Engaging and keeping your employees engaged in their job is the keystone to a successful hiring and staff retention strategy in any business. The happier your employees are the more effective and efficient they will be. The more enthusiasm those employees have for their job, the harder they will work and the more motivated an employee, the greater the commitment they will demonstrate to you and your organisation.
Employee engagement has been an on and off trend since the beginning of the last century with Fredrick Winslow Taylor or maybe you remember Maslow and his hierarchy of needs? We now have a plethora of online tools, suppliers and models which claim to measure and improve employee engagement in the modern world. However, getting it right is a highly complex issue and will inevitably involve a combination of things. But where can the smaller organisations start? How can your line managers ensure that their staff are engaged in your business? How can the SME compete to reduce staff turnover and create happy, motivated and efficient teams in today’s competitive business environment?
Below we have listed 10 great common sense approaches that can improve staff engagement in your business.
Being thanked and praised for hard work is important to employees. Many employee engagement surveys are revealing that mental and emotional rewards are increasingly more valued than monetary rewards. Ways of doing this are regular appraisals (perhaps every 6 months), the employee of the month schemes or just a ‘thank you’ email when it is due. Some companies have taken this approach visually with walls of fame and images on their intranet whilst others have gone public and posted their appreciations on a company Facebook page and even videos on YouTube. Think creative, think big but think culture and individuals!
2. Work: life balance
A good work: life balance is also important. Last year the government introduced a new law whereby all employees are entitled to the right to request flexible working. It appears that organisations which offer a flexible scheme are popular among its workforce because they cater for an individual’s other commitments such as family life. Flexi-work is a key HR trend at the moment as employers compete for harder to find talent in an ageing demographic. This is something that most employers will probably need to adapt to and something we will be writing about in the coming weeks.
3. Job content
People who enjoy the content of their work are much more engaged employees. If they are engaged with their role and see the outcomes of their hard work as being substantive they feel rewarded in that. Most disengaged employees do not see their role as being challenging or fulfilling and result in a ‘why bother’ attitude. Consider your current team; do your employees take pride in their output? Do they know how they fit into the bigger picture? What satisfaction do they get from achieving targets/aims at the end of the day? What can you do to improve this for your team members?
While appreciation and social recognition are scientifically proven to be of more value to most employees than financial rewards, it is still a prominent incentive to work and to work hard. We appreciate that you cannot just give everyone a super pay rise tomorrow, but you could consider annual salary reviews linked to performance or a bonus scheme for an achievement of targets. Smaller incentives like weekly competitions to win retail vouchers or a day off work well, or what about a “lunch on us” approach if the team pulls together and exceeds expectations? There are lots of low cost but highly significant ideas that can create an immediate “feel good factor” and a healthy mental attitude within your team.
5. Learning and development
Personal development is a huge motivator, especially for generation Y. Providing opportunities for further training or industry-relevant qualifications are great incentives for employees looking to progress their career with you. You don’t need a massive training budget to show that you are keen to invest in your staff. There are lots online resources, free or low-cost webinars and government-funded training schemes.
6. Good relations with colleagues
Working relations are a huge contribution to employee engagement as these are the people you spend a good 8 hours a day with, 5 days a week. Social acceptance is one of the most important elements to create that happy person. Create a great team ethic and focus on creating a great collaborative environment. Make sure any team issues are dealt with quickly; why not look at ways to bring the team together outside of work (or even close the business for ½ a day) too? There are hundreds of team building activities around the country, we love this free team building activities directory. Something like this a couple of times a year may help you create that extra dimension your team needs.
7. Relations with supervisors
Not only are good working relations representative of your company culture, but you will find your workforce much more cooperative if the management structure is stable, cohesive and driven to achieve transparent goals. Consider if you or your management team commands the required level of respect from its workforce. Do the attitudes and the behaviours of your senior staff fit with your company culture? What communication styles are most prevalent from the top down? How are criticism and praise being received and what impact is this having on your staff morale?
8. Company values
Company values include things like: how well you look after your employees, your customers, your suppliers and how much you care about and believe in the product/service you provide. An engaged employee will feel empowered and motivated to deliver and exceed expectations to these values. Communicating and driving these values through your team will help keep the individuals focused, part of the bigger picture and proud to be involved. Ensure you have clear company values, the team understand what you mean by them and then monitor the impact these are having on your business. A good way of monitoring the success of these values is by conducting satisfaction surveys, both internally and externally. Requesting feedback and open comments will also help you identify the areas you are doing well at and the areas that need improving.
People want to know that they are working for a fair, honest and respectful organisation. Employees are very sensitive to how fairly they believe they are being treated and how this is compared to others. They want to be treated fairly and they want you to treat others fairly too.
For more reading around fairness as a motivator check out John Stacey Adams - Equity Theory. We can hinder the trust and equity every day in how we conduct our behaviour towards our team but by being aware, by having strong equality and diversity policies that are culture-centric and by checking that the individuals feel fairly treated, you will go some way to ensuring that no one is seen to be missing out or being segregated.
Security can come in two forms: contractually and within the company. Employers abusing contracts has been widely discussed in HR in recent years, particularly in terms of zero hour contracts where the employer doesn’t have to guarantee a minimum number of hours. This puts people at a disadvantage as they are not guaranteed work, not entitled to any benefits or holidays and are often not permitted to work elsewhere even though there may not be work for them at the current hiring company.
Another security issue for employees is company stability both in terms of financial stability and their position within the marketplace. People like to be assured that the company they are working for can afford to pay their suppliers and staff and that they aren’t working in a declining industry. Updates about the company direction including your goals and objectives will reassure people about the security of your organisation and their position within it.
We have tried to keep the above simple and attainable and hopefully included lots of useful tips, ideas and questions to ask yourself and your management team. We hope this article has given you some ideas about how you can improve your employee engagement and thus retain a happy, hard-working and successful team.
There are plenty of articles and research material available, however, if you want to know more about great employee engagement and how you can improve it in your business, we can recommend a number of HR partners who specialise in people & company culture. Please watch this space for related blogs in the coming months too which will include ‘how to benchmark your current engagement’, ‘flexible working’ and ‘how to engage with Generation Y’. Remember, you can quickly subscribe to articles like this by email ‘subscribe’ to today.
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