Tag Archives: employee engagement news

Microsoft reveals its new employee engagement tool

Microsoft has revealed its latest employee engagement tool: huge treehouses.

The tech giant believes moving employees closer to nature will help improve “creativity, focus and happiness.”

The result?

See for yourself:

As you can see, the usual stuffy conference rooms and corporate rows of desks have been swapped for wooden beams and pinecones dropping on the newly built deck.

Based at Microsoft’s 500-acre Redmond Campus in Washington, the outdoor meetings spaces are home to several treehouses and an elevated meeting point called the Crow’s Nest.

It has Wi-Fi, of course, as well as plenty of places to plug your tablet or laptop in too.

So how do all these inspire employees?

Microsoft is keen to point towards the work of Harvard physician Eva M. Selhub, co-author of Your Brain on Nature.

She wrote: “Nature stimulates reward neurons in your brain. It turns off the stress response, which means you have lower cortisol levels, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improved immune response.

“Trees and plants secrete aromatic chemicals that impact our cognition, mental state, and even our immunity.”

Microsoft treehouse

With this in mind, Microsoft saw the opportunity to re-imagine how employees go about their daily tasks.

Shanon Bernstine, a business manager who helped plan the spaces, explained to the Microsoft blog: “The first thing [you notice] when you walk into the space is that everyone is really quiet. You stop talking and are just present.

“It’s fascinating. People absorb the environment, and it changes the perception of their work and how they can do it.”

Being closer to nature does bring disadvantages too – as some colleagues have already pointed out.

Microsoft treehouse

Bret Boulter, who headed up the project, said: “A lot of people are like, ‘where’s the AV?’ And I’m like, it’s a treehouse.

“We wanted people to intentionally unplug, because they are sitting in front of screens all day long.

“Being more creative and flexible with our workspace allows us to be more creative and productive in our work and the products we create. It’s like a little getaway.”

UK brands ‘lag behind US customer experience – due to employee engagement’

A lack of employee engagement is the main reason why UK firms struggle to compete with US businesses on customer experience, new research claims.

British organisations lag behind American firms on customer experience ratings, according to latest findings from workplace culture specialists KPMG Nunwood.

And experts believe the UK’s inability to get to grips with understanding how to engage employees is a decisive factor.

David Conway, senior partner and chief strategy officer at KPMG Nunwood, told Marketing Week: “US brands are very focused on how employees interact with customers, the type of behaviours they use and the service levels they aspire to.

“Their target for a great experience is far higher than companies in the UK.”

The US Customer Experience Excellence report, which was conducted in March, saw 100 US brands score an average of 7.75 out of 10.

The UK equivalent happened in September and saw British companies score an average of 7.33.

Tellingly, 58 US organisations scored more than an eight. Only four UK firms managed the feat.

“At the last count, 30% of Fortune 500 companies have organised themselves around customer needs rather than departments or functions,” said Mr Conway.

“There is a substantial difference in how those companies are going to market and managing the experience delivery.”

He added employee engagement plays a crucial role in this, which is something UK brands “haven’t quite caught hold of.”

Mr Conway points to W Hotels, a new entry in 6th place in the US research, for reaping the benefits from an engaged workforce.

Employee engagement

He added: “It doesn’t call people staff or employees, it calls them talent, and it doesn’t refer to the maid as a housekeeper, she is a stylist.

“It’s got a really interesting set of words it uses that make people think about what they do.

“W is totally focused on delivering a great experience for employees and then encouraging them to behave in the right way for the customer.”

To read the full article, visit Marketing Week here….

What does engagement mean to you?

Matt Johnson reflects on the recent launch session of Engage for Success Milton Keynes, one of a number of local groups being established around the country to foster a culture of #lovewhereyouwork.

Employee engagement’ is one of the most liberally dispensed terms in the business world, but ask any group of people what it really means and you’re unlikely to hear the same answer twice.

It isn’t just that people interpret engagement differently. It actually means different things to different people. The way we engage with others, our reasons for doing so and the outcomes we expect all differ depending on numerous factors.

So how do we know if we’re engaging people effectively, or even at all?

According to Cathy Brown, Executive Director, Engage for Success, there are four enablers of engagement that apply in any scenario – wherever you are, whatever you do and whoever you’re engaging with.

