How To Launch A Successful Employee Engagement Program

How To Launch A Successful Employee Engagement Program

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 3:55pm

CONTENT: Article

HR professionals know that launching an initiative aimed at increasing employee engagement within an organization is a considerable challenge. After all, recent Gallup numbers show that only 13 percent of employees worldwide report feeling engaged in their jobs.

Yet there are best practices that can help ensure success—particularly when there is the opportunity to closely partner with HR leadership to adapt core practices.

At TD Bank, our Environmental Affairs team recently joined forces with HR to launch an Environmental Employee Engagement Program. Since its inception in 2013, this program has already engaged nearly 50 percent of our employee population, while measurably advancing our corporate-wide sustainability efforts and goals.

Our experience uncovered four best practices for business leaders and HR professionals working together to launch a successful employee engagement initiative:

  1. Do not wait until they are hired—build your program into the recruiting process: At some organizations, engagement initiatives are introduced as an afterthought during the onboarding process. This is a missed opportunity. In order to ensure success, companies need to start the enrollment process at the very beginning.
    By linking your engagement initiative into pre-employment activities, you prove its importance and value to the future of your organization. There are a number of ways to do this beyond merely including information in recruitment materials and mentioning it in interviews. For instance, some organizations incorporate their engagement initiatives into college internship programs.
  2. Maintain momentum—incorporate the initiative into onboarding and training: After starting the process during hiring, bring new employees up to full-speed during the onboarding process. The goal is to develop authentic excitement for the program among new employees, while ingraining its deeper value.
    Make sure to highlight the engagement effort holistically— including its history, goals and successes to date. This may require a standalone learning module or initial training session devoted to the initiative. Additionally, make sure the program is a tangible part of your organization’s ongoing training. If your initiatives are environmentally-focused like TD’s, this could mean offering optional training courses on practical sustainability and the environment.
  3. Make it pay off—link your engagement and recognition programs: Once you have introduced employees to your engagement initiative and conveyed its value, you must provide real incentives to reinforce active participation.
    One of the most effective ways to do this is to link your initiative with existing rewards and recognition programs. At TD Bank, we have a standalone environment platform that is built into our overall rewards and recognition program. As a part of this platform, employees of all levels can give a colleague a "shout-out" for doing things like holding paperless meetings or telling customers about how we volunteer to plant trees in their communities. We have consistently found this aspect to be a key motivator for our employees when it comes to participating in our program— and enhancing their overall levels of engagement.
  4. Increase the pay-off—tie the initiative to leadership development: If you really want your initiative to stick, increase the pay-off. One way to do this is to allow employees to enter the leadership pipeline, or move up within the pipeline, by displaying superior work in the context of the engagement program. For instance, test out whether or not a mid-level manager is ready for the next step by adding leadership responsibilities relative to the engagement initiative onto their usual workload.
    Increasing the pay-off for employees who go above and beyond can have numerous benefits. First, it encourages longer-term retention among engaged employees. Second, it can increase the influence of your initiative from the top-down, once these high performers become higher-level leaders. For instance, at TD Bank, some senior leaders have begun voluntarily adding environmental goals to their teams’ annual objectives.

Incorporating your employee engagement initiative more deeply into the entirety of the HR process will help the program take root and flourish. However, it will only be successful if you’re able to infuse the program into the existing company culture. A strong company culture can drive loyalty, growth and customer acquisition.

At TD, our culture provides legendary employee experiences that lead to strong engagement throughout. This type of culture allows employees to identify with the company and serves as an inspiration. Creating an engagement program that seamlessly fits into the pre-existing culture is key to success from all levels.


CATEGORY: Environment