It goes without saying that by creating an engaged workforce leads directly to higher profitability, increased customer satisfaction and reduced turnover, however, the approach some businesses have been taking recently to improve engagement have not always generated the results they may have hoping for. A number of companies spend thousands of pounds every year on engagement initiatives but don’t get the basics right and wonder why their staff still don’t seem happy. Here are 10 simple things that you can do to point you in the right direction of improving engagement within your organisation:
1. “Walk the walk” – Employees need to see management demonstrating the characteristics and behaviours they are expected to display whist in the workplace. In organisation’s where the management team model the desired behaviour, research has shown that employees are more focused and are more likely to stay at that company for a long period of time.
2. Be transparent – Management transparency has a direct correlation with overall employee happiness. Trusting your employees with sensitive information gives them a sense of deeper investment in the company and helps create more of a cooperative team atmosphere. A workplace in which employees have an ‘us vs. them’ perception of the management/employee relationship never works out well. Discuss things with your team, ask for ideas, suggestions, involve them in decision making and ask for feedback on a regular basis.
3. Offer visibility – Firstly, managers should be accessible and visible around the office so that employees see them as approachable and available for help and guidance when required. An open door policy is a great way of letting your employees know that you are there to support them whenever they may need it. Secondly, publicly recognise employees for their contributions and achievements – doing this not only motivates each of those individuals to keep up the hard work but also inspires their colleagues.
4. Say “Thank You” more – It’s such a simple thing but a lot of the time it is overlooked, especially in larger organisations. Acknowledgement from management and among colleagues is the quickest way to build trust, restore relationships and energise the workplace, those two tiny words can work wonders.
5. Be authentic – Companies are made up of people, not products, machines or numbers. Genuine relationships between employees and their superiors inspires trust and builds comradery. In fact, research conducted by Blessings White showed that managers who showed their ‘human side’ were rated much higher by employees than managers who only talk to their teams when there is work to be done. Talk to your staff about their weekend, holiday, children, partners etc. By simply investing 5 minutes on a Monday morning into a conversation with a member of staff you wouldn’t normally talk to could go a very long way.
6. Be flexible – When possible, give employees the freedom to adjust their working patterns or location to better suit their personal needs. Many employers do not trust employees to get work done at home or set their own hours but statistically, workers with flexible hours and locations are actually more productive, happier and more engaged than employees who have a standard 9am-5pm Monday – Friday job.
7. Hire traits and behaviours – Experience and education do not guarantee performance. Even the most skilled candidate with a first class degree will fail if he or she has a bad attitude towards their work. You are better to invest in somebody who has the desired behaviours and personality traits, who will fit in and easily adapt to the culture of your business with less skills and experience, than to hire somebody with a strong CV but a personality that will prevent them from ever becoming engaged in their role.
8. Engage from day one – The best way to engage an employee is to capitalize on their momentum, their enthusiasm and curiosity for their new role and your organisation, on their very first day. Filling out mountains of paperwork and putting them through hours of a health and safety training powerpoint presentation is an excellent way of killing engagement. You should introduce them properly to their co- workers, pair them with a buddy, follow a robust induction program and just do everything you can to acclimate them to the culture of the business by making an excellent first impression.
9. Volunteer together – Companies that support philanthropic causes by involving employees and management in volunteer projects see a direct increase in engagement and productivity. Working together to help others demonstrates that the company isn’t just about making money, but about making a difference.
10. Socialise! – Having fun outside of work not only breaks up the routine but also encourages employees and managers to get to know each other better, without taking time out of their working day. It is important that employees feel they have someone to talk to and if they feel they have built a good relationship with you (even if it was at the Christmas party) they would probably feel more comfortable with confiding in you.
The ‘secret’ to building employee engagement is that there is no secret. Want to know the types of thing that will help your employees feel more engaged? Ask them! You could be surprised at how simple the solution might be. Before you hire a consultant to tell you where you’re going wrong, try talking to your employees; compassion, mutual respect and flexibility doesn’t cost you a penny.