Committees give employees a chance to lead, contribute, effect change, and make an impact beyond revenue.
It’s a well proven fact that engaged employees make a positive difference on a firm’s success. Engaged employees have a positive impact on recruitment and retention, productivity, and client relations, as well as both a firm’s financial and cultural wellbeing. While it’s clear that engagement is important, there isn’t a clear path to engaged employees. A lot of firms mistake fun or socializing with engagement and are then mystified when employees leave or underperform. While building strong relationships between employees is important, the fact of the matter is no amount of pizza parties or happy hours can replace true engagement.
True engagement comes when employees feel their contributions and ideas are meaningful, respected, and rewarded. It comes when employees feel that their voices are heard and that they can effect change. There are lots of ways to achieve this and any good engagement plan will utilize a variety of strategies.
At BL Companies, we’ve found one of the most effective ways to build engagement is through a robust committee program, and if we look at the definition of true engagement above, it’s easy to see why. Committees give employees a chance to lead, to contribute, and to effect change, and they provide an opportunity to share ideas, get creative, and make a tangible impact on your business beyond revenue.
For a committee program to be successful for engagement, however, it needs to have certain features in place:
- Committees need structure. Which committees make sense for your firm? How will committees operate? At BL, we have more than 10 committees ranging from culture-focused committees like the Giving Back Committee, to technical-focused committees like the Safety Committee, to benefit-focused committees like the 401(k) Committee. There is a clear process for joining and participating in committees as well as revolving off committees. These rules make it easy for new employees to get involved and start making an impact.
- Committees need to matter. This is two-fold: Committees need to be appreciated and have a tangible impact on your firm, and they also need to have a tangible impact on your employees. Employees won’t be engaged if committees are just a mouthpiece for senior leadership, with no real influence. Likewise, employees won’t be engaged if their efforts are unappreciated or unrewarded. BL gives our committees a lot of freedom and we get better, more innovative ideas as a result. We make sure to document the impact of our committees, including an end-of-year report which details each committee’s goals, achievements, and members. But most importantly, we value and reward committee involvement. Development plans and performance reviews can include committee contributions, and our employees are paid for time dedicated to committee work. While not required of all employees, committees are treated as one of the ways an employee can go above and beyond at BL and involvement is appreciated by senior leadership for their role in completing important work that may not get accomplished otherwise.
- Committees should be a unique opportunity for growth. They should give employees the chance to try something new or out of their comfort zone. They should provide an opportunity for more junior employees to develop leadership skills, no matter their level of experience. They should connect employees of all disciplines, offices, and levels. And ultimately, committees should enhance an employee’s work experience.
Committees are just one way we’ve increased engagement at BL, and they remain a highly effective tool for creating engaged employees. More than 35 percent of employees currently serve on at least one committee, and the impact our committee members make is meaningful, tangible, and appreciated. Their ideas are respected, and their voice is heard. And most importantly, committee efforts are rewarding both personally and professionally. Overall, committees should be an enriching experience, and if you design your own committee program well, they will foster a culture of true engagement.
Julia DeFrances is a marketing coordinator at BL Companies, Inc. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.