I have a surefire way of getting into Mrs R’s good books. Treat her to the ultimate in breakfast luxury –a smoked salmon omelette on top of hot buttered toast. As I cracked a second egg into the mixing bowl on Sunday morning, a message on the packaging caught my eye. “Our girls are expertly looked after by our dedicated and devoted farmers”.
Now I’m no Dr Dolittle, so I cannot confirm whether the care the Happy Egg Company’s farmers lavish on their chickens makes their birds cheerful, contented souls that lay a higher standard of egg. But new government-backed research on human employees reveals that there is a virtuous circle between employee engagement and wellbeing, so I’ve no reason to doubt the same is not true for poultry.
You’d think that human staff who are happy in their work environment would be eager to spread the word about their good fortune, but a proclamation along the lines of “Our products are superior because they are made by fully engaged, motivated British workers” remains as rare as hen’s teeth.
So why does Britain produce below average employee engagement scores when compared with other countries? Many researchers point their finger at employers, claiming they fail to implement policies that promote staff motivation.
Now I don’t disagree with this view, but what the researchers fail to realise is we Brits are a very reserved bunch who think it vulgar to express our emotions.
We don’t wear our heart on our sleeve. And even when we do express our pride in a fashion comparable to other more vocal nations, the flags we will be flying during the upcoming World Cup will be folded up and put away in a drawer as soon as Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and the rest of the England team are on the way back home from Brazil.
If it takes a World Cup or Royal celebration to relax our stiff upper lip, what hope do researchers have of getting us to admit we are engaged employees?
Not a lot. But that doesn’t mean employee engagement policies should join the St George’s flags in the darkest recesses of the filing cabinet.
4 key ingredients of an employee engagement strategy
- Empowering leadership who provide a strong strategic narrative about the company
- Managers who coach and stretch the staff under their control while treating them as individuals
- Opportunities for employees to have their say
- Ensuring the company values that you have distributed to all staff members are reflected in day-to-day behaviours
Businesses have a lot to gain from putting in place these four key ingredients of a successful employee engagement policy. Just don’t expect your staff to shout about their happiness from the rooftops…