Our winning formula for employee engagement success

Developing people, teams and cultures with th...What is potential and how can you spot it?

At Thomas, we practice what we preach and our assessments are at the core of everything we do. We believe that our people are our business and are committed to their development and to providing the best possible working environment for them. Our own engagement tool, Thomas Engage, has been vital in helping us to identify where we as an employer can improve to make life at Thomas even better for our employees. So, how did we do it?

Our employees are our strongest asset so we know how important it is to ensure that they feel they have a voice, are appreciated, and recognise that each and every one of them is an important part of our fantastic team. We have ambitious growth plans and so keeping the team engaged and motivated is vital as we strive towards our goals. Rolling Engage out internally on an annual basis allows us to monitor the levels of engagement in our business, gain an insight into our employees' pain points, and create action plans to take engagement to the next level. Read on for a step-by-step guide to how we get maximum value from Thomas Engage.

How do we use Engage?

We use Engage for two key reasons:

  1.  To establish the level of engagement in our business and to identify any areas of concern
  2.  To understand the overall management style of the business and how different divisions within it compare

We slice and dice the results from the survey based on various demographics (function, gender, age etc.) to gain an insight into how the levels compare across different groups. For us, comparing the results of our office-based staff with those of our remote teams allowed us to see how well we are communicating with each of these two groups and tailor our actions plans to suit both of them.

Using Engage each year is key - it allows us to see how effective our actions plans are and where we still need to do more. To ensure engagement is monitored throughout the year and any issues dealt with, we have incorporated the seven drivers of engagement (see below) into our monthly 1:1 forms. 

What were our objectives ahead of the most recent Engage rollout?

  • Establish the overall engagement level and breakdown by various demographics
  • Compare with the engagement level for the previous year
  • Use the insights to develop a strategy to boost engagement
  • Use the information to provide guidance to Heads of Department who require support with improving engagement levels within their team
  • Give employees a voice
  • Factor the outcomes into business planning for 2016 (we ran the survey in Q3 of 2015)

How were the results communicated to the business?

Our senior leadership team were taken through the Engage results and an open discussion was conducted around how best to cascade the information. To ensure objectivity when delivering feedback, we asked each manager to take a team that they do not head up through the results. Every employee was then given the opportunity to ask questions as well as given a copy of the full report to take away and read. The report contains company-wide information, as well as a breakdown of each function. Anonymity is protected as each demographic has to contain a minimum number of people. Check out a sample report here.

What were our key challenges?

A number of our teams work remotely, so our biggest challenge was to help them to feel included and break down a "them and us" mentality. Some teams across the business identified as having a "laissez faire" management style, which meant that freedom was high but clarity was lacking, so we are trying to engender a more participative management style across all teams. We anticipate that this will improve clarity, as employees will be working with high levels of freedom but also with much clearer direction.

What action plans did we implement?

Following on from the report feedback sessions, we created a series of exercises on the engagement drivers for Heads of Departments to run at team meetings to promote discussion and group action planning and to encourage every employee to take responsibility to working on engagement as well as those in the senior team.

One of our key business drivers in 2016 has been our health and wellbeing strategy, which links closely with engagement. In addition to a rating for each of the seven drivers of engagement, our monthly 1:1 forms also include questions around work/life balance and pressure of work. We surveyed our employees to hear their thoughts on organisational health and as a result have implemented new fitness and social activities, as well as creating new breakout areas to encourage staff spend time away from their screens during lunchtimes.

We record how every employee rates the seven drivers in each of their monthly 1:1s, meaning we can track where we are in terms of engagement at any point in the year, as well as which teams or individuals have noticed significant shifts in engagement. This gives our managers and HR team the data they need to help make improvements throughout the year and gives our employees a voice. Doing this has really helped our employees to have open and honest discussions in a safe and confidential setting.

What happens next?

  • Regular monitoring of engage drivers in 1:1s and reviews in senior leadership meetings to ensure proper support and strategy is implemented
  • HR team supporting managers by attending 1:1s
  • Continual enhancement of our health and wellbeing programme
  • Rollout of next Engage in Q3 of this year to feed into our business planning for 2017

Do you want to identify and boost engagement levels in your organisation and become a best place to work? Or perhaps you already use Engage and want to have a further conversation about best practice and getting maximum value for your organisation? Give us a call on 01628 475 366 or email info@thomas.co.uk and take the first step towards an engaged workforce.

Louise Basu, HR Director

Louise Basu, HR Director

Louise joined Thomas in 2013 following a HR career within consumer finance and the pharmaceutical industry. Louise is passionate about ensuring the HR function is both approachable and integrated across the business, driving the Thomas values through workplace engagement. Louise is CIPD qualified with a French and Spanish degree.

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