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Jumpstart Employee Engagement

April 8, 2014

An excerpt from a piece recently featured in AmCham’s (American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium) newsletter. For the full article click here.

1. Start with the basics
Any architect will tell you that without a solid foundation, the most innovative building will quickly crumble. The same is true of your organization.

Make sure that your employees have all they need to do their jobs well. If you are an online retailer, make sure your website is optimized and your employees have reliable computers and internet access. The surest way to disengage your employees is to rob them of the opportunity to do great work.

How do you know if your employees have what they need? It’s simple: ask them. Hold an informal competition for the best ideas to improve productivity and allow voting for the winner. Or hold lunchtime ‘name-one-thing-under-€500-to-improve-your-productivity’ brainstorming sessions. Make it fun – and, most importantly, act quickly on the results.

Ask your teams what they need and you will unlock greater employee engagement.

2. Build brand ambassadors
Your company’s most powerful brand ambassadors are your employees. And yet most companies falsely assume that their employees do this automatically. You can increase employee engagement by helping your employees articulate their own personal stories about your brand.

Here’s an example. Recently, a $40 million globally renowned investment company approached us with a big problem: their employees could not clearly describe their company’s brand. Through an employee-focused design process including more than 20 immersive interviews, storytelling workshops with over 120 members of staff and a prize challenge, we surfaced the points of greatness within the company. Not only did the staff come up with a single brand message and common vision to unite the company, each person developed his/her own personalized articulation of the brand story that is now being told to the external world.

This process developed an engaged employee network now empowered to become brand ambassadors in their communities and beyond.

3. Co-design, co-design, co-design
If your organization is like many we work with, you haven’t fully tapped into the wisdom of your staff. Our advice: co-design with them as often as possible. In other words, the next time you face a new business challenge, solve it with input from your employees.

We see this happen most successfully with the use of prototypes. For example, we recently designed a brand loyalty program for a major restaurant chain. We asked the in-store staff (i.e. waiters, cooks, hostesses) to respond to a set of prototypes that expert designers had developed. Why? Because the in-store staff knows the customers more intimately than corporate headquarters.

This process had a dual purpose: in addition to improving the loyalty plan, we identified plan champions in the restaurants, seeding momentum for the eventual roll-out. By co-designing with staff, you tap into their wisdom and cultivate a sense of ownership for the success of the organization.

Employee engagement is the key to successful companies in the 21st century. Listen carefully to your employees and you’ll discover what they need to do great work, how they can ignite new communities for your brand and how they can help to solve some of the toughest business challenges you face.

…To read the full text of the article click here.

Jumpstart Employee Engagement

Kimberly Manno Reott

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