I want to start this article by talking about the benefits of employee engagement so that it’s clear why it is important to both big and small companies alike.
There are many benefits from having engaged teams but here are the 7 most important in my opinion.
Increased Staff Retention
With the war for talent on the rise, the last thing you need to be doing is losing the staff that you have. Not only is it cost to recruit new replacement staff, the churn can impact the efficiency of your organization, and it can take a while to find good replacements.
When people are engaged,they work faster, harder and longer because they interested and committed to what they do, and according to Gartner that increase in productivity is around 17%.
Positively impacting the bottom line is important, and engaged employees lead to 21% higher profitability for organizations who are in the top quartile of engagement compared with those in the bottom according to Gallup research.
Better Company Reputation
When you staff are engaged and enjoying what they do they will share this with their friends and family, or when they get approached by headhunters, all of this can help boost a company’s reputation. The last thing you need is for disengaged employees to bad mouth the company, don’t believe they do that go and check out the employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor. A lot of potential employees will check out your reputation, and if its not good it likely they won’t be applying anytime soon and certainly not in a buyers’ market.
Increase Customer Satisfaction
Happy employees make happy customers and when you employees are engaged and happy in what they do this can help increase customer satisfaction. I mean let’s face it, there is nothing worse than being served by an employee with a grumpy attitude.
Fewer Sick Days
Engaged staff take 41% fewer sick days, which mean there is less disruption and less strain put on the other employees who have to cover for these unplanned absences.
A new study from the Limeade Institute showed a strong link between employee engagement and stress levels. The results showed that 57 percent of highly engaged workers reported low stress levels. Conversely, only 17 percent of disengaged employees had low levels of stress.
So, based on all of that I think we can fairly say that as leaders having engaged teams should be one of our top priorities.
When you look at engagement there are big differences in the engagement levels based on the sizeof the company, now whilst companies of all sizes suffer from employee disengagement the real decline starts as soon as companies hit the 1000 employee mark and drops even further when a company hits 5000 staff.
In larger companies people can just feel that they are a very small cog in a very large machine, that their job isn’t really important or add value and they are just another number.
But there are things that large companies can do to help to increase engagement, here are my top 4.
There are three ways to improve communication
1) Increase the frequency of the communication this should be at least quarterly
2) Improve the quality of the communication, help your teams to better understand how they contribute to the company, what the goals and objectives are, and share the company’s higher purpose, it can all just be about profits and shareholders.
3) Make the feedback two way and give the teams an opportunity to provide and ask question. This will make them feel involved and boost their commitment
Create Opportunities for Growth
There is nothing worse than being stuck in a job doing the same thing day in day out, our teams want the chance to grow, to be challenged, and to develop. I am always stunned by that in large corporations where you would think that opportunities abound that the contrary is true.
Once of the easiest way for leaders to provide opportunities is to delegate some of their work. Every leader or manager I have ever known has complained about not having enough time or being too busy. So,delegate. This is a great opportunity for your teams and it’s win-win, it gives them a chance to try something new, and it frees up the manager to focus on the more important things.
People love to feel valued, to know that their contribution is important and is appreciated.
The best way to do that is through recognition. This can range from a simple thank you, good job well done, to giving public praise such as employee of the month awards,and the like.
The great thing about giving recognition is that it has a very low cost, and the return on that investment is repaid many times over. It not only creates engaged staff, but if done well it can create highly engaged staff too.
Put People in a Position to Succeed
Everywhere I go tell leaders that, in my experience, people are not afraid of hard work, they are afraid of failure. And if you think you would fail, then why would you bother to engage, the answer is you wouldn’t. So, as leaders we need to put people in a position to succeed, make sure that they have everything they need in order to be successful. And if you are not sure, then ask them. When people are put in a position to succeed, not only do they engage, but more often than not they are successful.
Now whilst employee disengagements levels are not as high in small companies, or start-ups they can still pose a significant problem, more so in fact if key staff leave,as you might not have the numbers to cover for them. Here are my top 4 tips for driving engagement in small companies.
Create Flexible Environment
Small companies and start-up often have the ability to offer more flexible working conditions such as remote working, flexi-work or even time off when an individual requires it. The leads to employees feeling a greater professional and empathetic view towards their company for giving them greater flexibility with their work.
Healthy Work Life Balance
Just because your teams have flexible working environment that doesn’t mean that they all need to be workaholics and online 24x7. Set boundaries, and expectations around working online and responding to email. Whilst many are keen to work for start-up, unless they have a stake in the business they are not going to be as enthusiastic and work all the hours god sends like the founder might. If you set the right boundaries and respect them, your team will respect you and will look to go above and beyond.
Trust is key to driving engagement and the nest way to do that is through transparency.
Being transparent means being open and honest with one another. You need to be clear with your team, remain honest, give them the insights and explanations behind your decision making and admitting when you have made a mistake. Transparency allows you to build authentic and trusting relationships with your team, all of which lead to increased employee engagement.
Open Door Policy
In large corporations, the sheer volumes of people can make open door policies difficult to handle, but in smaller companies this should be easier to do. This has several benefits, it allows your staff to be able to better connect with the leaders, have an increased feeling of involvement and have the opportunity to contribute by sharing their ideas. This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be regular communication, this should be in addition to it. If you’re worried about the amount of time this could take, then you can look to limit it by having specific times, such as wed mornings, or lunchtimes available, People won’t abuse the opportunity, because the appreciate it too much, so just be clear as to where and when and your teams will respect.
The benefits of highly engaged employees are significant and driving of engagement does not need to be an expensive affair. Many of the suggestions here have little to no cost, but their impact can be significant. All we need to do as leaders is to understand the importance of engagement and be committed to improving, and if you commit to trying these simple suggestions you will definitely see improvements that will benefit your team, your company and you.