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Employee Engagement Committees: HR's Guide to Getting Started

19 March
by Aley Brown
5 minute read

If you’re a human resources professional in 2019, you are more than likely concerned with having a successful employee engagement strategy.

But what does a successful employee engagement strategy actually mean? And how do you build a successful strategy in the first place?

Well, in this blog, we will dive into one of the most important parts of developing a successful strategy: creating an employee engagement committee.

To do so, we'll go over everything related to employee engagement committees, such as what they are, why they are important, and how to best use them.

But before we do that, let’s get into what employee engagement really means.

What Is Employee Engagement?

While some companies choose to specifically focus on other areas of human resources (such as leadership development, culture, or even performance) other organization create a broader HR strategy focusing on employee engagement as whole. This is because no other areas encompass as many different functions as employee engagement.

Employee Engagement Committees

Employee engagement strategies include leadership development, culture, performance, and many different areas of human resources. So, by focusing on your employee engagement, you actually improve all of these other smaller areas of the HR puzzle.

According to Forbes, employee engagement can be defined as:

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.

This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don't work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization's goals.

When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort.

Now that you have a better understanding of what employee engagement is, let’s get into how to set up a successful employee engagement committee.

Employee Engagement Committees: What Are They?

Employee engagement committees are an important part of the overall employee engagement process and strategy.

They allow people from within your organization who wouldn’t normally have a huge impact on your employee engagement strategy to actually give their thoughts. So, your employee engagement committee shouldn’t have people on it that already have sway in your overall strategy. For example, HR professionals on your team or high level executives.

Your committee should be a decent size, but not so big to where it is overwhelming to manage. We recommend having anywhere from 8-12 people.

Employee Engagement Committees

So, how do you find people to join the committee?

If you already have a pretty engaged culture, it will be easy to get people to sign up. In some instances, you might even have to ask for applications because more people than you previously thought want the chance to impact your corporate culture.

In this situation, send out a company wide email with links to applications. In these applications, ask people what their unique viewpoint would be on the committee and why they think they would be able to be impactful.

If you don’t have a huge outpouring of support, you will need to approach people at your organization to join the employee engagement committee. Ask people who perform well at their jobs, have a voice that is unique and genuine, and who you think would be committed to helping your HR process.

Whether you have to approach people or have over a thousand applications, make sure that your committee has a decent range of leadership levels within the organization. Look for people not only in director and vice president titles, but also assistants and coordinators.

Employee Engagement Committees: Why Are They Important?

Now that you know how to assemble an employee engagement committee, you’re probably asking yourself: why is all of this so important?

Well, employee engagement committees are a way for you to talk with your employees directly. This allows you to pull real insights from them about your company’s culture.

Yes, as an HR professional you can make pretty good assumptions about your workforce’s culture, and surveys can help provide insight as well, but nothing really compares to the hands on touch of an employee engagement committee.

Employee engagement committees can help you find “the why” as well. You might know from your own observations and your culture survey that your employees feel like they can’t talk about their personal lives at work. Or that employees might feel like your company lacks an emphasis on work-life balance.

You can bring these points up to your committee and figure out why people feel this way, and then create strategic plans to address “the why."

Employee Engagement Committees

For example, you might bring up the previous point about how employees feel like they don’t have any work-life balance, and find out that employee’s think this is because of the tone an executive sets about responding to emails until late at night.

That is obviously an oversimplified example, but you see the point of why it is useful to talk to people directly.

Also, it is a known theory that when people feel like they helped make a decision, or that they are a part of something, that they are more likely to accept the outcome. So, by getting members of your workforce onto your employee engagement committee and allowing them to feel ownership of some of the decisions you’re making, you’ll naturally improve the culture.

People love feeling like they have an impact, and when you give that to them, you’ll see morale rise.

And this won’t just happen for the people specifically on the committee. If people outside of the group see representation of themselves on the committee, they will feel like their voice has been heard, and then be more accepting of any changes.

Employee Engagement Committee: How to Get Started

Let's move on to the 'how.'

Once you have formed the committee, there are a few ways to get started. Your HR team can draw up a list of employee engagement concerns that, as a group, you can review.

It’s always beneficial to have hard data, so we recommend having data to review from an employee engagement survey.

From here, your committee should review the survey and pick a handful of 'focus items' that you think the company should improve on. For example, you could pick work/life balance and recognition.

Once you have decided on the issues, allow your employees time to “noodle” on them. Have them go away from the meeting, talk to their peers, and come up with some strategic thoughts around the focus issues.

Employee Engagement Committees

Then have them come back together after a few weeks, present their thoughts, and as a group develop a strategic plan to address the focus issues. From there, you should have the group present the plan to your executive leadership team.

Once buy-in has been established from the executive leadership team, your Human Resources department should lead the charge of setting up the initiatives, but your employee engagement committee should still be involved as ambassadors. They should promote the work that you are doing, and actively provide feedback to your HR team about how things are going.

The Final Say: Employee Engagement Committees

Employee engagement committees, when done correctly, can be extremely valuable tools to an organization. Make sure that you spend time setting your committee up correctly, and you will reap the benefits!

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