by Alex Palmer | January 13, 2017
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a non-governmental organization which develops voluntary standards for a wide range of industries, may soon be setting standards for engagement. The global body, which counts 163 national standardization organizations as its members, voted on Dec. 29 to approve the proposal to create engagement standards.

The proposal, drafted by the Enterprise Engagement Alliance and submitted last year to the U.S. Technical Advisory Group, states: "Based on extensive research and information already in the public domain, this initiative seeks to create a set of standards which can be used as a model for organizations to formally integrate current practices for engagement, such as leadership development, employee and engagement assessment, recruitment, learning, communications, rewards and recognition, return on investment measures, etc., along with analytics, into a set of practices to achieve measurable goals and insights."

The vote to approve the proposal will lead to the creation of a working group that will begin drafting these standards. The group will be formally established at the ISO meeting in Bali in September 2017. 

If enacted, the voluntary standards would give management a framework to follow in its efforts to connect with workers, customers, and investors. Across the world, more than 1 million organizations are ISO certified and follow its designated standards.

"All ISO standards are voluntary," emphasized Bruce Bolger, founder of the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, which drafted the proposal. He added that these standards would lead to "better returns for shareholders and a better experience for employees, customers, and everyone who touches an organization."

Bolger said that the vote and subsequent standards, should they be enacted, shows that engagement is more than "a marketing buzzword" and instead is a substantial, strategic approach to doing business that can provide financial benefits to organizations across the globe, both private and public, for-profit and not-for-profit. 

"This move by the international body makes it likely that there will be formal standards related to the implementation of engagement, since the international body has now voted to create a working group," said Lee S. Webster, director of employee relations at the University of Texas Medical Branch, and the administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group 260. "This process almost always results in the creation of formal standards."