Two simple yet overlooked rules about employee engagement

December 11, 2014 By Ro Gorell

Falling at the first hurdle of the employee engagement conundrum

Here’s a real story about a real person to illustrate what can happen. A friend of the family applied for another job and was really excited when they received their job offer. Like any sensible employee they waited until it was all confirmed in writing before handing in their notice.

They were getting excited about starting their new job and made plans for the transition during their notice period . Just before the end of their notice period the new employer contacted them to say that they were no longer able to go ahead with the job and were withdrawing the offer. Gutted doesn’t begin to describe how they were feeling – ‘betrayed’ is probaby closer to the truth. They are now unemployed through no fault of their own.

The first rule of employee engagement: create TRUST

What Happened?

Looking at the other side let’s consider what might have happened: perhaps the business changed and revenue that was in the pipeline failed to materialise or the job requirements changed or the hiring manager decided they couldn’t afford the headcount. And of course, to be fair perhaps something came up in the reference check. Who knows! The key thing is that the prospective employer breached the trust in the recruitment process.

Employer branding, company values and employee engagement stand or fall on the level of trust employees have in you, their employer. And quite frankly, if you’re prepared to treat a potential new recruit in this way, what might that mean for how you’re prepared to treat me, an employee? Employer branding isn’t just about fancy brochures and websites – it’s about the actual experience of employees and potential employees.

If In Doubt, Don’t!

One of the best lessons I learnt from my corporate career was joining a business in the early stages of its growth. We NEVER recruited anyone unless the role was justified by the business we were winning. And we had a rigorous authorisation process to make sure that managers had to think long and hard about why they were recruiting people. And Managers could be very robust in their criticism of the process; the fact remains that we never made an employment offer that we couldn’t honour.

No one likes to say ‘no’ because we want to be liked by others. And in the recruitment process this can be a real achilles’ heel. The thing is, if you have a robust recruitment process you should have the guts to say ‘No’ at any stage. And, if there is the slightest doubt that the job really exists then stop the recruitment process and tell the applicants the reason why. They might be disappointed but at least they’ll understand. Fairness and transparency help create trust. Injustices, perceived or real, dissipate trust in the blink of an eye.

The second rule of employee engagement: act HONOURABLY

Employee engagement is a mutually inclusive activity! It’s all in the mindset and should flow through all Talent policies and strategies.

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