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Why its time to take employee engagement seriously …

Why its time to take employee engagement seriously …

An important part of our work is in conducting an holistic landscape review discovery process for new clients. This is where we evaluate not just application performance but also consider the technology in the context of that organisation’s culture, people and processes.

After all, you can have the most sophisticated ERP on earth, but if your people find it hard to use – or simply don’t feel sufficiently valued by the organisation – it isn’t going to help you much.

So the result of our landscape review process often talks as much about the need to engage employees as it does about the need for ERP optimisation.

Obviously, in the context of an holistic landscape review, our clients tend to take on board any thoughts we have with regard to how to achieve buy in from employees.

However, I’m constantly surprised to speak to people outside of our client base who tend to regard the whole notion of employee engagement as being a bit too woolly, wimpy and ‘touchy feely’ for them to get involved with.

Actually, the word isn’t surprised, it’s ‘astonished’, simply because I know of so many cases where even a few simple steps towards engaging and involving employees have brought such significant results.

Michelin. Where Men Are Men, And Everyone Loves Doritos.

When considering this topic, I usually cast my mind back to a presentation (as well as an inspiring interview) I saw John Reid, MD of the Michelin Dundee tyre plant, give at last year’s National Manufacturing Debate hosted by Cranfield University.

The fact is, however, for those of you who don’t have twenty minutes and forty three seconds to spend watching the video (though I thoroughly recommend that you do), that he puts most of his success in turning the factory around down to: “Getting (staff) on board, talking to them, presenting a vision that appealed to them and stirred their emotions.”

He didn’t stop there though; in addition to investing 6% of business hours in staff training and development, he also made sure there were a lot of “daft things going on.” Things like giving the best worker over the last 24 hours a box of Heroes and making them Hero of the Day, letting the entire workforce stop to watch World Cup matches with a beer and a pack of Doritos, and even getting ice cream vans onto the site on the hottest days of the year. Or, to put it in the estimable Mr. Reid’s own words: “Saying thank you.”

If this is still sounding too touchy feely for you, I should perhaps point out that, as a result of this initiative, employee engagement went up from 58% to 82% in the space of two years, and the factory’s KPIs took it from 15th out of 15 European Michelin factories straight into the top four.

Acknowledging People as Human Beings

Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, we all have a basic human need to be taken notice of on some level, and to feel that we are valued. So we believe that employee engagement isn’t just an ‘add-on’ to getting your ERP working better, it’s one of the cornerstones of a successful and efficient business.

In fact, because your ERP is one of the primary ways in which employees interact with your business, delivered and managed in the right way, it should help improve their working lives.

Say, for instance, that some of your processes involve repetitive and time-consuming manual data entry. That alone could be adversely affecting the job satisfaction felt by your people; yet it’s something that might be easy to fix by putting an automated process in place. This would, in turn, lead to increased organisational efficiency, while sending out a clear message that your people are important enough to be listened to and looked after.

The truth is that there are many factors that can adversely affect employee engagement, and we believe that the only way to identify and solve them is to conduct a holistic landscape review that treats employee engagement with the same importance it attaches to ERP application performance.

Doritos and beer may not necessary figure in our recommendations, of course, but you never know, we may one day get to suggest them to a client. I can only live in hope.

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