I wish I could say that people are always asking me why employee engagement is so important. But actually, it’s not a commonly asked question, which seems crazy because I genuinely believe a well engaged group of employees should form the cornerstone of every business. And that’s true whatever sector you operate in.
Here at Verve we help organisations (both large and small) with strategy development, crisis management and reputation building, change management, communications and engagement. Guiding our clients through structural transformations, we know that those who make a genuine and focused attempt to foster the understanding of their workforce are much more likely to succeed, whatever their business.
Here’s my top five tips for excellent employee engagement
1. Make your company values clear, live them and lead from the front
We like people, we work a lot with the public sector, charities and the NHS because we like helping people who change lives. We believe in putting others first and going the extra mile and we look for clients that share the same values and a sense of social responsibility.
2. Invite and respond to employee feedback
The benefits here are endless. Employees feel so much more valued if they feel that their opinions on the direction of a business are valued. This kind of input also helps to identify challenges and opportunities that you might never spot. The people that deal with the nuts and bolts of your business while your management team are busy “blue sky thinking” have an invaluable perspective. Inviting feedback is also a great way to gauge employee engagement. If your staff are taking the time to think about solutions or ways to drive the business it shows how much they care. If you don’t act on what they say, explain why.
3. Set out career paths and growth opportunities
Nothing makes someone start looking at that green, green grass out the window like the feeling that their career is stagnating. Making your employees feel they are working towards a personal goal helps them feel invested in the future. It is also an opportunity for you to plan for succession, to bridge skill gaps and ensure the company runs smoothly when one of your established team members decides to move on or retire.
4. Put your people at the heart of the culture
I have touched on this, but it is worth repeating. Putting your team at the centre of your business is key to building and developing a positive workplace culture, as well as a successful business. Encourage a creative and collaborative atmosphere, a space where people want to come to work. It should be somewhere they feel safe and secure (I have a lot to say on safe and positive working environments, but we will save that for another time!). Understand the individual needs of each employee; can someone work better from home some days, or do people need to flex their hours around other personal commitments? In an age of mobile and remote working practices being able to bend a little will often yield higher levels of productivity in your staff. And you’ll keep your team happy.
5. Make it an on-going process
This isn’t an overnight fix. You can’t just have “Funny Hat Day” next Friday and think all is well. I am talking about cultural change, top down, bottom up and at every level. I mean it when I say “put people at the heart of everything you do”. Stop and think about how decisions will impact on your staff, on morale, don’t risk them leaving you for a funky start-up which offers cats, bean bags and ping pong tables. Work should be a serious business but it should also be fun sometimes. Find a balance that works for you; but keep it in mind, an engaged workforce will lead to engaged clients/customers which will have a positive effect on the brand you are trying to build.
And for a quick fix: Buying ice cream when the city sizzles goes a long way too!