Understanding The Value of Employee Engagement

 What makes up a best place to work? Everything must be taken into consideration; the workplace culture, support from the organization to help enlist company values into its employees and most of all employee satisfaction and engagement.

The Great Place to Work Institute, in partnership with Fortune Magazine, has been working for 25 years to gather information on the 100 Best Companies to Work For in the United States. Their work has shown the importance of the study and the value of the data collected. The data helps organizations in building workplace trust, which has proven to be the best investment any company can make, leading to better recruitment of talent, a lower turnover, higher productivity, more loyal consumers and higher profits margins.

Engage Consulting, a leading HR consulting and recruitment firm in Pakistan with offices in Karachi, Lahore, UAE and Malaysia, is announcing the launch of the Express Tribune 2012 Best Place to Work Study. In its third year running in Pakistan, this study is meant to help organisations throughout the country transform themselves by a process of discovering their strengths and areas of improvement through benchmarking against other organizations.

Since its original launch in 2008, the Best Place to Work Study has recognised leading workplaces throughout Pakistan, including top companies such as Pepsi, GSK, Engro, DHL, Telenor, P&G, Standard Chartered and many others. The Best Place to Work is an integrated look at survey data of employees from each company, across all industries making it Pakistan’s largest annual study of workplace excellence.  This study surveys a sample of 100 employees on 48 statements that are based on the four Engagement Clusters; Belonging, Alignment, Growth and Commitment. Employees have to rate statements on a scale of one to five, with one being Strongly Disagree and five being Strongly Agree. Organizations with high engagement levels is reflected in the number of employee responses who Strongly Agree and Agree with statements.

“The Best Place to Work Study recognizes companies that have demonstrated a serious commitment to building workplaces that foster trust, pride and solidarity amongst their employees” says Paul Keijzer, CEO of Engage Consulting. “Each company should be proud of their accomplishments. To be recognised for your company culture and respected for the vision and values of your organisation is a great achievement.”

One of the most crucial insights the Best Place to Work offers is a look into employee engagement. Employee engagement is a significant part of any successful workplace and true engagement goes beyond job satisfaction and loyalty — instead, it delves into an individual’s personal satisfaction leading to increased productivity, enhanced corporate pride and improved employee competency. Engagement can result in improvements in common workplace attributes such as team building, communication skills, analytical thinking, leadership potential, diplomacy, flexibility, conflict resolution, problem solving and time management skills.

“Organizations with high engagement rates are 78% more productive & 40% more profitable than those organizations with low levels of engagement.”  Hewitt Quarterly

The Best Place to Work survey has given a chance for employees to share their attitudes toward their employer, giving companies insights into the level of employee engagement within their own company as well as being able to compare themselves with other companies.

“It’s a good initiative in the HR Industry and is conducted by a reputable and trustworthy organisation. It also gives us the ability to benchmark our company, get an insight into our employees views and the employer branding opportunity” says Humaira Ahmed, Talent Acquisition and Development Manager at GSK.

The recipient of the 2010 Best Place to Work award was Telenor. They were acknowledged for their open work environment, expanding learning opportunities, democratic policies and non-discriminatory benefits.

To find out the winners of the 2012 Best Place to Work Study, stay tuned – Engage Consulting in partnership with The Express Tribune will be announcing the winners in mid June.

Written by Anusha Bawany
(The writer is marketing coordinator at Engage Consulting)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2012.

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The Power of Leeches

Anyone who has ever been bitten by a leech knows the strength of these blood-sucking creatures. It is almost impossible to kill one and when it attaches itself, it doesn’t let go before it has sucked enough blood, which can last from anything between 20 minutes and 2 hours!

We encountered plenty of leeches last week in Sri Lanka. It was pouring for most of the day and night and of course leeches love their wet, hot and sticky climate. So within hours, numerous of the participants from the outbreak were covered in them. Have you ever seen a Pakistani man, who has never spent a night in a tent or seen so much rain, come across (let alone be bitten by) a leech? I can tell you, it is a spectacle. These small creatures somehow caused fear and havoc amongst these high performing business executives. And the funny part is these little guys managed to play an important part in the team coming together.

