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Employee Engagement using Human-Centered Design Methods

Hello everyone! This is my first post for MTC Consulting and I want to launch this effort by highlighting an issue of which I am an advocate, employee engagement. 

According to Gallup, a global analytics and advice firm, both 2019 and 2020 employee engagement statistics indicate that 13% of U.S. employees are actively engaged at work. 

Dale Carnegie, an industry-leading organization in professional training and development, revealed in its studies, that 70% of high-level senior leaders believe that employee engagement has a strong impact on financial performance; however, only 31% of the 1800 leaders surveyed strongly agreed that their organization is actually making engagement a top priority. 

In fact, McKinsey & Co., a people and performance improvement company, recently shared in a July 2022 article that 40% of employees plan to leave their jobs in the near future. 

How does that impact your organization? The financial stain could be detrimental. A HubSpot report found that lost productivity costs U.S. businesses a shocking $1.8 trillion dollars every year. Additionally, the loss of knowledge and the cost of onboarding new talent can cause substantial losses in productivity and employee morale. 

Organizations may feel inclined to improve employee morale but how can this shift happen in the most effective way, without losing sight of the quality product or service your organization provides? 

Treat your employees like your shareholders, board members, or customers. 

Like your shareholders, board members and customers, your employees hold value and contribute to your organizational success. Organizations who truly care for external parties that contribute to organizational success often adopt human-centered design methods. This method is based on the notion that things are created with the user in mind. Dr. Prabhjot Singh, Director of Systems Design at the Earth Institute, said that “We spend a lot of time designing the bridge, but not enough time thinking about the people who are crossing it.”

Adopting this human-centered design method in creating a culture founded on employee engagement is key to effective change. 

Human-centered design is based on three elements: empathy, creativity, and business needs. There are four phases involved in implementing this method, which includes: inspiration, ideation, implementation, and validation.

Here are some steps to take to ensure that your employee engagement activities are making an impact, and are not just a check in the box:

Step 1: Ask (inspiration) 

In the MovingWorlds Institute, human-centered design is defined as a mindset that starts with the belief that the solution(s) exist with the people experiencing the issue. 

It could all be so simple, if you simply ask. Your employees know what they need in order to feel valued. Anonymous surveys, one on one discussions, group meetings, performance discussions - use various methods to capture all engagement styles. Some people may feel comfortable sharing their insight verbally, while others opt to remain anonymous. Meet them where they are, and simply ask. 

Once you ask, be sure to follow through on your commitment to place those requests into action, such as creating an action plan or response forum where all ideas are heard and incorporated. Employees will feel value in seeing those requests and ideas manifest. Let your team inspire your next move. 

Step 2: Listen (ideation) 

Once you develop an action plan based on employee feedback, the follow-through is important. In order to develop an effective plan, create a team of individuals to analyze the feedback, dissect the information, and create a workable plan for implementation. Be sure to include your leaders and employees in this group to ensure a proper balance of ideas and creativity from those who can implement and those who understand the issue. Use this group to follow-up on requests that are misunderstood or incomplete. Following up on those items allows your employees to provide clarity into their requests. 

Step 3: Enforce (implementation) 

An action plan should be carried out to ensure follow-through. Ideas for implementation may include providing competitive salary packages, dedicating time to team building, offering paid mental health days, offering professional development, or remote work. There is no formula that fits all organizations, because each situation is unique to the employees and the business structure. 

The solutions are out there and are less costly than losing employees. Other non expensive solutions may include having employees participate in strategic decision making or finding meaningful work for employees to increase intrinsic value and spark creativity. The feedback from employees should map your path toward success. 

Step 4: Follow-up (validation) 

After implementation, it’s important to measure success. Survey employee satisfaction before and after implementation to gauge effectiveness. If there are no improvements, start at Step 1. In fact, your organization should start at Step 1 on a cyclical basis in order to engage employees as needs evolve. 

Develop your leaders to support the new culture in your organization, through training and enforcement. 

Employee engagement is key to organizational success. 

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