Earlier this year Engage CEO Phil Wedgwood released his book ‘Destination Engage’ – weaving the evolution of both engagement theory and practice with the company’s parallel development and his own breakneck ride through business life.,
Over the summer we’re serialising the book and showcasing some of the tech and the thinking that are shaping how organisations approach both internal and external engagement.
In part 4, we start our examination of the Five Pillars of Engagement (Communications, Accessibility, Enablement, Recognition and Feedback), drawing on an earlier book of Phil’s, Engagement Essentials Explained, that looked to evidence the tangible impact of employee apps at work.
Part 4: Pillar talk
We have introduced the Five Pillars of Engagement, a fundamental construct that shapes both our thinking and our technology; but above all serves as a pragmatic framework on which to build engagement success on the ground.
The platform that Engage has developed underpins that framework but now’s the time to deconstruct things a bit and talk about singular elements of engagement. Each pillar needs to be relatable; people need to know how they translate into actions and results.
Let’s take pillar #1 first, communications - the most obvious and most potent weapon when it comes to driving connectedness and cohesion.
Communication is about transmitting and receiving, discussing and understanding: from the broadcasting of company news to the targeted push of information to individuals or teams, to the conversations and collaborations within social networks. But managing effective, timely communications across a large distributed entity is a big ask. Bigger still if half your staff are never going to see that all@ email because they’re non-desked or mobile – or just too busy to check.
When we were looking at the tech that would help organisations rise to these various challenges, we simply focused on the basics that would give form and strength to the communications pillar.
We needed to map tools to functions, enabling users to:
- Orchestrate tailored, timely messaging across a large, dispersed organisation quickly and easily
- Use universal or granular push notifications to get the right information in front of the right people at the right time
- Encourage social networking behaviours to help build social capital and strengthen internal communities
- Allow an organisation to connect on a one-to-many, one-to-one, top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, and all-ways basis
With tools duly mapped to functions, and a set of comms utilities developed, how did they come off the drawing board and perform at the coal-face? Just how are people using these tools in their everyday working world? How are they standing up the communications pillar?
Let me share a few examples drawn from our customer base to illustrate the ‘building’ work going on.
There’s the retailer whose staff magazine was being produced at obscene cost in terms of both time and money. And yet readership rates were woeful at sub 40% so they effectively app-enabled the magazine through our platform, ensuring key content got to everyone on the frontline directly - and in a timely fashion so the news was still actually news!
A food manufacturer with multiple sites was previously reliant on its site managers and their written blogs for basic engagement with staff. They were available digitally and printed out but were often missed by the non-desked, while those that did read them started to tune out the rather flat, repetitive statements. Now that videos can be easily watched by staff via the Engage app, the site managers are switching to vlogs and thinking more carefully about content, like interviews with staff. By delivering freshened up content in a new medium that people are happy to consume, and that critically gets to everyone equally, the company has given engagement a real shot in the arm.
We’re working with a very well-known English football club that on a regular basis has to mobilise, manage and monitor a small army of casual workers. The only way - until now - to ensure they connect with everyone in time has been to deploy SMS messaging; it’s very costly, quite unwieldy and pretty limited.
Moving to push notifications as part of a broader platform is changing the game for them: there are no additional costs; curated messages can be put together quickly and go to set groups at the touch of a button; links to key resources can be included so everyone can get what they need from within the app; HR, operations and L&D can all use the same system for their different needs; and there’s auditing and analytics so they can better marshal the army and keep behind training, compliance, no-shows etc.
Finally, we have an automotive specialist with multiple sites around the UK. Previously their technicians had worked very much in their own site silo, with a monthly written report coming in from senior head office staff just collating news, service data and product information. It was quite isolating, quite frustrating.
With Engage’s social networking capabilities, they’ve now set up a group-wide technicians’ community where they can share, ask, discuss, help, anything that supports the aim of being supportive and constructive; the written log now gets sent out via the app after the new monthly ‘town hall’ with senior technical staff, where issues can be aired and ideas or upcoming changes can be briefed in.
Destination Engage is available from Amazon in both paperback and eBook formats.