An outbreak is designed to create as many ‘first-time-ever-experiences’ as possible and to create surprises and memories. It is designed to take people out of their comfort zone; not by doing things that they don’t want to do, but by taking away their control over the event. Outbreak participants do not know what they will do, where they will sleep, when they will eat and what is going to happen next. They are told they must learn to let things go and go with the flow. This loss of control seems to create the biggest level of discomfort for executives.

Giving up control along with physical tiredness and discomfort, creates the ideal circumstance to have conversations about things that matter, to disagree and be feisty, to air out frustrations and talk about issues that normally remain hidden under the carpet of civility and business etiquette. This is what these creepy crawlies did – they removed restraints and allowed participant to open up and discuss issues that would usually have been bypassed.

So sitting in a rain soaked tent, after a day full of exiting first ever experiences, created the ideal moment for the team to come together in an amazing way. And the leeches made it perfect! They created the right level of discomfort and surprise, and ever since we have been back this has been the most talked about experience, creating a shared memory that will last for years.

I will always remember my leech; it was stuck to my groin. How it got there I will probably never know.

– Paul Keijzer

Crisis Control

Whoa! What a day…

Yesterday was a day I will not easily forget. It started off with receiving a number of text messages from friends and colleagues saying that an email my company had sent out to all the contacts that I have accumulated over the last ten years (inviting people to participate in our annual Talent Barometer) had gone viral. Not the good kind of viral, no! The kind that floods peoples inboxes, as individuals who were replying to the email were by default replying to everybody else on the list – and that of course led to other people responding, sending out even more emails and this became a vicious cycle.

I hate it when situations like these occur. I hate it even more when I am the cause of it.

Of course in no time people were throwing insults left, right and center and something that started with so much good intent, trying to get people to share their opinion on the Pakistani talent market so we can translate that into insights and publish a free of cost research report, backfired in a tremendous way. This was about to destroy the reputation that my company and I have tried to build inch-by-inch over the last 5 years in only a matter of a few hours.

From my experience in dealing with a professional crisis (product recalls, safety incidents, labor unrest, etc.) the trick is to contain, engage, and prevent. First things first – you have to identify what went wrong and try to stop whatever is causing the crisis. In our case it was pulling the plug on the email server and ensuring that no more emails were going round and round in circles.

Then it is all about engaging the people that were affected. In our case, reactions varied from ‘please unsubscribe me’ to ‘this will have an impact on how I trust your company with their ability to handle information confidentially’. I have a very simple principle in these situations; apologize and live up to your actions. So within hours of the first incident I was writing individual apology emails to the people that were the most affected. Often people are afraid to apologize as it makes them look weak, however the most interesting thing happens when you do. People, not all, will start empathizing with you. As long as you acknowledge their anger and frustration, explain what went wrong and take responsibility – people will turn around and begin to understand. (From what I saw, you can turn around the most hardened and angry people).

After you have contained and engaged the most affected people it is of course all about ensuring that it never happens again. In our case, I made the mistake to agree to an alternative IT solution that gave us more flexibility and cost benefit, but was not proven nor tested. It was an error in judgment, I should have known better; there are no short cuts in life that are sustainable over time.

Over the next few weeks we will start engaging people again through our new solution. Rebuilding some of the confidence that has been lost and trusting that at the end people will understand that we did it with a positive intent and sometimes things just go wrong.

So to everybody that was inconvenienced by the events of yesterday, I would like to give my sincerest apologies!

As a final word I would like to thank my team who were awakened yesterday morning with a call to crisis. They responded outstandingly, they took it personally, took ownership and helped to resolve the situation. A big thank you to my EC team!

– Paul Keijzer