Employee Engagement: A Case Study

In this article, we share a case study about an organization that dramatically improved its employee engagement scores related to performance management.  The organization received feedback that high performance was not sufficiently differentiated and acknowledged in the organization, and rewards were not well aligned with performance.

First, the management team analyzed the problem. While annual performance ratings did differentiate performance and led to differences in performance bonuses, this was not an open process. People only saw their own results, and the high performers didn’t realize they were getting greater rewards. Further, the bonuses only came once a year.

In addition, the managers realized that they needed to target employee engagement in a way that appealed more to millennials, which made up a large part of the workforce. This called for a more real-time process, where employees were publicly praised and quickly rewarded for both small and large successes.

To act on these insights, here’s a look at the management team’s next steps:

  • Share the Results: The management team openly shared the survey results, analysis and proposed goals. The team then engaged in an interactive working session in a staff meeting to develop a specific action plan.
  • Engage the Team: The outcome of the staff discussion was the chartering of a short-term awards task force, which was asked to develop a proposal for a new awards program for the organization.  The task force was small, but represented different parts and levels of the organization. The management team gave the task force core parameters to make sure their outcomes were aligned with the larger organization’s award policies.
  • Guide and Train the Team: The management team saw that the standing up of the task force also provided an opportunity to develop other skills needed in the organization: team facilitation, project management and presentation skills. A facilitator from the management team guided the team’s process to teach them these skills in real time and ensure an outcome, while allowing the actual content to be theirs.     
  • Create Feedback Opportunities: Part of the task force’s job was to present their proposals to the management team and the broader organization. This gave task force members a chance to practice presentation skills and provided valuable practical feedback.
  • Focus on Implementation and Institutionalization: Once the task force was done, the management team invested effort to roll-out and then institutionalize the new awards program. The program included many different awards strategies, including peer recognition, spot awards and an Employee of the Quarter award.

Three years later, the awards program is still active and working well. Scores related to performance management shot up by 20% in just one year, and the organization has applied the same change management model in other areas as well.  It’s a great reminder that true engagement happens one project at a time!