Is power sharing the key to engagement?
Nick Clegg’s call for a John Lewis economy where employees are offered company shares seems to have been greeted with a mixed response particularly with regards to the tax and legislative issues it raises.
However, if we park this side of the argument for a moment, what Clegg has actually suggested highlights the many potential benefits that can come with a sense of shared ownership within the workplace.
If employees have some involvement in the business decision making process or simply the day to day operations of the organisation they work for, then they are likely to feel more valued, productive, accountable and as a result - engaged.
As simple as it sounds, how many businesses have fully explored devolving elements of their decision making to employees, giving them the chance to influence decisions which will ultimately affect them?
We don’t need to be talking about top-level financial decisions either - it might be inputting to the company’s new advertising campaign, deciding on a new approach to customer relations or feeding into a review of internal processes.
Of course, if employees are told they need to work hard then most will do it without question. But if organisations want to promote retention, good cultural values and performance, then they need to move away from a total top down structure where employees are told and not involved.
Businesses spend billions trying to engage with their customer base, so why wouldn’t they take some relatively simple steps to do the same with their employees?
Whether this John Lewis model gains any traction from the wider business world is yet to be seen. But by working to build a cohesive workplace where all employees play some part in taking their business forward, we might just get one step closer to cracking that buzzword of the last five years: engagement.