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Thoughts from the author

How to Drive Employee Engagement in a Flat Organization


A recruitment agency on Thursday afternoon is a sight to behold.  The Directors rush in and out from meetings as their Consultant teams hold down the fort, interviewing an unending stream of candidates.  On display is that fundamental recruiting ability of not only focusing on many tasks at once, but leveraging the experience from one placement across a spectrum of company cultures and job requirements. 

After all, when your ‘product’ is people you can never really know it all.  The only way forward in our industry is with your eyes open and your ear to the ground, always ready to seize an opportunity to develop professionally and grow your network.  As I write this, looking out at my office hard at work on another Thursday afternoon, I see the very definition of an engaged workforce.

Yet according to AON Hewitt’s 2012 Trends in Global Engagement report, a must read for managers everywhere, my staff should be indistinguishable from the office flora, because...

“For the fourth consecutive year—globally, as well as across all regions—career opportunities has remained the top driver to positively impact overall engagement levels.” –AON Hewitt

However, recruitment companies are by their very nature flat structures.  Career opportunities, in the typical sense of new titles and more subordinates, are few and far between.  It is entirely possible that you could spend a lifetime in recruiting and only be promoted three times. 

So why all the activity at Staffwell?

Career opportunities do drive employee engagement, but only because promotions traditionally lead to more Ownership over one’s work and greater input into the company’s Purpose.  As the saying goes, do not miss the forest through the trees.  A company that provides employees with real control over the way they do their work, and a purpose worth working towards, even when it cannot regularly promote its people, will still have an engaged workforce. 

This is why upper management is regularly the most engaged segment in the workforce, even though they are the least frequently promoted.  Case and point, I’ve had the same position at Staffwell for 13 years, and I consider myself highly engaged! 

What employee engagement really comes down to is a culture of empowerment built around a purpose people care about achieving.  In the recruitment industry, our purpose is to be the grease that keeps the gears of expanding companies turning, with relevant and timely placements.  Our teams are empowered because at the end of the day it’s just the recruiter and the client in a room, with little more than a contract between them and the future of the agency, the client company and the candidate’s career hanging in the balance.  Talk about purpose and ownership!

How are you empowering employees at your company?  What purpose are you trying to achieve?

Not sure?  Email me.  I am happy to help you find out!

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