It's been over a decade since the concept of Employee Engagement emerged amongst senior executives leading large organizations. Today, many C-Level executives have their annual performance reports and KPIs tied to employee engagement results.
Furthermore, leading research and consulting companies such as Gallup, McKinsey&Company and Towers Watson have built practices around the concept of employee engagement. The industry has grown to a point whereby annual spending is in the tens of millions as companies attempt to define, understand, track and improve employee engagement.
Recently, Gallup Business Journal published a short case study explaining the process they followed to assist a hospitality company with an employee engagement project.
This article was of particular interest to me because Mumba Cloud works very closely with one of the world's largest hospitality companies. We have a deep understanding of this industry and any insights are of great value to us.
Their client was seeking to understand the differences between their successful hotel properties compared to their less successful ones. They then wanted to identify the key opportunities that would help drive business improvements and finally share these best practice lessons with the rest of the organization. The selection of engagement objectives were aligned to financial objectives thereby assisting their client to calculate a return on their investment.
Employees in hospitality companies are geographically dispersed, non-office based and usually work on shifts within small teams. Naturally the issues that Gallup identified were around employees feeling 'siloed' by their business function and/or property location, performance management was weak and managers were reluctant to challenge the status quo.
The final paragraph of the article concluded that "Engagement doesn't come from conducting a survey or reading a report. It's an ongoing process, and it often takes place in everyday exchanges."
While I appreciate the case study has been summarized for the web, the points are sound and the results are impressive. Being in the enterprise social networking industry, we've been immersed in employee engagement for a long time, both from a solution provider and consultancy perspective. This article however emphasises the unfortunate disconnect between employee engagement and enterprise social networking.
Consultancies such as Gallup consistently discuss the need for continual focus on employee engagement however stop short of identifying practical tools to achieve this.
We at Mumba Cloud have been passionately advocating that the fundamental characteristic for increasing employee engagement is through effective communication. If companies can't communicate with their employees then how do they stand a chance of building fruitful relationships?
Enterprise Social Networking is the technology that has emerged to achieve effective and consistent communication. While offering a range of applications, the primary purpose for any enterprise social network is to facilitate communication between all employees - even those part-time or contract shift workers in hotels that don't have access to secure company systems. Enterprise Social Networking is secure, BYOD compliant and available to these workers via their smart-phones.
If Gallups hospitality client is serious about continuing their pursuit of engagement, and it sounds like they are, they should be learning how to implement enterprise social networking. Furthermore, consultancies like Gallup should be offering informed consulting and implementation services that includes cultural, change management and social business policy advice.
Leveraging communication through enterprise social networking provides a real opportunity for consultancies and their clients to achieve genuine employee engagement with sustainable, long term competitive advantages.