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Engagement: happy to stay
The concept of engagement is central to the management of human resources at Coates. Essentially it involves having employees that, while having the option to leave, actually choose to stay. The company does not want employees who only stay because they feel they have nowhere else to go. Engagement at Coates is illustrated below.
The benefits of having engaged employees are clear: they will 'go the extra mile' for customers which will contribute to over all business success.
How does Coates rate itself in relation to levels of engagement? It benchmarks itself against other, similar businesses, including the best performers. This benchmarking process involves using a set of measures, applying them internally through its own 'Climate Survey' and then using them to compare performance with other companies. Diagram 1 shows the results of this benchmarking process.
The results show that Coates has achieved a solid level of engagement. In particular, the survey showed that Coates has performed better than other businesses in areas such as career opportunities, quality of work locations and work tasks. Some areas for improvement included work/life balance, recognition related activities and the physical work environment. The process of engagement at Coates is an ongoing journey as part of the Coates Way.
Let us briefly examine the drivers that will further improve engagement levels at the company.
Drivers of engagement
Coates, through its benchmarking, has identified the four biggest opportunities to further develop engagement. They are:
- Recognition activities - employees are positively acknowledged for their efforts and performance
- Brand alignment - the image that the company presents to customers should be reflected in the company culture (sometimes called the brand environment). Therefore if Coates is presenting itself to customers as a progressive and growing company that is committed to its customers, the atmosphere when working within the organisation should reflect this
- Valuing people - showing people that their individual efforts are important and are recognised
- Career opportunities - employees can move either horizontally or vertically within Coates.
The surveys also allowed Coates to measure the biggest threats to employee engagement. The management used these results to develop a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. This helps a company decide how to use the strengths and opportunities to offset the weaknesses and threats.
It is possible for the same factors to work for a business as both an opportunity and a threat. Coates identified that the business would be able to increase employee engagement by improving the ability to recognise and reward good performances by employees; however, this opportunity would become a threat to employee engagement if, having promised this, the business failed to deliver. The Coates Way is designed as a progressive and continuing approach to ensure that opportunities are not missed.