Bitcoins to Bollywood – how to build an engaged workforce

January 18, 2019 Stella O'neill

With a new year upon us, it’s time to start plotting out our engagement strategy for 2019. We can look back and smile at all the learning and all the fun we had in 2018 and can only hope to top that this year! At Cornerstone, we place a lot of emphasis on engaging, aligning and developing our employees in order to not only make this a great place to work but to help each individual reach their potential.

So, what is a great engagement strategy? And doesn’t it cost a lot of money? For us, engagement is about providing people with development opportunities, creating inter-departmental and cross-functional understanding and facilitating internal networking. And of course, fun! As for the cost, well, that’s up to you. Sure, we’ve had some fantastic parties and great days out, but it doesn’t have to cost much if you don’t have a budget.

We focus on 4 main strands in our engagement strategy: quarterly activities and Company Events (such as Beach Day, Anniversary), Cultural Celebrations, Wellbeing and Development Days.

Activities can be as simple as a picnic in a park with a few games or a pub trivia quiz; the trick is to find out what employees would enjoy. Planning for the EMEA region, we have found that what our teams in Germany and the Nordics want, for example, is rather different from the UK teams. Consider how you are going to find out what kind of activities will motivate participation – a survey, an events committee or even informal chats can all be informative.

Cultural celebrations are about appreciating that we are a global company and recognising and learning about the various national, religious and traditional occasions that our global colleagues celebrate. Who wouldn’t appreciate an Indian feast for Diwali or pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? The important thing is, now people are gaining an understanding of the background and meaning of those events and understanding cultural differences.

Wellbeing we have talked about in a recent blog so we won’t repeat ourselves…. and that leaves Development Days, perhaps one of the most significant cultural traditions at Cornerstone (and 100% cost-free!!). Every quarter Cornerstone hosts Development Days across the globe. This day of learning is run by Cornerstars, for Cornerstars. The entire day is set aside for professional and personal development, as well as everything in between. In 2018, Cornerstars delivered 184 learning sessions globally to their peers. With time zones, you could literally learn for a solid 24 hours if inclined!

So, who runs the sessions and what are they about? First of all, anybody with a special skill, expertise or interest is welcome to host a session; pretty much everybody has something they can share. As for the topics -this is where the diversity of our employees comes into play – last year, they ranged from Productivity to Videography, from Bitcoins to Bollywood Dancing! Negotiation, Big Data, Hebrew Language, PowerPoint, Flight Simulation, VR, Jewellery-making and Networking all made it to Development Day schedules. We also have a regular ‘Coffee with Cornerstars’ session, an ongoing feature created to drive internal mobility and offer transparency around opportunities for career growth here at Cornerstone. Every session features a Cornerstar who has excelled in the company. They are asked about their individual career path, what’s made them successful, specifics about their department, and recommendations on how one develops oneself to transition to their team.

That’s it – our 4 strands. Whether you have a budget or not, there are plenty of things you can do to engage your employees and make them feel appreciated and valued. Just put aside some time for planning and you can make 2019 the year you really strengthen your company culture and motivate your workforce!

About the Author

Stella O'neill

Stella O’Neill is a Talent Specialist dedicated to making an impact on employee experience through inquiry, innovation and a high standard of customer service. Stella is passionate about harnessing the best from digital & social learning and has wide experience of project management in the L&D space, learning strategies, employee engagement and digital initiatives.

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