Having a workforce of engaged, productive, happy employees is every business owner’s dream. But, it’s not always the reality.
Are you worried about staff turnover and keeping an engaged workforce in your business?
With only 32% of US employees saying they are engaged at work, you are not alone.
Many employers don’t understand employee engagement and as a result, their workforce may not be performing at their best.
So how do you keep your staff motivated and invested in their work?
The first steps are learning about the importance of engaged employees. Then, you can work on developing your own employee engagement strategies.
Read on to find out more.
What is Employee Engagement?
First, don’t confuse employee engagement with employee happiness.
While it is certainly true that an engaged employee is more likely to be a happy one, they’re not the same thing.
It is perfectly possible that a happy employee is not very engaged with the business. They could even be enjoying some of the incentives yo’ve provided to increase employee engagement such as free yoga classes, staff picnics or office games can make them happy but not necessarily engaged.
So what does employee engagement actually mean?
An engaged employee is one who has an emotional investment in the company and wants to succeed for reasons other than a financial reward.
To be even more succinct: An engaged employee cares.
The more engaged an employee is, the more commitment and motivation they have to do their job well. An engaged employee is also far more likely to go above and beyond what is required of them simply because it will be beneficial to the business.
Why Should Businesses Care About Employee Engagement?
If your employees are turning up and getting on with the job, why should you care how engaged they are?
Well, there’s doing the job, and doing the job. The engagement of your staff is an indicator not just of their happiness and satisfaction, but also their productivity.
There are three main reasons why any company should care about employee engagement.
It Makes Your Business More Money
If your employees understand how their role fits in with the wider aims of the company, they are more likely to see the point of it. And if they understand why their role is important, they will understand why doing it well is important.
Engaged employees will work harder, go above and beyond their defined role. This means they will be more productive and create positive outcomes for the business. And a more productive business is a more profitable business.
It Saves You Money
So, how does employee engagement save you money?
If your workforce is not engaged, you will lose money from absenteeism. If your employees are not engaged they’re far more likely to take sick leave or not show up for work and you’ll incur costs for temp staff and lost productivity.
Staff turnover is also an issue in businesses with low levels of engagement. Recruiting new staff always incurs a cost, and the more frequently you have to do it, the more expensive this becomes.
It Creates a Better Working Environment
It might sound obvious, but who would rather work in a room full of engaged people than a room of people who don’t care?
We all have experience of a colleague who didn’t pull their weight on the job. And we can all remember how that created resentment and bad feeling in the workplace.
Engaged employees are far more likely to have a “can-do” mentality, and more likely to help each other out, and find solutions to problems. This is much better for team building and creating a harmonious workplace and a culture of wellbeing.
How Do You Measure Employee Engagement?
We have discussed what employee engagement is and why it is important, so what next?
Before you can improve employee engagement, you have to measure it. But how do you that?
There are a number of methods you can measure the engagement of your employees, but you can’t measure your employees’ engagement without talking to them.
Staff surveys are one of the basic tools for measuring employee engagement.
But, conducting surveys is not just a matter of asking your staff whether they are engaged or not.
If an employer asks their employees “Are you engaged?” they are quite likely to say “yes.” This is because it may feel like a loaded question. They know the response you want to hear, so are more likely to give it.
Employee surveys should be more nuanced and designed to ask your staff a series of questions about how they perceive their job. Your job is to work out their level of engagement based on their answers.
Make sure you survey your staff regularly, and not just annually.
Consider conducting pulse surveys. These are short, frequent surveys that give a snapshot of the well-being and engagement of your employees.
What Do You Ask Them?
What questions should you be asking your employees in staff surveys?
Here are some suggestions:
- Do you know what is expected of you in your role?
- Do your values align with those of the company?
- Would you recommend a friend to work here?
- How would you rate your job satisfaction?
- Do you enjoy coming to work?
- How would you rate your relationship with your manager?
- Do you feel valued at work?
- Do you feel you are adequately rewarded for your work?
There are many more questions you can ask your employees. But the main thing you are trying to ascertain is how invested they are in the business, and how it actually feels to them to be an employee in your business.
Talk to Your Employees in Person
To some extent, the feedback you get from your employees is subjective. One person’s definition of feeling satisfied can be quite different from another’s.
How do you clarify the feedback to some of these questions?
