Employee engagement strategies that create urgency to change

30 July, 2019
Employee engagement strategies

Avoid a crisis by creating urgency

Some organisations stumble from one crisis to another, believing that their actions constitute “change” as they react to events that have happened. The most successful organisations avoid crisis. They use employee engagement strategies to create a sense of urgency that drives proactive organisational change. This kind of change helps an organisation to avoid complacency and build and maintain its competitive advantage.


Why employee engagement strategies should focus on urgency

Only with a sense of urgency can organisations build the momentum to motivate team collaboration with vision. Without this collaboration, change initiatives are most likely to fail. You need your people to cooperate with organisational change. It is this cooperation that helps drive an organisation toward its vision.

These five employee engagement strategies will help you achieve the sense of urgency needed to develop a culture of change within your organisation.


1. Copy the success of others

Examine how other organisations have constructed their employee engagement strategies and executed successful organisational change. What did they do to build a sense of urgency, create a collaborative approach and develop buy-in to their vision and goals?

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, customise existing, successful strategies to your own organisation’s unique circumstances.


2. Communicate creatively and consistently to capture hearts and minds

An organisation’s leadership team may be well versed in the needs for change. Leaders may have discussed and deliberated, plotted a course, and created a plan for execution of an organisational change initiative. Communicating the need for change is crucial. Doing so effectively is one of the biggest challenges an organisation’s leadership faces, and one of its most effective strategies to build engagement.

Your people need to know what is happening and why. They need to understand their roles and responsibilities and be able to envision the future in the context of the present. It is imperative that you bring the future to life in a way that speaks to everyone.

At Amazon, CEO Jeff Bezos makes change fun and exciting. He considers slide presentations to be the enemy of creativity and effective change management and employee motivation. Instead, Bezos uses business storytelling techniques to win hearts and minds. This provides engaging answers to the most important questions:

  • What opportunities will people benefit from during and after the change?
  • What are the risks of not changing, of remaining at the status quo?


3. Lead by example

Your employee engagement strategies will fall on deaf ears if your executives do not lead by example. It is imperative that leaders and managers show their commitment to the organisation’s vision with a sense of urgency. If leaders and managers fail to do this, all your employee engagement strategies will fail. Employees who feel that their managers are not committed to the change will not commit to it themselves.


4. Address resistance to change

Resistance to change is almost inevitable. Communicating effectively will ensure that leaders and managers can reduce this resistance, but pockets of resistance may still exist. It is vital that you reinforce the drivers and benefits of change and tackle concerns before they germinate. You must also tackle behaviours that undermine urgency and generate resistance.


5. Recognise performance toward your vision

A strategy that helps to maintain engagement and a sense of urgency is one that ensures high-performing employees are recognised and rewarded for their contribution to the change initiative. However, this should not be a single event. You must design a rewards programme, set measurable goals and communicate constantly about progress. The idea is to motivate employees through recognition and reward.


Employee engagement strategies in action

It was a challenging time for Arriva – public sector cuts, the takeover by Deutsche Bahn and the impact of increased unemployment and people having less disposable income on patronage. But there is also a huge opportunity – for a significant number of people, the bus is replacing the car for some if not all journeys – due to cost, convenience and environmental pressures. In addition, some competitors are struggling. To take maximum advantage of the potential, Arriva Bus needed all 19,000 employees to be truly committed.

Yet Arriva knew from a previous employee survey that only 34% of employees were aware of what the company wanted to achieve in the next 12 months.

Arriva chose to work with The Big Picture People to create a pictorial representation of the Why, the What and the How the strategy could come to life.  This formed the heart of the Learning Map that was developed. To ensure consistency in message on the key points, a comprehensive facilitators’ guide was produced to aid the leaders as they took part in three hour workshops with 8-10 employees at a time.

Following the roll-out of the Learning Map initiative, in a subsequent employee survey, across the board, the percentage of employees aware of what the company wanted to achieve in the next 12 months had increased to 67% – a fantastic 33% uplift. You can read the case study here.


In summary

Effective internal communication should be at the heart of your employee engagement strategies. It is imperative to win the hearts and minds of your people to create the sense of urgency that will drive your organisational change forward.

By communicating creatively, engaging employees in your purpose and ensuring that leaders and managers show their commitment to change consistently and constantly, your people are more likely to connect with your purpose. Ensuring that incentives, recognition and rewards match the effort expended by employees will reinforce the importance of change and the positive effects it will have.

To learn how the Learning Map could help you to improve your organisation’s effectiveness in organisational change management, get in touch with The Big Picture People today.

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