Employee Engagement: Who’s in the working group?

For quite some time now, companies have been identifying poor employee engagement as a key problem within their business. Often, they’re not entirely sure of the root cause, yet with all the best intentions, they embark on developing an employee engagement program.

However, more often than not they fail miserably.

Last year, this prompted me to write an article about it, and earlier this year to provide an updated version under the auspicious title of ‘How to succeed by understanding why Employee Engagement Programs fail’.

I had a great response to both articles, with several people coming to me and commenting on how my advice had helped them.

Don’t worry. I’m not just here to blow my own trumpet.

I’d just like to identify and focus a little more on one of the areas that I’m still seeing as the downfall of many an employee engagement program.


Having the wrong people in the working group.

Putting in place a cross departmental working group to drive any kind of internal change project is pretty much a no brainer. However, for this group to work effectively and create the desired impact, the individuals that make up this group must be chosen very carefully.

All too often, I’ve seen an email sent out (usually by HR) requesting volunteers to be part of this group, and the result is an unbalanced cross section of employees from around the business.

What happens is the first ones to put their hands up are already the most engaged employees, and those from the areas that are feeling the least engaged and in greatest need of a program like this, are the last ones to volunteer.

Hence, the staff that need to be involved the most are the ones least represented.

This creates an obvious problem. To address the problem, some good hardnosed, ground roots research is required.

Firstly, gain an understanding of the different areas of the business, how they operate, and very importantly who the key players are. These are the ones that you want in the working group. They could be managers, supervisors, or everyday workers. Their title is irrelevant. Their ability to influence their co-workers is what matters.

A warning though. These aren’t always the people that want to be involved in a project like this. There is a fair chance that you will come across some resistance.

No doubt some negotiation will be required, and you’ll need to convince them that the company is willing to listen to their concerns, and act on them.

Of course, for this to happen, you’ll need to make sure that senior management are fully on board, and willing to take on constructive feedback – but that’s a whole other topic in itself.

Getting an employee engagement program to work is no easy task, and the more you look into it, you’ll soon see just how massive it can be.

But, once you’ve got the right people on board, and all parties working together, the benefits will always far outweigh the difficulties faced.



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