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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 10, Issue 3
Engagement continues to be an important consideration from a HR perspective and is the theme of this issue of Strategic HR Review. The difficult economic climate and accompany restructuring and resizing has brought it even further to the fore as companies try to maintain and increase engagement throughout these difficult processes. The authors in this issue look at organizations that are successfully achieving this balance and put forward some innovative engagement strategies.
“The new rules of engagement: treating your workforce as a workforce of one”, by David Smith and Susan M. Cantrell, highlights a new approach to engagement that is helping organizations that master it gain competitive advantage. The “workforce of one” approach moves away from centralization and one-size-fits-all and is all about the individual and customized work practices. The organizational challenges of individual customization within a corporate environment, coupled with the imperative to equally meet the strategic needs of the organization, make it difficult to implement this approach on a scalable level, but those organizations that manage it are benefiting. The case organization discussed by the authors, electronics giant Best Buy, has achieved improvements in engagement levels and, as a result, significant financial efficiencies, due to its workforce of one approach. To help other organizations, the authors have put forward four approaches that can be adapted and combined according to company size, culture, values, etc., in order to tailor people practices to the individuals in the organization in a practical and manageable way.
Peter Baynham discusses engagement in the context of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in his paper, “Engagement in M&A deals: a best practice guide”. It is based on the premise that successful cultural integration in an M&A transaction is largely about driving the behaviors that ultimately drive engagement. Maximizing engagement means understanding cultural differences and similarities, and identifying how to align those cultures and ways of working with a way forward that will drive optimal business results in the newly merged environment. The author puts forward four core elements to successful cultural integration in M&As, which are shared best practices resulting from interviews with HR leaders addressing this area. Each best practice is linked with practical examples to assist with implementation, resulting in a highly practical paper that should be of interest to anyone involved in M&A activity.
Bernard Kunerth and Richard Mosley’s paper, “Applying employer brand management to employee engagement”, looks at the extent to which employer brand management is being used internally as a support to building employee engagement, as well as externally as a recruitment and talent acquisition tool. The authors see a trend towards a more integrated internal/external approach, evidenced through recent research. They focus on the activities of a major European soft drinks company that not only made a strategic decision to create a single employee value proposition (EVP) to use across internal and external communications, but also decided to do this on an international group-wide scale. This was achieved through a detailed development process involving stakeholders from across the group and resulted in an umbrella theme supported by four employer brand promises – two based on current strengths and two based on aspirations in order to drive improvement. The following focus on aligning the employment experience with the EVP resulted in improvements in the attraction, engagement and retention of key talent.
In “Employee engagement at Norfolk County Council”, Anne Gibson explains how the council has built on already strong engagement levels during a time of change by taking a collective approach to engagement. Employee engagement is kept at the forefront of change activities, and employee involvement is key throughout, with important data gained through employee surveys and focus groups. Employee-defined values and new initiatives are developed in direct feedback to employees’ comments, giving them reassurance that their views are of value to the organization and will be acted on and building trust. The council is now faced with even more turbulence involving redundancies, cutbacks and restructuring and is continuing to invest in its engagement programs to maintain service levels while cutting the cost of delivery. Set against a backdrop of major change and rationalization in the UK public sector, and within a unionized environment, the council continues to apply its employee-centric approach and is keeping engagement levels high against the odds.
Sara NolanE-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org