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Building An Engaged Workforce

A poorly designed office, or one in an inconvenient location, can have a detrimental effect on workplace productivity. Read the full article

March 07, 2018

Engaging And Building An Engaged Workforce

Employee Engagement could easily be written off as another corporate buzz-phrase, so it is worth understanding what an engaged employee is. Engaged employees perform better as they feel aligned to the goals of an organisation. Engaged employees arrive with a sense of purpose and appreciate that their efforts are compensated with more than a salary. The positivity of an engaged employee will reverberate around an office and will affect other people. So why, if an engaged workforce delivers so many benefits, is there so much skepticism regarding Employee Engagement?
I was invited to speak at Engaging and Building an Engaged Workforce, a panel discussion as part of the Wellbeing at Work Conference, held in Dubai. Listening to the experiences of others it became apparent that efforts are being made to engage staff but there is no clear structure or plan , efforts are sporadic, and themes are inconsistent.

Of the people in attendance only some were able to state having some strategy or plan in their company had  to engage employees, some still felt that it is still being done as a as ‘box ticking’ exercise. The general consensus however was that engagement initiatives were launched but that campaign’s didn’t cascade well through the organisation.

There are however green shoots appearing and one attendee said his company noticed a definite change in attitude when his company involved staff in the decision making process. Furthermore, something as simple as acknowledgement for a job well done was described as having a positive effect, whether formal or just by way of a ‘thank you’.

Focus groups and committees also proved to be successful, as did addressing workplace silos such as lunch breaks and start times. A more involved level of participation from senior management was also lauded as having an effect on morale, site visits were highlighted as one area in particular which could be easily manageable and promote an overall feeling of teamwork with staff members.

One extremely important aspect of Employee Engagement is the workplace itself. Much has been made about leisure areas which include bean bags, activity frames, and mini-football tables, but not every company has allocate space to allow employees to ‘play’. But, even the smallest of offices can be improved to help a team perform better. How much natural light is in the room and does the person sitting nearest to it suffer from being too hot as the sun pours through the window? Likewise, are the people in the shade too cold as the air conditioning is set to cool those who feel too hot? Does the layout of the furniture make employees feel they are being herded into small cubicles, only waiting until 5pm to leave? Or does the office feel like a place people want to be. Feel is an important word in relation to Employee Engagement.

The 2017 refit of our MENA offices included meeting areas for staff to use for conversation. We found that when two people needed to speak to each other they were forced to use a phone or email, or one would squat near the chair of another. Rows of chairs are not conducive to good teamwork. Today,  two employees can sit in a comfortable open booth and talk face to face about plans and ideas without inconveniencing themselves or others. We should not forget that we spend substantial amount of time in office and hence workplace strategy very much works as part of employee engagement strategy.

Perhaps, rather than looking at what an engaged employee can achieve, we should look at how a disengaged employee performs. Could this be the catalyst employee engagement programs need to succeed?

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