Introduction to the interview.
This is a five part series interview with Graeme Ginsberg from London. Graeme is the Managing Editor, Research and Reports for Melcrum – the international research and training company focused on internal communication. I requested the interview go get a better understanding of Melcrum’s research and their current publication: The Practitioner’s Guide, Essential Techniques for Employee Engagement.
Today I am pleased to interview Graeme Ginsberg. Graeme is based in London and is the managing editor of research and reports for Melcrum. Graeme I was excited to read the abstract from your new Practitioner’s Guide, Essential Techniques for Employee Engagement. Thank you for agreeing to the interview.Are you surprised that employee engagement is not on the agenda of 19% of organizations and just a general philosophy in the people practices of 54% of other organizations?
For the 19%, I am surprised, absolutely. I think to myself, “How can any organization these days afford not to put motivating employees, helping them understand the strategic direction of the organization and their part in delivering it, and encouraging them to go the extra mile, at the top of their agenda?” The market is increasingly fluid and changeable, and organizations need to stay sharp and up their game if they’re going to compete, or in some cases even survive. My guess, though, is that for many of these 19%, it isn’t a lack of understanding about how important having a motivated, engaged workforce is.
I think it’s more a case of the leaders and managers having to juggle lots of time-consuming, stressful projects and responsibilities and feeling they just don’t have the time to conduct research, develop engagement strategies and tactics, change team structures and find new ways of working. To them, an engaged workforce would be a ‘nice-to-have luxury’ rather than a ‘must have’. They’re too busy ‘firefighting’ to recognize that it’s probably the other way round – engagement is actually a must have.
With an engaged workforce, the organization would be more secure and perform better, and they wouldn’t have to do so much firefighting! Meanwhile, with the 54% of organizations that are incorporating engagement as “just a general philosophy”, I think how surprising these results are will depend on how much you stress the word “just” – too much stress and it implies that this approach is an inferior one. It may be argued that incorporating engagement more generally into people practices is better for the organization than having a formal engagement program. After all, shouldn’t we be looking to engage employees as much as possible – through all our leadership and manager communications, change communications, business strategy communications, and so on – and not just within the context of an engagement program.
Perhaps organizations have the potential to achieve higher, more sustained levels of engagement by letting the ‘spirit’ of engagement flow through all their initiatives – even those areas that might be considered “necessary but by their nature not intuitively natural platforms for engagement” (for example, health and safety messages) or “difficult enough just to get the information across” (for example, financial results). Tim Haynes, Director of Executive Development at GlaxoSmithKline, makes this point really strongly in the Guide in the context of Appreciative Inquiry and employee surveys. I would think that there isn’t ultimately any one correct approach for all, though – it’ll depend on the nature of the organization, the strategic direction, the structures in place, the culture and so on.
Part 2 (next post): The acceleration of focus on employee engagement.