Business confidence has been at a high for some time now. However, if you look off-shore, there are starting to be some global signs that a downturn may be coming. It’s not all ‘doom and gloom’ though – in fact, there’s a way that you can ensure that you ride the wave with your profits intact (or even improved). It all comes down to employee engagement; how much those who work for you love you. The best-performing companies the world over, have realised the benefits of ensuring their business performance strategies with employee engagement initiatives. In current times, and as more millennials begin to shape our workforce, positive business performance results come from recruiting and truly engaging your human resource. So let’s take a look at what’s best practice…
The Academic View
The need to engage employees to really excel in business isn’t just based on a hunch; there’s extensive research to show the link between profitability and engagement. Gallup’s Q12 Employee Assessment is performed every couple of years in 34 countries, across 49 industries. It combines 263 studies from 192 corporations that encompass more than 1.4 million staff and looks at how strongly employee engagement contributes to key performance outcomes for a business. The results are compelling and highlight a key difference between a company that thrives and one that merely survives.
Consider this: Businesses with employees who are feeling the love outperform others by 147%. Not only that, they have few quality issues or safety incidents and less shrinkage. Significantly too, they have 25-65% less staff turnover which means far less spent on recruitment, induction, training and the staff that they do have actually show up to work, as they recorded 37% less absenteeism.
In a tough economy, researchers found these effects made all the difference in an organisation’s ability to pull through. It could be seen that those businesses with engaged employees were able to retain and grow their profits faster than others in their sector, which is good news if we do approach an economic downturn.
We’ve blogged about many aspects of employee engagement over the past year or so we decide to pull together a lot of the research we found into a single employee engagement statistics infographic.
So How Do We Ensure Employees Get And Stay Engaged?
We’ll give you a clue, it’s not just about monetary rewards and pay rises. Boosting employee engagement to deliver better business results start with these three tasks:
1. Lead From The Front
You all know the saying “do as I say, not as I do” – well, the opposite is true here! Reports show that organisations who have leaders that set a positive example, and model desired behaviours, achieve 55% more employee engagement. Those in senior positions must exhibit the types of behaviour they want their teams to display and, to do that, their work needs to be seen. Put them in the ‘bull pen’ and have them spend some time on the front-line, as opposed to tucked away in the executive offices in the upper echelons of the business. Make sure they are visible, approachable and present, offering guidance and praise where appropriate. Work alongside champions in key roles to plan and implement an employee engagement plan, and hold them accountable for the outcomes.
2. Ask And You Shall Receive
Give employees a chance to have their say. One of the key ways to build engagement is through surveying staff. Provide them with a forum for giving you, and the business, feedback and keep a focus on questions that will bring forth data that is actionable; it’s one thing to give them a voice, but engagement will grow exponentially if that voice is truly heard and inspires action. Make sure changes are visible by celebrating them at team meetings.
3. Show A Little Appreciation
Here comes the softer side of management; your employees are people, after all – and people want to feel appreciated. The pay-off? Staff who feel their managers support them are 67% more engaged. Take the time to develop and maintain genuine relationships with your team. Get to know them as people, praise them when they do a good job and find meaningful ways to reward them; for example, an after work drinks shout or a coffee run when people are under pressure and working hard.
Borrow, Recycle, Upcycle
While improving company culture is likely to take some time and commitment, chances are you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! You can use the tools that you currently have available and align these initiatives with things you’re already doing. For example, is your intranet strategy currently supporting the above engagement drivers? It can do, and will make their implementation easier!
Firstly, consider your intranet as a forum for collaboration; a human playground with a softer touch, where open communication is encouraged. If we were to continue that analogy, it’s also an even playing field, which effectively breaks down the distance that exists between management and their teams. Add videos and places for employees to provide feedback, inspiring active two-way dialogue as opposed to merely posting policy documents for staff to read. Make sure this is supported by a culture that encourages employees to have their say and rewards, as opposed to punishing, different opinions.
Win over your team’s hearts as well as their minds by ‘walking the walk’ and modelling your engagement strategies on your intranet. The proof is in the pudding, as how you make your staff feel about their work will have the greatest impact on how they do their jobs. Proactively making these feelings positive is key to positive payoffs and there are so many ways you can do that. Genuinely care about your employees’ needs and development, advocate for your team to the wider organisation, and take an interest in them as people, celebrating milestones they reach, both at work and in their personal lives. A strategically designed intranet can help you do all of that, as well as providing praise, promoting new initiatives and prompting pride by sharing opportunities for community involvement.
Looking Inside As Well As Out
Amidst customer-focused and delivery-based KPIs, employee engagement often goes to the bottom of the list. However, for businesses that want to boost their performance – and profits – the research makes a resounding case for the fact that that would be a mistake! To further hammer home this point, Forbes took a look at 28 studies surrounding employee engagement. They found that businesses that had achieved 60-70% employee engagement had an average total shareholder’s return (TSR) of 24.2%. When the love tank dropped to only between 49-60%, those returns fell to 9.1 percent; a significant loss of profits! In businesses with less than 25% employee engagement, TSR was negative! These numbers are significant, as Gallop estimate that 70% of employees are disengaged.
Make sure you’re not falling into that latter group by acting now to drive employee engagement. The Forbes research found that a 5% increase in employee engagement can increase a businesses operating margin by .7% The rewards that come from a loved-up and loyal employee base are significant, whatever the business world and economy throws at us in the short-term. If you would like to look further at how your intranet can drive this, and contribute to your growth and profits, get in touch with us.