We already know that engaged staff are critical to a company’s success – after all, it’s the principle that our business is built on. Now, many businesses are becoming increasingly savvy to the fact that a more formal, well-designed and well-executed Employee Engagement programme can measurably improve performance and drive change for long-term success.

But an engagement programme doesn’t simply appear, fully-formed, upon request. Like every strategic initiative it takes time, planning and resource – all of which are usually in short supply. For the clients we work with, we like to show that there is a clear pathway towards engagement nirvana, and moving along this step-by-step is the best way to achieve success in a scalable and manageable way.

The starting point for most of us is the ‘straightforward’ employee survey. Surveys are not new, and for many they remain the tool of choice to get a simple measure of employee satisfaction. As standalone, tactical measures they can do the job fairly well – if the feedback gathered is taken on board. Most importantly for the organisations that rely on them, employee surveys don’t require extensive time or resource to implement.

But these baseline surveys can only take your organisation so far, and it’s difficult to align them with deeper, more strategic corporate goals. So, what happens when you want to move employee engagement up the business agenda and understand more clearly how your employees impact factors such as customer service or productivity?

Already, a number of forward-thinking organisations have evolved the way in which they measure employee engagement as they begin to fully understand the way in which it affects every aspect of their business. They are the ones implementing more widely scoped programmes that include a range of insight and analysis tools. The critical difference is that these programmes focus on behaviour change for best business impact, rather than simply providing a barometer of the current situation.

But there are those who are even further ahead, expanding well beyond the traditional annual employee surveys into more sophisticated, strategy-linked Voice of the Employee programmes.

The broader scope of a VoE programme brings data from a wide range of sources together, combining employee survey feedback with metrics such as customer satisfaction scores, attrition and retention rates, and financial KPIs. This approach provides detailed, more accurate insight for both tactical and strategic planning, as well as offering opportunities to take more immediate action.

In our view, it is these trail-blazing organisations that are furthest along the path to engagement enlightenment – but achieving nirvana takes one more critical step. This is where businesses act on the knowledge that exceptional customer experiences are directly driven by the levels of engagement their employees have with their organisation and, critically, their customers.

Yet employee experience and customer experience often continue to be dealt with in total isolation to each other. They’ll usually have entirely different objectives, and different KPIs against which outcomes are measured.

It’s entirely understandable that many businesses take this approach, based on the historical reasoning that employees belong to HR and customers span other parts of the business such as sales, marketing and customer service. But this is an outdated view, and one that will always limit the capability of an organisation to achieve its full potential in terms of both customer service and employee satisfaction.

Aligning your employee and customer programmes does take time and does take resource. But combining previously separate resources can also deliver some economies of scale, as well as creating more cohesive internal structure that focuses on the same strategic goals. And having taken time to move along the different steps in the journey to this integrated approach should alleviate some of the pain points.

In our view, this approach to striving, one step at a time, towards holistic, end-to-end employee and customer engagement is the best way to smooth your journey towards the nirvana we all crave: a fully-integrated, strategically-aligned organisation that measures the relationship between core business activities and metrics –and that delivers clear, action-based insight for focused business improvement.

By Nick Thompson
Practice Head: ENGAGE