At the recent GW Champions Spring event, Jane Sunley, a best-selling business author and founder and chairman of Purple Cubed, offered a wealth of practical advice and take-away tips for improving employee engagement.
Jane’s background was in hospitality management before she moved into a regional role within a large hospitality group. Having set up and operated a recruitment business, which honed her people skills, she exited to found her own successful company, Purple Cubed, which focuses on employee engagement technology and expertise.
She said: “My background is not HR but operational management. When I moved into the HR space I was able to relate to my experiences managing people and looking at the overview of success through people. I also utilise my own common-sense approach to creating better businesses through improved employee engagement.
“To me, a good and profitable business is all about the people. It’s also about creating a wow factor for customers and setting expectations for employees. All this comes together to be all about employee engagement. My company has created a blueprint for improved employee engagement, which is currently one of the top global topics for businesses that want to grow.”
There are many examples that show an important link between employee engagement and productivity. Jane says: “I think, to many people, it is obvious that the more engaged staff are in the business the better it will perform, yet too often businesses need help to persuade boards to get ‘on board’ with employee engagement.”
THE PURPLE PLAN: BUILDING BLOCKS FOR SUCCESS
Purple Cubed’s Purple Plan highlights a six-point building blocks blueprint for improving the employee engagement in businesses that will lead to greater productivity and profit success. This can be applied to all businesses, small and large.
1 Get the board on board: If the board does not believe in the value of employee engagement it will not work. You need investment, both financial and belief, to improve engagement.
Aim to persuade the board with case studies and statistics. Jane said: “I tell businesses that they need to do one thing really well to show the value of employee engagement, presenting outcomes and backing it all up with a very good and relevant case study.”
2 Culture and values: Make sure everyone in the business, from bottom to top, knows what the business is about and define the culture and values. Make the core values simple and easy to follow so that they can be applied to everything across the business and be all staff. They have to know how to deliver and how to know they’re doing it.
3 Digitise: There needs to be a two-way system of communication and performance review established between managers and teams. In all but the smallest businesses it is vital that this communication system is digitised and easily accessed by all. This is because people should be able to communicate on all matters, such as performance, innovation, feedback and ideas, when it suits them and without difficulty.
4 Employer brand: Make sure your company has a good reputation with a people promise that offers good conditions, aspirations and successes for those who work there/want to there. Potential employees want to know what the deal is for them so be clear about what you offer. This will make them want to work for you because it should be an attractive deal.
Also align this employee/company brand with your consumer brand so that they go hand-in-hand.
5 Health & welfare: This is more than simply health and safety. Your aim should be to really care about staff and to make sure they know you care. Jane says: ‘You should want staff to live healthier and happier lives because then they will be healthier and happier at work and your business will benefit.”
Also create happier staff with programmes of rewards and recognition when due. And help them to deal with money management to help tackle the wider problem of people getting into unmanageable debt.
6 Communication: Offer a place, such as an online resource, where staff can get information when they need or want it. Rather than bombarding people with information, for example too many emails, let them find the information when they need it.
Make sure communications are clear and accountable and can be two-way.
IT’S A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT
Jane explained that employee engagement is not something that can be achieved overnight. She said: “It’s a long-term process and it is worth trying a few ideas first rather than trying to tackle a huge employee engagement plan in one go.”
JANE’S TOP THREE TIPS
If you only do three things make them these:
1 Make all business leaders accountable for employee engagement, not just HR.
2 Keep it simple. Make your plan easy, clear and joined-up.
3 Invest in digitising. Employees expect it and businesses need it.
You can access a free copy of “Engage, Enable, Empower: The Powerhouse of Organisation Strategy” at [email protected]
Jane’s book, The People Formula, is £12.99 and available online and from bookshops.
Feedback from the audience at the Champions’ event was very positive, with participants mentioning take-away tips they would implement in their own business.
Derek MacMillan, Mercure Glasgow City, said: “I took away many points from Jane’s talk, including ‘the right people doing the right thing’ to help businesses.”
Amanda McDade, Springboard, said: “I think Jane’s point about having clear focus and strategy for employee engagement is so important. All too often the strategy is too large or wide-scale and it needs to be simple and clear to achieve anything.”
Kelly Johnstone, Scotland Director, Springboard, said: “I would feel far more confident about being able to get the board’s buy-in on the importance of employee engagement after listening to what Jane has said.”