Recently, I was invited by SilkRoad to present a webinar to HR managers about driving employee engagement strategies, an increasingly pertinent topic in my line of work as a change andtransformation specialist. Employee engagement might seem like a simple enough theory, but it’s amazing how different the perception of staff engagement can be among employees, management and again in the HR department.

My presentation certainly sparked some interesting perspectives from webinar participants. Some feedback also highlighted that there can be a wide range of views from amongst HR and management on potential approaches to engaging employees.

In 2013, we are seeing employee engagement move well beyond its traditional roots to involve stages of communication that start well before a person becomes an employee of a company.

A person’s perception about the HR environment of a prospective workplace begins long before they actually start working there. One of my key messages during the presentation focused around the need to think about engagement as early as the recruitment process.

A recent research poll by Gallup found that more than 80 per cent of Australian employees feel disengaged at work, with more than 20 per cent being actively disengaged. The poll estimated that disengagement costs Australian organisations at least $33.5 Billion a year in lost productivity! This figure is astounding, considering engagement can be easily amplified by ensuring your workplace engagement strategy can be built around three simple pillars.

Leadership

Leadership is the secret sauce of effective employee engagement – it’s not rocket science! We know that leaders are responsible for creating and sustaining a culture of empowerment and trust. Leaders must lead by example, exemplifying the values and behaviours that will sustain and engaging culture.

A great leader instills a sense of authority in their people to take (measured) risks, to be creative and to make a personal contribution to the cause.

Alignment

If we presume our leaders are capable and effective, the next key driver is alignment. Unless we can harness the collective contributions of employees towards a common goal, efforts will be unproductive.

True alignment is based on employees understanding exactly what an organisation does and the direction of the company. It connects corporate values to brand and reputation.

Connectedness

No, I’m not referring to connectivity…. Connectedness implies that people don’t just ‘get along’, they feel a genuine and authentic sense of being connected to one another and with their team.

Fostering connectedness is the glue that binds all other engagement-related initiatives in your organisation.

You can have great leaders and a strong alignment to a common goal; but without a truly connected workforce – who posses genuine care for one another, their customers and suppliers – you’re missing a big opportunity.