In case you haven’t noticed, there is a small sporting event going on soon in London. I won’t mention it as I’m sure there is all sorts of copy write involved but I can say that there will be lots of winners, lots of medals… And I’m happy to say we have a few of our own. Winners that is.
We know that employers who listen to their workforce on a daily basis and offer real career progression will be rewarded and at ORC International’s 17th Annual Employee Engagement Conference, held in June, at London’s Vinopolis, two UK employers who have taken this philosophy to the heart of their business were presented with Employee Engagement awards in recognition of their success.
The two companies, Iceland Foods and The Perfume Shop, both insist on the importance not only of listening to employees and acting on feedback, but on making it clear how staff can progress their careers through the company.
Mairi Probin, Internal Communications and Engagement Manager at Iceland, says colleagues genuinely feel they continually have the opportunity to make their voice heard, not just within the staff survey, and that their ideas and concerns are listened to and acted upon.
“There’s a huge awareness in Iceland from the boardroom through to the staffroom about the importance of letting our colleagues have their say on a daily basis.”
“We also make sure that we tell our people regularly and honestly about what is going on in the business, and show them very clearly how they can progress in the business if they want to. This approach makes excellent business sense for Iceland too: our aim, when we emerge from these difficult economic times, is to have retained and developed a talented workforce that is really engaged with our business.”
For The Perfume Shop too, the key is ongoing, informal feedback mechanisms so staff stays in touch with the business. When The Perfume Shop held its first formal staff survey in 10 years in 2011, managers were delighted to get a response rate of 86%. For Michelle Fellows, the company’s HR Director, the willingness of staff to respond to the survey was due to the efforts made by managers to engage with staff informally on an ongoing basis.
“We have a lot of informal ways of getting feedback into the business, with regular contact with as many staff as possible,” explains Michelle. “We know that staff are genuinely proud of the business and of our products and our approach to customer service. In particular, we know that staff feel able to reach their true potential in our business. Our own MD started as a store manager 20 years ago, and that’s a great example for people to follow.
“It’s fantastic to have the formal benchmark of the staff survey to confirm that we are heading in the right direction, but we also listen to people informally on a continual basis and I think this is really necessary to keep people engaged within the business and with what we are trying to achieve.”
It just goes to show that engagement doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, you just need to respond to the needs of both the organisation and its employees in a timely and consistent way and the proof of that, if you will indulge me, is in the frozen pudding.