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Using a Certified Management System to Engage Employees

02 July 2018
Just how much do my employees genuinely care what happens to the company’s future? If you aren’t sure of the answers yet, it’s OK.

One of the key factors to running a successful business is knowing how to engage employees. If the leaders of a business or organization understand the level of passion and drive their workforce has for the job, they will already a step ahead of the competition.

Company management want your employees to have pride in what they do and in the company they work for. Those staff who work with purpose put forth their best efforts; a practice that can only benefit the goal of the organization. It’s important to look at every aspect of why people do the work they do and what drives them to do it.

Ask yourself, just how much do my employees genuinely care what happens to the company’s future? Are they dedicated to helping it grow and be successful? If you aren’t sure of the answers yet, it’s OK.

For an employee to be engaged, they are motivated to work hard towards a common goal that is in line with the company’s vision. They will be committed to the values their organization represents. Engaged employees will have a clear view and understanding of the objectives of the work they are doing.

A few factors to consider in this area are the company and its leadership. You can’t expect your staff to become engaged if there is no clear and decisive message for them to embrace. Before you can start to measure their level of engagement ask yourself the following:

  • Are your company’s goals and visions clear and concise?

  • Do the employees understand these goals?

  • Is there a clear link between the employee’s work and the company’s goals?

  • Can the employees see how their work ultimately contributes to the success of the business?

  • Is the leadership of the organization present and able to motivate the workforce?

  • Are the managers equipped with the skills needed to lead a team to success?

This might sound like a difficult task, but those with management systems in place (particularly those such as the new ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 standards) you already have the tools in place to achieve all of the above elements.

The newly issued versions of these management standards recognise the importance of employee engagement and encourage this in their various clauses. These include:

  • Section 5.1.1 (Leadership and commitment) – engaging, directing and supporting employees from the top down, to contribute to the Management System.

  • Section 7.3 (Awareness) – encouraging familiarity with the Management System, including any policies and objectives. Also, making employees aware of their own responsibilities, expressing how vital they are in the success of the business and the implications of not conforming to them.

  • Section 10.2 (Nonconformity and corrective action) – getting everyone in your organization involved in the Management System by having them report instances of when the Management System is not working as it should.

So how do we use those standards to engage our staff?

  • Clearly define your goal, targets and objectives.

By clearly identifying and communicating your businesses goals, objectives and associated targets, employees will have the information allowing them to be able to understand the impact that their role has on the bigger picture and will be more likely to contribute to process improvement. That is why all of the aforementioned Management Systems require clear definition of the objectives and the associated plans that will enable them to be achieved.

These must be communicated across the business and those who have a role to play in their achievement must clearly how their input will contribute, what is required of them and the measures of success that will be used.

  • Training, awareness and Competency

Not everyone will have the same levels of experience and training within your organization. Research shows that over three quarters of employees want employers to understand them as much as they do their customers. By reviewing and indeed setting the competencies required across the business you are one step closer to understanding the needs of your team as well as improving their knowledge and skill which will result in a better service and improved customer experience.

Management Systems require the use of competency records and evaluation, for each role within your organisation, ensuring that all employees are at the level you and they require.

  • Communication

Communicating the overall aims of the company as enshrined within the various policy statements required is a key driver. Your staff should be one of the key “interested parties” as defined in Clause 4.2 which requires that you define and understand their communication needs in terms what, why, how and when.

The standards require that communication is made in a way relevant and in form easily understood by the recipient.

  • Set an example

A well-worn phrase is “walk the walk and not just talk the talk”. This is particularly true in the revised standards and the leadership clause. It is important for leaders to set an example to everyone else within the organisation – good management and work behaviours in leaders will inspire better behaviours from others. Try and create a supportive environment by trusting the knowledge and experience of those you employ – if you want to know about a particular job, ask the person concerned – they will know best and be all too keen to tell you.

An important part of setting a good example is remembering to also admit when a mistake has been made. Employees value honesty, therefore dodging accountability can be incredibly damaging. Being a good leader requires confidence in your own decisions and those of your team, with the ability to own them when they fail. The very best leaders take the blame but share the credit.

  • Gather and act on feedback received

Show your staff that you value them by listening to and acting upon their feedback. Meaningful feedback can cover anything from adjusting internal processes through to improving the customer experience, suggesting a workplace social event to proposing a new training course.

Remember, it’s not just the employee who will benefit from these changes. By amending processes and making them more efficient, you ensure that your employees become more productive enabling you to utilise them better – making the business and them more efficient.

Many of the recommendations made will fall under the practice of continual improvement, something that is considered imperative within all of the ISO Management Standards.

  • Set Expectations

Sometimes employees can become disheartened and lose interest if they find they don’t have a clear path to follow while carrying out their role. If roles are left undefined, work can often end up being duplicated by others and resources continuously wasted – this is often cited as a common cause of workplace stress.

Definition and communication of roles and responsibilities is another key requirement of the management standards. Keep staff engaged and ensure that they remain fully productive by clearly stating expectations and setting goals that they can measure their own progress against. 

  • Share the success

Take the opportunity to share business successes with your employees, tell them how the success was achieved and highlight any part they played. Even if you don’t mention an individual specifically, if they can see how they contributed to that success it can bring about a sense of shared achievement and help to promote more collaborations going forward.

A fully engaged workforce will be the result if you use your management system fully and in the right manner so that all members of your organisation can give of their best each day, committed to your goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success and with an enhanced sense of their own well-being.