When all is said and done, business is about engaging people. Whether we are thinking in terms of products, services, recruitment or systems and processes, human beings are at the centre of everything we feel, think and do in life and work. To deny this is almost insanity. So, from the perspective of employee engagement it's particularly important to understand what it means to be a human 'being' rather than just a human 'doing' at work.
But where to start?.
Well, a good place might be to acknowledge that we human beings are natural imitators and research has revealed that we are easily influenced by the behaviours of those around us. Behaviour can be very contagious, particularly when there are emotions involved. We at 4D Human Being understand that this natural fact is worth considering in terms of any organisation wishing to increase employee engagement.
A growing body of credible research has revealed that behavior and attitude can become contagious and is spread by people modeling the behaviours of key influencers in an organisation. In fact, it can be spread by a small number of people with higher degrees of influence, both hierarchical and social, through the networks that commonly emerge in the workplace.
The HR Director for Organisational Effectiveness at RSA invited Tom Bruno Magdich of 4D Human Being for a meeting to talk about how we might partner and work together to create a programme to support their initiatives for increasing engagement and innovation in order to drive organisational growth at RSA.
The aim was to drive positive, contagious behaviour across different levels within RSA by a team of trained facilitators to encourage communication and idea sharing. Not only would the facilitators run high energy, interactive workshops for employees on ‘Increasing your Personal Impact’ but they would also model these behaviours in their day to day interactions with others.
RSA is one of the world’s leading multinational insurance groups. The company employs around 23,000 people, serving 17 million customers in around 140 countries. RSA is a global company that delivers strong, profitable performance, even in the most challenging market conditions. In 2011, for example, their net written premiums were £8.1bn. From 1 January 2012, the business was restructured into four regions; Scandinavia, Canada, UK and Western Europe, which includes Ireland and Italy and Emerging Markets, which remains unchanged. They operate in seven countries across Asia and the Middle East and Royal Sundaram, their associate in India, is the 4th fastest growing private insurer.
RSA is full of enthusiastic people who are fired up about doing their very best. It’s the company's ambition for everyone who works at RSA to feel like this, every day.
Any company could say this, of course. But RSA are genuinely committed to building a world-class workplace that really sets them apart. Rather than the hierarchical, formal culture you might experience at other large companies, they have an open-minded, collaborative ethos. They look for people who ask questions and you’ll always find someone willing to help you find the answers you need.
Every year, RSA ask all their UK employees to tell them how they feel about working there. This feedback is taken very seriously, and is shared across the business, from the Executive Team right down to local business level. Every leader uses it to agree on improvements they will make with their team.
In Canada RSA is the third largest general insurer and largest marine insurer. Under the RSA brand, they sell home, motor and commercial insurance through more than 800 brokers. Like the rest of the organisation, employee engagement is very important for RSA Canada, and this is where our innovative story takes place.
Exploring innovative ways to increase employee engagement is an ongoing commitment at RSA, so when an opportunity emerged in Canada to develop and try out a new engagement initiative, the leaders listened and then quickly provided support and resources. Once they were comfortable the idea was in alignment with the organisations goals and objectives, the wheels were set in motion and there were no obstacles put in the way. Preparation is the best host for opportunity and the team were well prepared.
Due to the open and flexible attitude of the leaders and the spirit of trust in supporting 'Bright Ideas' at RSA, the arrangements for delivering the first training sessions in Canada happened quickly.
15 people were identified from a population of 200 as candidates for the programme.The training ran over three days and introduced the participants to the 4D Human Being methodology, tools and techniques which included:
- Exploring the ‘Two aspects of Energy’ that are the life force of engagement in an organisation (Quantity - levels of energy and Quality - attitude and emotion). How these aspects impact on day to day experience from 4 perspectives.
- The Four Dimensions of human Being - Physical, Emotional, Intellectual and Intentional (Motivation & drives).
- The ‘Engagement Status Scale’ A set of behavioural techniques for managing and generating personal energy. Calibrating energy levels to elicit positive and confident physical and psychological states to create rapport and engagement.
- Emotional Intelligence - Understanding the emotional contagion of networks.
- Facilitation and communication skills.
- Workshop design
Following the training the new facilitators designed and delivered their own 90 minute engagement workshops throughout the organisation to groups of bewteen 10 and 20 people at a team.
The newly trained facilitators delivered18 sessions across Canada attended by 262 leaders.
Following the sessions, feedback was gathered in the form of a survey.
96% of survey respondents either agreed or strongly agreed to the statement ‘’I will use the information I have learned in this program in my role’’
87% of survey respondents either agreed or strongly agreed to the statement ‘’I believe the information I have learned will improve my effectiveness and results’’
97% of survey respondents ranked the training session as either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’.
Comments from participants that attended the facilitated sessions included:
“I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to partake in the workshop. It is fun, engaging and will help in the enrichment of our everyday lives and activities.”
“This was a good reminder of how our energy can affect others, and the importance of having a good balance.”
“I felt the seminar was interesting, engaging and easy to relate to. The interactive activities certainly engaged everyone and made me more aware of my own energy levels and the positive impact it has on the team.”
Most importantly the 'Gallup' measures following the programme revealed a significant improvement in engagement scores.
This initiative was just one of many of RSA's strategies for engaging their employees. However, this one was unusual. So, the key to the success of this initiative was a high level of trust on behalf of the leaders and senior teams.
Talking to executives about 'personal energy' and the dimensions of human being is not generally thought of as an easy sell. These subjects are often thought of as too 'soft and fluffy' to make a real difference in the hard world of business that requires measurable and tangible results, statistics and ROI. However, at RSA the leaders responsible for providing support and resources for this 'Bright Idea' by the UK HR director were open and flexible enough to grant autonomy to the team who were implementing the programme and it continues to pay off today as engagement remians high in these difficult and challenging times.