As we get underway with the launch of our 2018 UK & European Employee Engagement Awards, we at the Engagement Zone sit down with Jenni Field – Director at Redefining Communications.

EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?

JENNI: Employee engagement is the term used to describe how employees feel about working somewhere. For me engagement is a broad term and can often be interpreted in different ways – it will be reflected in different behaviours in different organisations but ultimately it is about someone enjoying the work they do, understanding the role they play in the organisation and feel valued.

EZ: What are your three tips to companies looking to drive engagement in their organisations?

JENNI:

  • Listen to your employees and find out what motivates them, challenges them day-to-day etc.
  • Invest in line managers – they are your biggest channel for communications and people will leave managers, not organisations
  • Be consistent with the messages, behaviours and communication channels – in a world of chaos, be the consistent calm inside an organisation

EZ: What do you feel are the biggest pitfalls that companies should look to avoid when executing their engagement strategy?

JENNI: Doing it because you want employees to be brand ambassadors. The reason for employee engagement needs to come from a culture that truly respects and values employees otherwise it will just fall flat.

It is often something that management want a quick fix to – be clear that it isn’t a 6-month programme and all will be well.

EZ: Why do employees fail to buy in when companies try to ramp up engagement?

JENNI: Quite often the ramping up is done as a campaign from HR, Marketing or Communications. It needs to be something that is more closely aligned with long-term culture, the responsibility of all managers.

EZ: What skills are most useful for everyone to have when trying to move towards a culture of engagement?

JENNI: Communication skills are so important. The need to be open, honest without fear of repercussion and listen actively are all needed. When we live in a world where we tell people we are constantly busy, make time for people and for the relationships in the workplace – we need social connections and it’s important to make the time for them at work.

EZ: You’re a judge for the Employee Engagement awards. What will you be looking for in the entries?

JENNI: I’m looking for longevity in the campaigns to see how they are going to be sustained and how they will leave a lasting impression on the business (in terms of behaviour). I’m also looking for clear, measurable objectives and creativity – not much!

EZ: How important do you think it is to connect Employee Experience to the Customer Experience and why?

JENNI: So important. The customer sees the output of what goes on inside to make sure that the customer experience is factored into the employee experience is crucial. I still like the shoe story from the EEA conference last year!

EZ: What’s the best EE idea you’ve seen a company roll out/attempt and wish you’d had that idea yourself?

JENNI:  Some of the examples around the launch of GDPR were great. They explored the role of cyber security for the individual and helped engage employees on a topic that wasn’t necessarily linked to the business. For me this is true engagement – it’s not being done because you had to.

EZ: What’s the worst and glad that you didn’t?

JENNI: I can’t think of any bad ideas or campaigns, but I think some of the management of crisis in the past has demonstrated the importance of engaging with employees. There were some good examples of how not to it from a few airlines I think.

EZ: Since you entered the world of work, what’s the best experience you’ve had?

JENNI: The best experiences are those that the most genuine. Running a Christmas team event for the London office was one of the best – it was a day of fun and games, some work-related and some not – and it proved the value in getting people together without it being all about delivering value to the bottom line.

EZ: What’s the worst?

JENNI: When you run the same annual event each year and the themes don’t change – it’s such a challenge to make it interesting and engaging for the audience, especially when they are the same people each year!

EZ: Which person (dead or alive) would you love to be able to come in and speak to your workforce/colleagues?

JENNI: Barak Obama or Michelle Obama. Their ability to engage an audience and inspire has been a good lesson in the power of communication and what it can do.

EZ: Favourite song to crank up after a tough day at work?

JENNI: Foxes, Let go for tonight

EZ: Best place in the world you have visited?

JENNI: Ooh that’s hard – South Africa I think!

EZ: The place you’d most like to visit? 

JENNI: New Zealand – it just looks so beautiful

NOTE: Entries for the UK & European and ANZ  Employee Engagement Awards are now open. For your chance to be recognised as a great place to work, click the link here.