People engagement is important to your business
People management is not the basis of all business activity, but it is the basis of all management activity.
Business activity is focused on specific functions like marketing and finance. However, management activity is focused primarily on people management. It is about organising effort efficiently and productively so that both the people and the business succeed.
People engagement is the bedrock of people management. People who are engaged feel emotionally attached to their work, colleagues and the organisation; they feel valued and that their values are shared, they are free to be creative and make mistakes and are open to change.
Internal people engagement
People engagement is normally left to the HR department. So what is HR? A basic definition of Human Resources might be given thus:
- Ensuring adequate staffing, levels, structure and pay to meet the needs of the business
- Ensuring performance both in terms of compliance and effort
- Administering the needs of these people with regard to payroll, records, etc
- Managing any change required in the business
However, a more sophisticated and enlightened HR department might want to do more. It might want to overlay these basic functions with with a closer look at the individuals that make up the workforce.
Broadly, this can be termed ’employee engagement’.
Employee engagement seeks to address individual human needs like welfare, social integration, fulfilment, morale, skill deployment, creativity, feedback, emotional responses, aspirations and so on.
Thus HR is now focusing on people, not purely as a resource, but as individuals with a unique set of needs and value. It is an approach for which I prefer the term Human Relationships. The letters are the same, but the meaning vastly different.
People engagement in the wider community
But people engagement is not just concerned with the people within the business. Customers, suppliers and the wider community are people too.
We are often attracted to people like us. This is true of business as it is of our personal lives. We want our customers and suppliers to share our values and ethos. Clients and suppliers can often become friends and friends can often become clients and suppliers.
These are communities of people that we deal with regularly and often work hard to maintain the best relationships. But these are both very visible communities. What about invisible communities.
Your supplier has suppliers; your clients have clients. Is the vision followed and shared all the way through the chain? It is no good taking an ethical stance, for example, only to find one of your supply chains ends in using cheap labour half way across the world or does not use sustainable resources.
Closer to home, your business might have an impact on the local community. You might create traffic or waste or pollution that affects local residents. And where do you get your staff from? How do you engage with that community?
People are engage with our business whether we realise or not. Far better to be part of that engagement and reap the rewards.