A common topic of conversations with HR Leaders recently at Tap’d is around employee engagement. Often, we start talking around other challenges, such as feedback, leadership development or internal comms and the conversation will broaden into the engagement landscape. This usually then results in an all-encompassing wide conversation and it can become difficult to determine the next actions that need to be taken or the way forward as the issue is so large.

I have been reflecting on this and have found that using the terms of “Macro” and “Micro” Engagement within the working environment has helped clarify thinking. So, what do I mean by these terms?

To me, there are areas where HR has a number of “levers” that they have control over which can be grouped into these two terms of Macro and Micro Engagement.

“Macro Engagement” is like your “stall” you are pitching out to candidates and employees. It is a combination of Candidate Attraction, Employer Brand, your Values, “How we do things around here” and the benefits and differentiators of working for your organisation. It is what you want external people to see to attract them towards becoming candidates for recruitment. It is the substance that makes an employee happy to work for you and be happy to talk about working for your company when out with friends outside of the workplace.

“Micro Engagement” is that employee feeling that the organisation knows me as an individual and treats me how I want to be treated. It is that relationship between the line manager and the employee. It is high levels of emotional intelligence amongst its leadership and employees. It is the feeling that my direct team appreciates both me and my output.

We often hear that people do not leave companies, they leave managers. A poor manager can be quite destructive to the psychological contract (micro engagement) but the pride in working for the larger organisation is also a glue that motivates people to stay (macro engagement), adding to their pot of “goodwill”.

Creating a strategy of macro engagement alongside a strategy of micro engagement with commonality of core message between the two is a great way of stopping the business from focusing too much in one area and not the other. I have seen organisations throw loads of money at Employer Brand and macro engagement while at the same time cutting back on management development programmes where the techniques of micro engagement are fostered.

The majority of research into productivity, the “Holy Grail” for the HR Leader, tells us that the two largest people activities for increasing productivity is engagement through commitment to the brand and great leadership of teams and individuals. Therefore, building strategies of macro and micro engagement can lead to some amazing value-add results.

So, what are the questions that HR Leaders could ask to discover the “levers” they can use to develop both Macro and Micro Engagement?

Macro Engagement:

  • Amplify the effort and messaging around what your people find the most positive aspects of working for your organisation that differentiate from other companies in your sector, location, etc.
  • Research how your people best like to be communicated with and in what way
  • How do you capture the sentiment within the organisation? Is this fit for purpose and/or how do your people think this is going? Use survey results wisely as they are a great source of knowledge.
  • Assess all the benefits that your employees get by thinking as broadly as possible. What works and what doesn’t work? What is valued by your people the most?
  • Ask your successful and non-successful candidates what their perception of working for your organisation is. IS this what you wanted them to hear when you built your Employer Brand?
  • Take control of your culture and your people’s identity. Tell your “story” to be fresh in the mind and don’t let hearsay become your organisation’s identity.

Micro Engagement:

  • How do you develop the level of Emotional Intelligence of the layers of managers and leaders in your business? How do you ensure there is a feedback loop to check that this is working?
  • What measurements do you have in place that links leadership quality to performance metrics, recognition and reward?
  • How do you develop high performing teams within your business? Where are teams performing greatly? How do you discover this and how can you replicate this across your organisation?
  • How do you ensure that your Macro Engagement message is repackaged into a format which is easily and wantonly communicated by your managers directly to your team.

Working on both sets of questions above will maximise your chances of developing a well-rounded employee commitment, employee experience and candidate attraction strategy.