As it appeared in the Daily Nation on November 7th, 2017
Employee involvement or engagement is key to business success. This is because employees are at the center of everything that happens in organizations. It is employees that help businesses meet their set objectives. Employees especially those in the frontline often know what is going on well and what is dragging their businesses backwards. The direct participation of all employees in an organization allows them an opportunity to apply their skills in decision making, in problem solving and in moving their organizations forward. Without employees, organizations would not function and without their involvement organizations move at a slower pace.
Employee involvement should happen throughout the life of business, not only when there are burning issues to sort out but also when business is running smoothly. I have witnessed organizations where staff are involved and organizations where staff are ignored. The difference in such organizations is evident. Study after study have also shown that organizations that involve employees perform much better. The key questions are – Are we involving our employees? Are we involving them in decision-making? Are we involving them in how they get their work done? Are we involving them in planning? Are we involving them in setting performance targets? Are we involving them in corporate social responsibility? Are we asking them to make suggestions for continuous improvement? Jeff Immelt former CEO and chairperson of General Electric is quoted as saying that as a leader, one has to constantly connect with employees. By involving staff, they feel more important.
In many organizations, lack of involvement is seen when initiatives fail. Change initiatives especially fail because employee are not party to what is going on in their organizations, they feel left in the dark. When organizations are going through a major change, it is important to involve all the employees and especially those to be affected. By involving employees before, during and after a major change process, trust is built, employee resistance reduced, commitment improved and employee morale is not negatively affected. When employees are not involved, resistance and sabotage becomes the order of the day.
One of the most effective ways to involve employees is to have them as part of all the strategic efforts. Employees can be involved through surveys and feedback sessions. The leadership need to listen more to what employees are saying and take action. Employees can also be involved by seeking their input in decision making, by requesting for their creative ideas and their suggestions for improvement. In strategic positioning and customer experience efforts that I have lead, involvement of employees on an ongoing basis has yielded good results. Involving employees is widely seen to improve staff motivation, collaboration within departments and across departments, overall innovation as well as staff productivity.
Is your organization is hoping to survive into the future? Employees need to be fully involved especially in decisions that will affect them. If you have not been involving your employees, consider doing so. Employees who are genuinely involved often give their very best!
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy