Low employee engagement can be a real problem for organisations, damaging their productivity, decreasing overall performance, lowering the well-being of their workforce and reducing profitability.
As a business owner, it’s clear to see the advantages of implementing an employee engagement strategy. However, if you need any more incentive, other benefits include an increase in positive attitude and behaviours, lower sick leave, reduced accident rates and less conflict/grievances. Employees also tend to be more innovative and have higher levels of pride and loyalty in their work meaning that they are more willing to go the extra mile.
However, it’s not all about the employer! Employees also benefit from increased motivation and feeling more energised, leading to a more creative approach to their work. This partly comes from understanding their role in the organisation, knowing what they are doing each day and, having a clear knowledge of how their contribution impacts on the success of the business.
With so many advantages to employee engagement, it’s interesting to note that in September, the engagement software provider Achievers reported the results of a survey which found that a staggering 40% of employees felt that their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic went unrecognised (this rose to 48% in industries such as retail).
Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, traditional strategies for increasing employee engagement included the development of collaborative office cultures, looking at work-life balance factors and offering luxury perks such as gym memberships for health and well-being. But with many employees still working remotely and others back in the workplace but restricted in their usual down-time activities, it’s clear that different approaches need to be considered.
We’ve therefore put together 5 strategies for you to consider in your business.
Developing good internal communication
Regularly sharing information about the overall health of the organisation, current challenges and big achievements will help your workforce to understand the bigger picture and business direction. Employees can then begin to recognise the impact of their contribution, leading to better collaboration between departments and increased colleague connections.
Face to face briefings are a great way for this type of communication to take place as it’s easier for individuals to gain further clarification through questions. However, company intranets, posters and email newsletters also work well.
Whilst the recent increase in remote working has created additional communication challenges, software such as Zoom, Slack and MS Teams can all help. Line managers also have an important role to play in ensuring remote workers are kept regularly updated and involved.
Demonstrating a clearly defined purpose and vision
Employees will find it easier to buy into your strategy and business direction if you share clearly defined purpose, vision and values with them. Your senior management team then need to live and breathe these on a daily basis, keeping promises and acting consistently.
If your vision and values were established a long time ago, it’s worth checking which are still valid and what might need changing. Once done, create HR policies to support them and align employee reward/recognition to the corporate vision via your appraisal system.
Empowering your staff
Micromanagement can threaten employee engagement as staff become worn down with constant correction and negative feedback which diminishes their enthusiasm and creativity. The net effect is often a poor organisational culture which impacts on recruitment and retention.
By getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of their teams, your managers can instead set clear expectations, delegate authority and allow employees an element of autonomy. This in turn empowers individuals and creates a relationship of trust and support. Considering the individual aspirations of your staff and encouraging them to develop new skills can also lead to improved employee performance and organisational flexibility.
Recognising the importance of employee wellbeing
Balancing employee engagement and well-being is a fine line. High engagement with a low emphasis on well-being can lead to burnout, whereas high wellbeing with a low emphasis on engagement can mean you have satisfied employees who are disconnected from the organisation’s goals.
Before Covid-19, remote or home working was often seen as the ultimate perk for a good work-life balance. However, 6 months on and many have found that the novelty has worn off and struggle to juggle a busy home environment with their work.
One answer may be to promote a better awareness of mental health, physical health, nutrition and exercise in your business, but the overall culture has a bigger impact than you might expect. If it’s normal to work long hours, manage high workloads, continue working when sick and use holidays to catch up on overdue work in the drive to demonstrate commitment, then you could find higher incidences of burnout and dissatisfaction.
A better strategy may be to look at how the job can be done flexibly (especially in Covid-19 times) and to set a culture which supports the premise that your employees are expected to have a life outside of work. Your management team will need to demonstrate their support of this culture through their actions and have empathy with their teams.
Check out our recent post on Maintaining Employee Wellbeing >>> here
Thanking your staff
Giving your employees regular and constructive feedback can help them stay focused on the business goals and keep their motivation levels high. However, if you forget to thank them for their efforts or recognise their achievements, you could end up with huge levels of dissatisfaction and lower levels of engagement within your team.
Much of this is about the organisational culture and a thank you could be as simple as managers giving 1:1 praise for a job well done, or a group communication which highlights a particular achievement. If you want to introduce a more formal recognition system, take a look at incentive-based schemes or giving awards based on hitting goals.
Implementing an employee engagement strategy will help to create the conditions where everyone is committed to the success of the business and your employees are supported in an environment where they are able to give their best.
Getting feedback from your staff is important in any strategy as it can help to identify sources of dissatisfaction and give you things to work on which you know will make a difference to the well-being and fulfilment of your employees.