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November 19, 2010

Chloe Ward:The strategic approach to employee engagement

The head of RPM Corporate says it has never been more important to get closer to your staff, and events hold the key.

Employee engagement is a core force that drives business success and is key to many of the world’s top performing organisations. Research from a variety of studies, including work conducted by big multinationals like Coca Cola, shows that engaged employees are more productive, more profitable and more likely to withstand temptations to leave the organisation.

For many large organisations, however, away days and HR initiatives can be costly affairs – and in the current climate, value for money is absolutely crucial. So every event, be it a small team day or a conference that involves thousands of employees, must be designed with clear measurable objectives, otherwise businesses are simply wasting their money. By developing an employee engagement strategy, supported by effective pre and post-event tactics, businesses are able not only to drive improvements and organisational change, but also achieve corporate goals, which will give them a competitive edge.

A measured approach
The annual away day and Christmas party are a stable of most HR departments, yet are all too often executed without real thought. Before planning and arrangements begin, businesses must ask certain important questions. What are you trying to achieve? Will it deliver on the objectives? What impact will it have? How will success be measured? 

It is essential for brands to take a considered and measured approach, proving an acceptable return on the investment (ROI), which is able to be improved and sustained. This involves well-designed methods and systems for collecting and analysing engagement-related data, as well as taking time at the start to develop a strategic plan. This means working with employees and stakeholders to understand what they really want, what their interests are and what will engage them. Plus, as the owner, you need to identify what you really want to achieve from the event. 

For brands to really get the best ROI from employee engagement events, they must empathise with those agendas, create an exciting, immersive and engaging experience based on this, and then evolve beyond this transactional approach.  

Maintaining momentum
To get the best long-term effect from employee engagement activity, post-event communication is vital. But many companies fail to take this seriously. To ensure a lasting impact on employee engagement and ultimately business results, brands must maintain momentum after the event.

Post-event activity may include involving employees in implementing ideas so they become realities, and measuring the brand experience and resulting engagement to ensure you have the full picture and have met the campaign objectives. You may also want to plan periodic follow-up communications to monitor progress and adjust activities as needed.

With staff continuing to be nervous about the possibility of a double dip recession, more budget cuts and job losses employee engagement has never been more important. Events are clearly not the only approach to this, but they can give you a brilliant opportunity to listen, inform and connect with your staff.
By taking a strategic approach to employee engagement events, which combines business and pleasure, organisations are able to create an event that has a lasting impact on their business. This doesn’t have to mean blowing the budget, but rather just ensuring employee engagement, and ultimately the employees, are given the time and attention deserved.

Chloe Ward is head of RPM Corporate.

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