11 October 2011

Employee engagement has currency as a measure of organisational effectiveness. For several years, the State Services Commissioner has encouraged agencies to survey employees to establish a benchmark and periodically evaluate how improvements are being effected.  The Gallup Q12 is the SSC-favoured tool.

But if tools like the Q12 are a reliable indicator of employee engagement, then few agencies are achieving their objectives.  Scores are not improving.  A number of agencies have published their employee engagement “scores” in annual reports. Will embarrassing results mean this openness does not continue in reports to be Tabled over the next few weeks?

Employee engagement is a product of US business management, and a Q12 question about “having a best friend at work” is a particularly “American” characteristic.  Research by Kruse and Karsan suggests “a fairly straightforward conclusion: the three drivers of employee engagement are growth, recognition, and trust (neatly acronymized as GReaT, or just GR8 for short)…..

  • growth can come from advancing up the ranks of a company, but more important is the sense that you’re growing as an individual; you are learning new things…
  • recognition …  it’s more about feeling appreciated on a daily basis. It means you are being thanked, and that your ideas count….
  • trust …works on two levels. We need to believe that our leaders are honest and ethical, but also we need to trust that they’ll get us to a better place in the future. It’s about knowing what the future vision is and trusting that our leaders are going to successfully guide us there….”

Perhaps a focus on these GReaT elements , which can be more readily and cheaply measured, might give a more realistic assessment of what is “going on” across State sector agencies?  “Growth, recognition and trust” could be a mantra to accompany that of the  principles of public service – of being “fair, impartial, responsible and trustworthy”.