1) Visibly empowering leadership that provides strong strategic narrative (i.e. where the organisation has come from, where it’s going and how employees can contribute)
2) Engaging managers who focus on their people, treat them as individuals, coach and develop them
3) Facilitating employee voice throughout the organisation – both internally and externally
4) Organisational integrity, which means the values displayed on the wall are reflected in everyday behaviour.

Engage for Success event in Milton Keynes.

These enablers don’t aim to define what engagement is – a single, universal definition is frankly impossible given the near-infinite number of variables.

Instead, they provide a framework on which to build effective engagement strategies.

Employers and managers should be wary of trying to define engagement too precisely. As Cathy explained during the launch session, some of the most commonly held perceptions in this area are erroneous.

Engagement is not:

• Everybody pulling in the same direction. This could be done through fear. If that’s the case then, in the end, everyone will burn out.
• Productivity. People can be productive, but not necessarily creative or innovative.
• Doing your job. If you’re doing your job in a way that just ticks the boxes then you’re not engaged. This can harm the employer/employee relationship and also the organisation’s reputation.

To find out more about employee engagement and Engage for Success, visit engageforsuccess.org
To find out more about the Milton Keynes Engage for Success group or join the mailing list for future events, email Sue Kiddy, one of the launch team.
Engage for Success blog: Milton Keynes Event: Lifting The ‘OK’ Group #lovewhereyouwork

Your employee survey: when positive can be negative

The way you report your organisation’s employee engagement survey results is as important as the survey itself, according to research just published by Engage for Success.

The report warns of the risk of stifling the employee voice through percentage positive reporting.

The infographic [below], created by Headlines – the Internal Communications Agency to accompany the report, highlights this common pitfall and how to avoid it.

Engage for Success infographic

Click to view full-size Engage for Success infographic.

The report, Engaging the Engaged?, is based on research into employee engagement in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector.

Its title is prompted by the finding that many of the 827,000 people employed in the NFP sector in the UK are engaged more with the cause than their organisation as a place to work.

This means their employee survey results can show artificially high levels of engagement. The report offers insights and tools that can help organisations in any sector get a more accurate picture of their employee engagement levels – and learn how best to act on them.

James Court-Smith, of Stillae Ltd, one of the contributors, explained how percentage positive reporting – the common practice of grouping together the percentage of employees who have responded ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’ – denies employees of their voice: “Say I had scored ‘strongly disagree’ on a question last year, but then we’d made significant progress so this year I scored ‘neither agree nor disagree’. That’s a huge shift upwards but percentage positive reporting would totally ignore this.”

David MacLeod, Engage for Success co-founder and chair, said organisations ignored the employee voice at their peril: “It’s one of the cheapest and most effective ‘smoke alarms’ you can get because it means little niggles can be caught and acted upon early on.”

Download Engaging the Engaged? the full report
Download the infographic

Engage for Success set for Milton Keynes bow

Engage for Success is coming to Milton Keynes – and you can be part of it.

The employee engagement think-tank has established an MK branch with its first meeting scheduled for next month.

Engage for Success is a voluntary organisation that aims to “grow awareness about the power and potential of employee engagement.”

The inaugural meeting of the Engage for Success Milton Keynes Group will take place on Thursday, May 18.

Silke Brittain, Headlines’ Commercial Director, has been a driving force behind the creation of the new group.

She said: “It is a wonderful opportunity to help spread the positive message about employee engagement in the Milton Keynes area.

“Engaged employees can make all the difference, ensuring workplaces in the UK are thriving, growing and developing through the commitment, energy, and creativity of their employees.

“Many IC practitioners face the same challenges so the meeting will be a great opportunity to share experiences, challenges and best practice.”

Speakers will include Cathy Brown, Executive Director of Engage for Success, on the four enablers of employee engagement, and Katy Downes, Senior Engagement Manager, Network Rail, who will consider the importance of employee voice, one of the enablers.

The event, which will run between 8am and 11am, will also include an interactive session considering the hot engagement topics facing Milton Keynes employers today.

The meeting will be held at Network Rail, The Quadrant:MK, Elder Gate, Milton Keynes, MK9 1EN.

Entry is free but places are limited.

To book a space, visit our event page here….