagement programme. To put people at the core, they need to bring together what they’ve traditionally called employee engagement, performance management, and learning and development. With a unified people success strategy, employers can better serve the overall objective of happiness and success of their employees.”

TomTom navigates towards greater employee engagement

Like many organisations, employee engagement at TomTom, the location technology specialist, was limited to a one-time survey and static report. The results would be cascaded and a response plan would be devised. But the time it took to complete the analysis meant the data lost relevance and managers struggled to keep momentum.

To support its desire to offer a working atmosphere where staff can be themselves, have fun and do their best work, TomTom wanted to adopt a more continuous and interactive approach to employee engagement that could be embedded into day-to-day routine. Requiring a tool that enables deep analysis into what its employees are voicing, feeling and expressing, TomTom turned to Glint’s People Success platform.

“We wanted our managers to be able to own their team’s engagement metrics and be the ones who are the drivers for change,” says Bart Bolger, vice president of HR brand and locations at TomTom.

“With Glint, they get a more meaningful and impactful experience by receiving faster and more focused insights, a user-friendly platform and customised action plans as soon as the results are released to them. The platform translates results into actions, offering analyses and showing how to improve and what is influencing our business.”

TomTom is now able to tailor its initiatives based on the employee engagement results that are easily accessible through the platform. With the analysis provided, it can see clearly and in depth what engages its employees and where and how it needs to improve its employee life cycle. The solution has also supported TomTom’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling it to roll out regular check-in surveys
with staff.

“Employee wellbeing has been top of mind during these unprecedented times, so knowing how we can help staff with things like emotional support, work-life balance and IT set-up from home, and respond to their concerns, has been very beneficial for us as a company,” Bolger adds.

“Based on the results of our COVID-19 check-in surveys, we’ve been able to understand where our staff need us most. We always refer to the Glint insights now when we need to make decisions. We will continue doing our surveys as often as we can to make sure we are keeping our connection to employees.”

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