While a written survey will be a very useful way to gather data, there is no substitute for talking to your staff in person.
Holding 1-on-1 chats with employees can give them the opportunity to expand on the questions in the survey. It will also help you hear their perceptions of their own engagement in more detail, so you can analyze where improvements can be made.
Creating Employee Engagement Strategies
Ok, so you’ve thought about what employee engagement means to your business. You have asked your staff about their engagement, and you have received their feedback.
How do you use this information as a springboard for creating employee engagement strategies?
Here are some steps you can take.
Start the Conversation
One of the first things you should do as an employer who has conducted an employee engagement survey is to demonstrate that you are listening.
If your employees have taken the time to give you their feedback if you do nothing with that information it will actually lead to disengagement.
All employees want to feel like they are being listened to, and that some action will be taken as a result. It will increase engagement if your staff see that their opinions will contribute to change.
So once you have gathered the data from your feedback exercises, you can share the results and start the conversation about how things can be improved. You may consider using specialist software to manage the data.
This is the first step in involving your team in the employee engagement program.
Share Good Practice
Staff feedback may vary from team to team.
Sharing good practice across teams is a really helpful way to start to improve employee engagement.
It will feel great for those individuals and teams whose practices are being shared. For the rest of the team, it will feel like a collaborative exercise in improving standards, rather than instructions from the top down.
Making sure you acknowledge good practice in your organization will encourage it to carry on in the future, and for others to emulate it.
Create an Employee-Centered Culture
You can not expect loyalty, passion and drive from your staff if that feels like a one-way street. So let them know that the values of the business are that the employees are the priority.
Creating an employee-centered workplace culture is also about the employees feel that they are listened to and that their input matters.
Involving employees in decisions whenever you can help them to feel closer to the beating heart of the organization. If employees feel that they are on the periphery of the business, they will feel disengaged.
This applies to employees at all levels of the organization from executives to entry level.
There is a story about JFK. When he was taken on a tour of the NASA headquarters, he met a janitor mopping the floor. He inquired about his role at NASA. The janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”
Now that’s an employee-centered culture!
When you’re creating strategies for human resources such as employee engagement programs, it is easy to start referring to your employees as one homogenous group.
But never forget they are all individuals, with different strengths, weaknesses, and needs.
They also have different learning styles and different approaches to working. Rather than trying to make them all fit into standard working practices, allow some flexibility for their diversity.
If you take the time to acknowledge the differences in your employees and let them find the best working practices that suit them, they will feel valued and no doubt more productive.
Give Smart Rewards
Hey, good job!
Er, thanks, but what for?
It’s easy to give praise, and most of us enjoy giving praise. But your praise will sound more sincere if you demonstrate that you have understood what they’ve done and how it will benefit the business.
Praise is as much more about showing your employees you’ve noticed what they’ve done and acknowledged it, as the pat on the back. Why bother going that extra mile if nobody notices?
This is not to say that you shouldn’t give them a well-earned reward. Just explain why.
Any rewards that you do give to your staff should be fair and proportionate to what they have achieved.
Rewards don’t always have to be financial. There are employee recognition schemes that you could use such as an Employee of the Month Award.
Invest In Your Employees
Spending resources on your staff should not just be reward based.
Investing in their training and personal development is a vital part of employee engagement and will benefit them and the business.
Most employees want to improve their performance and advance their careers. Giving them the tools to help them do that will result in them feeling both valued and that the business wants to retain them.
There are so many opportunities you can open up to your employees, including in-house training, sponsored educational courses, and conferences.
As an employer, you can integrate your training interfaces using software, which allows your employees to track their own progress.
You can also start a program of company-wide benefits. This can involve fun things, like company activity challenges and wellness events that will feel like a treat for your employees. You can also use things like charity fundraisers to get staff all pulling together for a really positive cause.
Employee engagement strategies benefit both the employee and employer.
Nobody wants to work in a place where the staff are disengaged and the bosses don’t notice or care. Employee engagement is about making everyone’s working lives meaningful.
An engaged workforce will be more productive and more profitable. You will have a higher rate of staff retention and reduce your recruitment costs.
You will also enhance your brand reputation as a good employer in your industry. Which will pay dividends when you do need to recruit, and help you stand ahead of your competitors.
If you want to find more about software solutions for all business sizes, don’t hesitate to contact us today.