Engaging Your Workforce!

By Jean Battersby Wooten, Human Resources Manager, Committee for Children

I recently had the opportunity to attend Resourceful HR’s NW HR Best Practices Roundtable where the focus was employee engagement. This is a poignant topic for our organization as our team thinks of employee engagement as a cornerstone to the work we do. The way we engage our employees and value others is intrinsic to the social and emotional learning programs we produce. As a senior level HR executive, I have had the opportunity to work at several organizations and see what works and what does not. As a client of Resourceful HR, I wanted to share with blog readers some of the best practices I have learned throughout my career.

I also hope to hear from you! Employment engagement is ever evolving. It is a dynamic process that never really ends – it is not something we can just cross off our list after accomplishing a few tasks. What are the best practices you employ in your organization on a sustainable basis and what are the ways in which you measure engagement?

The following are just some of the techniques Committee for Children employs:

–          Employee engagement starts during the interview/hiring process (whether you are hired or not). We value expertise and the time job candidates spend engaging with our organization. Our goal is to show candidates respect throughout the whole process – this means keeping them informed, sticking to deadlines and keeping the relationship going even if they are not hired. You never know if you may need their contribution down the road.

–          Empower your employees. Giving your employees a full picture of what you are want to accomplish ensures they have the information they need to make good decisions. We share the strategic plan with the entire company and then each senior manager communicates with their team. This way every individual understands how their goals influence the results of the strategic plan.

–          Recognize all contributors. Recognize the efforts of all when possible. When a school or school district decides to purchase one of our programs, we acknowledge all that were involved. There are many contributors that helped along the way and we go out of our way to make sure everyone’s efforts are acknowledged, including designers and developers, the production and packaging teams, the financial team, client support services, our marketing team…the list goes on and on. Every purchase is a result of ALL of our employees’ synergistic efforts and all should be recognized for their contributions.

–          Focus on feedback. This is a crucial aspect that impacts our employee engagement initiatives. For two years in a row, our employees have voted us a Best Places to Work sponsored by the Puget Sound Business Journal. While the recognition is nice, it is not what drives our participation in this process. As part of the process, our employees are asked to complete a comprehensive survey (that requires 85% of employees to voluntarily fill it out in order to be considered for the award). The results from the survey let us know what we need to be focusing on in order to create greater job appreciation (i.e. what motivates people, what provides the support they need, what benefits are important to them). This feedback is then turned into our ‘marching orders’ for the year – We dive into each aspect and then work hard to create the environment our employees are desiring.

–          Listen, listen, listen. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Our culture thrives on transparent communications. While it is nice to have the Best Places to Work survey tool to collect feedback, the most important thing you can do is to listen and then communicate to employees that you hear them. For instance, you may learn there is a benefit that is lacking. While you may not have control over the benefit, it is still important to let employees know they were heard and tell them what you can and cannot do to help them. Another way we ensure everyone is at the table, even when they cannot, is to make notes from staff meetings and executive meetings available on our SharePoint.

And lastly, the best way to engage employees is to be engaged yourself. Enlisting your HR staff and making sure your managers are on board is key to creating a work force that comes to work feeling valued, respected and wanting to contribute!

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About Jean

Jean is a successful human resources professional with over 25 years of experience. She is a natural leader with a passion for helping others reach their full potential. The industries she has worked in include high tech, professional services, manufacturing, distribution, insurance, non-profit and academia.

About Committee for Children

Committee for Children is a 30-year-old nonprofit whose vision is safe children thriving in a peaceful world—a world in which children can grow up to be peaceful, empathic, responsible citizens. It may seem like a tall order, but their social-emotional learning materials are in schools from Illinois to Iraq, Chile to California. They’ve taught millions of children skills that help them stay safe, manage their emotions, solve problems, avoid risky behavior, and improve their academics. And with your help, they can reach millions more—one child, one classroom, one community at a time.  Visit them at www.cfchildren.org.

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2 Comments on "Engaging Your Workforce!"

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Julia
Guest

Thanks Jean. The point you made about listening to your employees and effectively is essential to having engaged employees. If you are already offering employee benefits but not communicating about them how will your employees know about the benefits they could be receiving. Or if you are offering employee benefits but they aren’t what matters most to your employees it won’t matter.

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