From surveys to a holistic experience: how do you find ways to boost engagement?

Michelle Clark

Michelle Clark, Head of Employee Experience at Govia Thameslink Railway gives insight on how to understand your people and what engagement really means for individuals. Michelle is speaking at the CIPD Employee Engagement Conference and Workshop which takes place on 30-31 January 2020 in London. Book your ticket today.




The business case for engagement is now well-established and is accepted as the right thing to do in most organisations. However, if we are honest we need to ask ourselves a simple question – do we really know what we mean by engagement? Which then leads on to the next natural question – how can we be sure we are investing in the right initiatives and practices that can boost it?

Engagement is one of those ‘HR-ey’ concepts that has become part of our everyday business language but is it really understood, even within the HR community? Our workplaces tend to be organised and steeped in traditional compliance-based practices which do not lend themselves well to the needs of everyday modern life. To change this and therefore appeal to engagement we need to consider the whole system. Which means it’s not just about running a survey (although this is an important part of engagement) it means looking at engagement and the workplace through a human lens. Bringing the human into workplace practice and enabling an organisational connection with the individual human being. 

When you start to think about your people as unique individuals, all with their own thoughts, feelings and emotions as well as motivations you realise that there is no one size fits all to engagement. People are complex and the best advice I ever received was to go where the energy is, this comes back again to knowing your humans.   

To help you understand your humans and find new ways to boost engagement here is a simple framework with some key elements to focus on:

  1. Think people strategy think HUMAN…. Place your people wholly at the centre. This gives you that all important lens to look at your organisation and system and will shape the organisational psychology of thinking about people at your work  
  2. Getting the BASICS right – have a vision and clear direction and find out how your people want to be communicated with; ensure people have the right skills and abilities to deliver their roles and responsibilities; the right tools and equipment that fosters a pleasant working environment and maintain transparent and inclusive processes and procedures
  3. Inspiring LEADERSHIP – visible and approachable leaders with the right skills to coach, inspire and motivate; are committed to and take pride in building trust and effective working relationships; communicate clearly and nurture opportunities for people to grow, progress and develop
  4. Feeling VALUED – people feeling recognised and rewarded can grow and develop; a priority placed on individual well-being and being included, knowing that differences are cherished
  5. Having a VOICE – feedback is encouraged and ensures that people are informed and consulted; generating and protecting voice to drive empowerment; clear understanding on the importance of individual roles and how they positively contribute to the success of an organisation

This framework provides a simple way of looking at the whole employee experience through a human lens.  And in doing so you can focus on a range of initiatives and practice that appeals to all people in different ways, connecting the organisation to the human and boosting engagement.



Michelle is speaking in the panel discussion titled “From surveys to a holistic experience: how do you find new ways to boost engagement?” at the CIPD Employee Engagement Conference and Workshop which takes place on 30-31 January 2020 in London. Book your ticket today.