Top Tips on Improving Employee Engagement
What is “Employee Engagement”, why should you care and what can you do about it?
Well, a recent Government research paper looked at companies who had increased employee engagement and they showed a whooping 19.2% increase in their operating income in a 12 month period. Now, how else are you going to increase your profits in such a short period of time without being an oil or energy company?
The research also showed that companies which actively motivate their employees experience a twice as high customer satisfaction and productivity and significantly lower staff turnover than those who don’t. And, when it’s estimated that staff turnover costs businesses at least the cost of that lost employee’s annual salary once you’ve taken into account lost productivity, recruitment costs and management time; it really is worth spending time engaging your employees.
So, keeping that in mind, what exactly am I talking about when I say Employee Engagement?
Well, I’m talking about three fundamental things:
- Employee Attitude – this is when employees show pride and loyalty to their employer
- Employee Behaviour – this is when employees are great advocates of their employer and go the extra mile to get things done; they really buy into what your business stands for
- Employee Outcomes – increased productivity, fewer conflicts and greater innovation
The wonderful thing is that each one of these triggers and reinforces the other – creating a wonderful virtuous circle – if you get it right!
So, how do you get it right? Well from the years I’ve been working with businesses there are a few key things that make the difference.
Tip Number 1 – Lead by example
If you are a leader in your business then that is what you must do: lead. I’ve seen many businesses with glossy brochures saying that their values are openness, honesty and integrity and the senior management flagrantly ignore those values. Leaders must be believed and trusted to deliver. So if you are going to impose exacting standards on your employees; be sure that you live up to them too.
If you don’t lead by example, then none of the rest of this article will work so you can stop reading here.
Tip Number 2 – Clear Communication
As a leader you need to be clear about the purpose and direction of your business. This obviously has to be communicated to your employees. But that’s not the end of it. Communication is a two-way street. You must be willing to listen to your employees and have conversations with them, otherwise you’re going to have apathetic employees.
Tip Number 3 – Empower your employees
How do you get over employee apathy? By empowering them. I doubt many (if any) businesses out there have decided to employ someone just to provide that person with an income. If I’m right, then this means everyone in your business has a purpose. How many of your employees know that? Do they know where they fit in to the bigger machine and why what they do matters?
It’s only when they understand this, that employees can start to make suggestions for improvement and change. And if you’ve been following Tip 2 by telling them what your business is seeking to achieve, their suggestions should be aligned to this.
The more you allow employees to question why things are done in a certain way and give them power to improve things the closer you will get to an engaged workforce.
Tip Number 4 – Improve Skills and Ability
Invest in your employees. Demonstrate that you value them as individuals and that you are willing to invest in them for the longer term. By having conversations (Tip 2) you will know their strengths and weaknesses and be able to help them improve.
If you have a culture where showing any sign of weakness is seen as the first step to the exit door; you are never going to have engaged employees.
Tip Number 5 – Reward
The old adage, “don’t clap, throw money” – that works for some but not all; some employees simply want recognition, a promotion or different type of reward. Where I’ve seen this work well is when employees were rewarded with something that was tailored to them. For example, tickets to their favourite sports events or, my personal favourite, a spa day. Give them a day off, not as holiday but as a thank you and don’t forget that thank you for a job well done goes a long way to improve performance.
Focus on your employees, understand the costs of not doing so and celebrate the results once you have.