8 Employee Engagement ideas that really work

Before I joined Surveylab, I was responsible for delivering Service Excellence at Eaga PLC. This is how I first came to know Surveylab (from 2004 they helped me collect, report and understand the feedback from both Eaga’s customers and employees). The surveys were invaluable, helping us to identify and track what was working and where we were seeing issues, and I thought I would share some of the other ways we took the employee feedback to build a fantastic culture with engaged employees at Eaga.

The following didn’t happen overnight. First, I needed to sell the business case for Employee Engagement to our Finance Director. I want to make good my earlier promise to continue my story of what happens when Finance and HR meet and share some of the things we put in place that built our culture.

These were simple things, and some were very effective.

  1. 3 Little Things
    Staff would ‘pop in’ to a monthly lunchtime session to share thoughts and ideas on the small things that make a difference. Then, all staff voted on the 3 ideas they liked the best and we would implement the changes, involve staff in the process and keep everyone informed.
  2. ‘MAD Ideas’
    This branded scheme captured peoples’ ideas or suggestions to Make a Difference (MAD Ideas) and add value to the business. The scheme was managed by our central Continuous Improvement Team who would evaluate which ideas to take forward. The submitter got involved in the planning and implementation, driving ownership throughout the business. Our staff helped us to save money, time or improved our working environment and were rewarded for their contributions.
  3. Innovation Sessions
    We regularly invited 12-16 people from a business area to an ‘innovation session’. We would ask the question

    What stops you doing the very best job you can?

    These sessions identified real improvement as well as involved people in decisions affecting their day-to-day work. One example was increased efficiencies that led to being able to deliver more home assessments per day which made this activity profitable for the first time.
  4. Post Installation Courtesy Call
    Another activity that came out of the innovation sessions were the introduction of PIC Calls (Post Installation Courtesy Call). Here, customers were contacted within 3 days of works being completed.

    This new innovation helped to reduce complaints by 30% and reduce Eaga’s costs by 60% in the first year.

    By looking after our customers and identifying issues early meant complaints didn’t escalate or become more costly. And our customers were increasingly satisfied (>90% satisfaction).
  5. Seek Permission to Say No
    We introduced a philosophy – “seek permission to say no”. Every employee was encouraged to make their own decisions in their day-to-day job and try the things they knew intuitively to be a better outcome for the customer or the Business. Spending time developing our people to make decisions put the customer at the heart of our business.
  6. Awards
    One particular award that stood out for me was when we launched an internal Annual Customer Focus Improvement Award for the most innovative and impactful improvement. This promoted the value of team work and we had great fun celebrating achievements. They don’t have to be on a grand scale, the point was to help motivate and inspire each other.
  7. Measuring Success
    Our employee survey allowed us to analyse the engaged teams and correlate these with levels of customer satisfaction and complaints. Tracking provided the evidence on what was working (as well as incentive) and clearly showed engaged teams had higher levels of satisfied customers and less complaints.
  8. Sharing the news
    Through our company magazine we shared the success stories, celebrated our staff who would inspire others to promote our culture and values. As Eaga grew from a few hundred staff to a few thousand, company-wide communications were essential in keeping people informed, and helping to reinforce the culture that we wanted to work in.

Not everything we did was a success at Eaga but we did create a culture of openness, employee involvement and participation. People had a meaningful say in how their business was run and on the things that impacted on their day-to-day work. People would say the organisation felt more like ‘a bunch of friends’ or a family. Our work become more than just a job, it became a lifestyle.


Annette Rowe at SurveylabAnnette has more than 25 years experience designing and delivering improvement strategies for service excellence.

Want to know more? Contact Annette here or connect on LinkedIn.