As many of you know, I have been something of a skeptic of the so-called “engagement movement”. Lets face it, the idea of being engaged at work is clearly a socially desirable outcome. Engaged people are thought to work longer, harder and smarter, giving what HR people call “discretionary effort” or what I call the “extra 10%”. The problem of disengagement at work is also a growing problem as evidenced by a Gallup survey:
- A recent research study found 71% of employees were disengaged to some degree.
- The lost productivity of actively disengaged employees costs the US economy $370 Billion annually.
- Engaged employees advocate their company or organisation to others– 67% against only 3% of the disengaged.
My skepticism with the engagement movement is simply that they want to spend more time talking and researching the topic than doing anything about it. Hard pressed leaders do not wish to wait 20 years for a white paper to explore the longitudinal correlations between factors. They want to find good quality, pragmatic approaches that will give them advantages in the short term.
So, it was with some pleasure that I found an approach to engagement that actually seems to make a difference to actual engagement levels at work via a Linkedin contact in Sweden. Arnaud Henneville runs a company called Challengera that focuses on meaningful employee participation and involvement at work. I interviewed him to find out more.
Tell me about your company and what’s unique about it?
Challengera is an engagement company. We provide a cloud-based social platform for Enterprise 2.0. In other words, we support companies of all shape and size in engaging their employees to any initiative – from highly strategic to campaign based and tactical. This could include the launch of a new company direction through to a short term campaign to achieve a specific result e.g. To get employees behind a cause.
What does it do for the hard pressed HR Director? And the person who has to watch the engagement dashboard? And, most importantly the staff?
Employee engagement is a hot topic and it’s no wonder when, as you say, 71% of employees globally are not fully engaged in their work. Running campaigns with Challengera secures high engagement as have shown our past roll-outs with companies like global Fortune 20 company General Electric. HR leaders and CEO’s can relax and witness the ESAT and CSAT (employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction indices) going up! And that’s precisely why it works so well; because employees get pulled-in into the experience (one that is interesting, inviting, that builds on human hard wired traits for achievement, self-actualization, fun and competition) as opposed to being pushed messages (emails or PowerPoint).
For me, this is a simple truth, that participation and involvement breed commitment. So tell me, how does it work? Can you give me an example of a company who have used it? What has come from their use of your approach?
It’s best for me to let a customer talk:
“Our project was clear in DGS, a Global BU of GE Healthcare: Engage our 1600+ employees on our culture, Put our values into practice… with concrete examples given by our employees across the world, Link our people together, Share best practices, Engage discussions around our values & Recognize best practices. We were looking for an Impactful, Powerful & Business-connected tool: Challengera answered our request; a customized social platform for us to engage people around our BU. This is a great success & our people love it: this is new, different and engaging. Thanks to the team for this great success
Catherine B., Engagement Leader at GE Healthcare DGS
Another example is from a world leading industrial group. Key to the group’s profits is its inventory turnover. The group recently announced its decision to use Challengera to engage its workforce on the importance of stock-management, not by talking about it but by inviting employees to actively contribute to reduce it. The Inventory challenge will launch in a few months.
Give me one reason why it’s better than running a focus group, doing a motivational Powerpoint talk or a conventional employee engagement campaign?
Life – business included – is about doing, about moving forward and inspiring others to move forward! Whilst this is obvious, to engage folks around a particular topic and having them do something (for real) is becoming in the 21st century organization, harder and harder. There are many reasons for that and just to name a few (not in order of importance); the economy and the delayering consequences it has had for organizations, change of demographics (GenYers), flatter-matrix-and virtual organizations, the knowledge worker, etc. What’s more, very few companies have managed to bring-inside the company the tools that are (successfully) used by people outside e.g. social/connectivity/effectiveness tools. That’s what we have done: built a social enterprise platform that builds on both macro-tends and what we know of human behaviors.
Now, in practice: the tool allows a leader to ‘challenge’ (the challenge is the vehicle for engagement) his/her organization to X or Y. At first, it is top-down but as it takes off the initiative gets momentum and grows organically as the viral effects kick-in.
Can it be fitted into conventional face to face strategies? For example, if I were running an innovation event for a major company, how would your approach integrate?
Last May we ran a campaign for the Absolut Company. While 300 staff attended a yearly conference on the topic of CSR/sustainability, we used mobile devices to challenge people on different aspects of the topics covered during the conference. It was a great success – not only because attendees got intrigued, but also because the animal spirit kicked-in. People were willing to engage in this live challenge and consequently in the topics themselves… We continue to bring value post event as the platform remains open thus allowing people to go back and review relevant content.
So, it extends the life of a conference by putting in a follow up aspect?
Very much so. It therefore increases the return on investment for a company event or annual conference.
I dislike plug ins for the common ‘diseases’ that organisations face. How does your approach stand up to the need to customise and internalise things so that they feel part of the company culture?
We offer the platform with two ‘levels’ of customizations.
The 1st one is ‘Branded’, namely we turn the whole solution into a client-product: the solution looks, feels and breathes X or Y company. Whilst the solution is in the cloud, we connect from any client website, intranet, or Learning Management System.
The 2nd level is ‘Customised‘ and builds on the 1st one . A client wants special features and we develop and integrate them to the solution.
How do people begin with a challenge?
We typically invite new clients to try with an initiative before we start integrating the tool in the client-ecosystem. We offer consultancy if a client wants help in identifying an internal challenge before turning it into a product. If the challenge is clear (which is often the case) it takes a few calls before our teams ‘box-it’. 3-4 weeks of customization/integration later, the challenge can launch!
You can get in touch with Arnaud at firstname.lastname@example.org or +46 700 40 52 25. He has offered a 10% reduction in the price to readers of this blog. Simply quote The Academy of Rock when contacting him.