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Strategies to Improve Employee Engagement in Shared Services

Having a talented and engaged workforce is one of the critical success factors in creating and operating a successful Shared Services operation.  While there is an abundance of real-life examples of companies that operate Shared Services at a sub-par performance level due to a disengaged team of employees, most savvy leaders realize that such an environment will be dysfunctional at best, with more damaging outcomes increasingly likely the longer employee engagement remains low.

Recently, a Peeriosity member company shared on a PeercastTM the results of a project to have a more focused and sustainable approach to driving employee engagement in Shared Services.  Some of the subjects covered included running employee focus groups, administering employee surveys, and creating a playbook to define the process, roles, and responsibilities to ensure the long-term integration of improvements in this area.

In 2013, this Shared Services operation participated in a company-wide engagement survey administered by a major HR consulting firm and determined that their organization had moderate employee engagement as compared to other Fortune 500 companies.  Not considering being mediocre in this area as acceptable results, they formed a project team to determine what was the cause of this less-than-stellar performance and to develop some action plans to improve.  This project was executed using Six Sigma tools and methodology and included personnel at five satellite Shared Services sites.

One key aspect of this project was the use of focus groups to perform a root cause analysis of the underlying issues with the employee base.   Administered by Shared Services HR business partners and a project manager at all Shared Services sites, the discussion started with the question, “Why does Shared Services have moderate employee engagement?”  This was then followed with the use of Employee Idea Generation and Idea Prioritization tools to drill down further into the issues, including the use of the “5 Why Method”.

In addition, an internal Shared Services survey was developed with open-ended questions intended to generate anonymous feedback and suggestions for improving employee engagement.  The survey results were then analyzed for common themes and prioritized in Pareto charts, with the survey comments compared with feedback from the focus groups to develop final action plans.

Some of the lessons learned as a result of this project included the following:  

  • Focus groups, surveys, and action planning should follow an annual engagement calendar
  • Hold leadership accountable
  • Leaders should review action plans on a regularly scheduled basis throughout the year
  • Key deliverables should be included in annual performance plans for supervisors and above
  • Focus groups and internal surveys should be facilitated by HR
  • Problem and solution summaries should be owned by each site leader
  • Shared Services supervisors, managers, and directors should execute engagement action plans

In conjunction with this PeercastTM, a poll was developed using Peeriosity’s iPollingTM technology that looked at employee engagement and satisfaction in Shared Services.  The first poll question addressed the general level of engagement and satisfaction among Shared Services staff members. 

Looking at the results, 56% of the companies indicated that their Shared Services team was either “Extremely Engaged” (15%) or “Highly Engaged” (41%), with another 41% responding that their team is “Moderately Engaged”.  Just 3% said they had “Limited or No Engagement”.  These results are certainly encouraging for the majority of Shared Services operations, with some improvement opportunities almost always available regardless of their level of success to date.

ipolling characterization of the general level of engagement and satisfaction Improving Employee Engagement

The second iPollingTM question then addressed the level of importance and focus placed by Shared Services senior management on employee engagement and satisfaction.  As would be expected, and hoped for, 89% either considered it “Very Important” (61%) or “Important” (28%).

level of importance does the senior management place Improving Employee Engagement ipolling peeriosity

Some of the member comments associated with this poll include the following:

Manufacturing Member: Staff engagement and satisfaction vary widely across the SSC.

Software & Internet Member: We are actively working to improve engagement, but with limited funding and bandwidth.

Manufacturing Member: We have just begun a regular survey to measure and act on employee engagement.

Real Estate & Construction Member: We have regular pulse surveys and we have been going through some changes which always have an impact. We have a number of initiatives in place to re-engage those who have become disengaged.

Consumer Products & Services Member: Our Shared Services Department’s most recent engagement score was higher than the company average.

Manufacturing Member: The team just set up a regular survey to measure employee engagement since it is so very important.

How engaged is your Shared Services team?  How is the engagement level measured and what are you doing to improve your overall performance in this key area?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.

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