Rio Tinto Employee Engagement

Rio Tinto links engagement to business results

Rio Tinto has been conducting surveys of employees for quite some time, initially focusing on gathering input and opinions regarding issues that affect the organization rather than employment. Culturally, there was a sense that the contributions of people impact business performance, but the company’s leadership wanted to make solid connections between employee engagement and performance of the business.

Rio Tinto’s approach to demonstrating that employee engagement is much more than an HR initiative to gauge satisfaction began with the appointment of an advisor on employee engagement. A case study by Towers Watson, Rio Tinto’s partner on the initiative, notes that Rio Tinto already had a broad spectrum of business measures, and rather than adopt standard engagement measures, was eager to establish links between employee engagement and business performance unique to the organization. This was achieved by using linkage analysis to define the engagement measure. Towers Watson and Rio Tinto designed a wider survey than usual to allow a broader field for correlation. The routine employee opinion analysis was completed swiftly, but the linkage analysis demanded more complex and time-consuming statistical modeling. Rio Tinto provided performance data based on safety, production and maintenance measures.

Six survey items emerged that showed strong, consistent links to the performance measures that are most important to Rio Tinto’s plants and mines managers, far more meaningful than a standard conceptual measure of engagement. From this, Rio Tinto had a key performance indicator (KPI) linking engagement to business results. Towers Watson and Rio Tinto analyzed the underlying drivers—identified as leadership, external reputation, and safety practices—to develop action plans for improvements as well as benchmark themselves against similar organizations in Towers Watson’s database.

This is an excerpt from i4cp's report, Employee Engagement Strategies and Practices, available to i4cp members exclusively.