In this blog series, we’ve been focused on highlighting the levels of ROI that are achievable from employee engagement and experience programmes – hard metrics that HR and operational leaders can take into the boardroom as demonstrable proof that engagement can deliver big on business outcomes.
At Engage we use the idea of engagement pillars as both a consulting and technical framework. In earlier blogs we’ve run through the gains to be had from communications, accessibility, enablement and recognition pillars – now we’re about to wrap things up with a look at feedback.
In my eyes feedback is the pillar that just keeps giving. First off, a very simple substitutional benefit that has probably got more business cases over the line than anything else: dropping the slow, expensive, tortuous and rather archaic printed annual survey for rapid and regular app-based pulse surveys. One client saved themselves six figures with the switch, others big five figure sums – and those were just based on production and time costs. They didn’t factor in the effort of putting them together and collating the results, the impact of resources being taken away for the ‘all hands to the pump’ exercise or the cost of so much work being done but with so little to show for it – the latency of findings and action lists and decisions typically compromising any drive for change.
In similar vein, we have clients who previously made very creditable efforts to connect with their workforces, using the roadshow format to get round locations, make presentations and spend time with individuals. But take the logistics costs, the C suite time, the fact that still not everyone got to see or interact with the bosses, and that twice a year was the maximum number of country tours considered feasible, and you can see that that effort came at a real price – but without sufficient reward.
A large industrial services client estimated that they had spent £200K over three years and yet failed to shift the needle significantly on engagement and satisfaction. Just switching to the app and harnessing company updates with worker forums and other dialogue mechanisms has allowed for the creation of regular virtual ‘town halls’, where people can not only listen to the C suite but have their say too, asking questions and contributing opinions. It makes for a more dynamic culture, with people feeling they have a genuine say, rather than just being presented with a fait accompli. No, it’s not a panacea for everything but if it helps lift productivity or reduces staff attrition by a percentage point or two, then that has a value.
Value comes from odd quarters too. You might think we’d struggle to show a return from, say, the Suggestions function in the app but on the contrary we’ve heard some great stories. Our original thinking was just to have it there almost as a show of ‘we are listening to you’ and for it to encourage just fairly low-key ideas of how basic everyday things could be improved. But in a few places it’s become a remarkable catalyst of big sustainable change – one manufacturer used it as a competition mechanism to drive up efficiency and drive down waste, and the winning ideas as implemented have at the last estimate saved them about £250K over the past two years – that’s incredible!
Another used it to reinvigorate their CSR efforts, which had largely lapsed and been criticised for not being particularly transparent to those in the organisation. Again by using the Suggestions function, and running a virtual ‘oversight committee’ via the app, they were able to kick-start a focused campaign, that had the full support of the workforce because they themselves had contributed to it and everything was being conducted in the open.
Of course feedback also has another role to play, beyond just generating ROI in its own right: it is also critical to judging whether you are getting a return from your other engagement activities. So your new update video blogs, your digital payslip initiative, your on-demand learning innovation, just how well are these going down? Your expansive, multi channel engagement effort…is it impacting morale and confidence? What do your survey returns tell you? What does your mood board indicate? The sentiment analysis of employee comments, plenty of positives or too many negatives? What’s the feeling in the ‘virtual’ room?
Because if what you’re doing isn’t working, then you need to understand why; if you are seeing changes, then you need to identify which activities are driving the greatest benefit. Constant evaluation of all your other pillar-based activities – what you are doing vis a vis communications, accessibility, enablement and recognition – that all sits within feedback too. And in our world, it’s why it’s more than a pillar, it’s also the very cornerstone of engagement success.