While the success of a company or business is dependent on the product or service offered, its long-term success is heavily dependent on engaged employees. Without dedication and a desire from staff to want to do their best work, the long-term success of a company is all too often going to falter. So what makes for a truly engaged workforce? There are many things that can contribute – recognition, remuneration, growth opportunities – but perhaps one of the most important aspects is staff involvement. There are many approaches companies can take to engage staff. Having been ranked as one of the top 5 employers in Hamilton in 2016, I turned to McMaster University to explore their approach to, in their words, create a work environment for staff that encompasses respect, recognition and engagement.
McMaster administrative department employees have an abundance of opportunities available to encourage employee engagement including but not limited to recognition and wellness programs, volunteer and networking opportunities, personal and professional development experiences and the implementation of Mosaic, an enterprise resource planning system connect the more than 7,300 staff internally and externally with stakeholders.
As noted on the McMaster University website:
Organizational Development recognizes employees as one of the university’s most valuable assets.
As such, it is important to engage employees. For the 2016 employee engagement survey, McMaster employed the services of Metrics@Work, a leading provider of organizational measurement and consulting with core expertise in employee engagement, action planning and organizational change, and leadership development.
Engagement surveys provide the opportunity to understand and identify employee concerns and interest through anonymous input through a third party to develop insights to improve job satisfaction and the development of a healthy and “engaged” work environment.
In addition, this format allows for the ability to benchmark not only within the organization but across an entire database in a specific sector. While this is not the be all and end all, it allows staff to see how McMaster’s engagement results compare to other universities. Where there are areas requiring improvement, there is great value to see if this is across the board, or if this is something more specific to McMaster. In the latter case, this would allow for collaboration with other universities to explore what is being done differently to produce more positive results and vice versa.
The Approach Matters
Through the Human Resources Services Organizational Development roll out of its bi-annual employee engagement survey, administrative department employees are being given a voice. This is a true commitment to giving staff an uncensored, anonymous opportunity to share what works and what doesn’t, and then work together with team leaders, and Human Resources to develop action plans to address areas of concern.
While the tool itself is of significant importance, it is the preparation that actually speaks volumes about the final result. One of the biggest hurdles for employers seeking to gain employee feedback is simply to have staff buy in. HR took a chance with a model of creative social networking and employee relations to promote and encourage staff and the approach was well received.
“We were quite pleased with the participation,” said Melanie Garaffa, Senior Manager, Organizational Development, Human Resources Services, McMaster University. Further, the internal feedback from participants has been very positive and aspects of the approach are being weaved into varying areas across the university when implementing climate surveys.
She went on to explain that the survey is really just one tool, but the creation of ambassadors and providing them with the tools to network and encourage participation is what really helped with the process.
Ms. Garaffa said that since implementing the new engagement survey and supporting methodologies “you can see dynamic change. In certain areas, there has been a 360 turn around.”
Ms. Garaffa said that the promotional video tailored toward McMaster’s model really assisted in getting the message out there in a different capacity and providing ambassadors with unique tools. Since commencing this system of engagement, the number of ambassadors has doubled and the actual participation of staff achieved a participation rate of 69% compared to an average participation in the low 40s.
Lessons for Others
So while the actual tools implemented by an organization to attempt to engage employees are of great importance, McMaster is an example of how the need to prepare can go a long way in your final outcomes. The world of social media is still heavily focused on marketing externally but it can also be used to assist employees internally and encourage a more engaged workforce.
Name of Organization Contact: Melanie Garaffa, Senior Manager, Organizational Development, Human Resources Services
Authored by: S. Birett
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Hamilton-Niagara’s Top Employers. Retrieved September 2016, from http://www.canadastop100.com/niagara/
McMaster University. Retrieved September 28, 2016, from http://www.mcmaster.ca/opr/html/opr/our_campus/main/our_campus.html and http://www.workingatmcmaster.ca/engagement/
McMasterUTV. Retrieved September 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/user/McMasterUTV
Metrics@Work. Retrieved September 2016, from http://metricsatwork.ca/
Wikipedia. Retrieved September 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employee_engagement