Most businesses recognize at some level that employee engagement is a good idea. It’s logical that a happy and involved employee is also a more productive one. However, research from Gallup suggests that even though most companies appreciate the importance of employee engagement, less than one third of employees in the US actually feel engaged in their jobs. And this figure has remained much the same for the last 15 years. So how do we find ourselves in this situation? One of the main reasons we suggest that improving employee engagement is an often quoted but rarely acted on concept is that managers and executives are over-thinking it. There’s so much data and information out there that it’s hard to come up with some practical and easily implemented initiatives at the same time as getting the day job done and meeting all the other demands on executives’ time. In this article, we identify some simple steps you can take now that will help to increase the level of employee engagement in your business.
Before getting into the detail though, let’s first remind ourselves what employee engagement is and why it’s good for business.
What Is Employee Engagement?
In simple terms employee engagement is all about putting in place the right conditions, values and tools to bring out the best in your employees. Engaged workplaces are ones in which staff members are motivated, committed, enthusiastic and they feel valued and appreciated by their managers and executives. Businesses with engaged employees have lower levels of staff turnover and sickness absence than their less engaged counterparts. They also have fewer workplace conflicts, grievances and performance management issues.
Why Improving Employee Engagement Is Good For Business
We’ve touched on this already, but research suggests that as well as lower absence rates, companies with engaged workforces also have 22 percent higher profitability than those with low rates of engagement. And businesses with 60 percent or more of employees feeling engaged have an average total shareholder’s return of over 24 percent. There’s no denying that these sorts of statistics equate to lots more dollars in the bank for businesses with engaged workforces.
What’s more, there are plenty of hidden costs to consider as well. There is evidence to suggest that disengaged and stagnating employees have a ripple effect on their colleagues. Before you know it, the whole team can be infected by that negative vibe and it can be very hard to pull the situation back when it reaches that kind of level.
Studies have also shown that disengaged employees are more likely to have an industrial accident. In fact, companies with engaged workforces have 48 percent fewer safety incidents.
And while we’re considering the hidden costs, let’s not forget those associated with performance management issues and workplace grievances. It’s not uncommon for companies with low levels of employee engagement to find themselves with large costs as a result of grievance proceedings, low-term sickness claims and legal disputes.
In essence then, if you improve the level of employee engagement in your organization you will have more productive employees. This, in turn, will impact on your customer service, so you’ll also end up with happier customers. It’s a win-win situation for your employees and your business.
So now that we are clear about what employee engagement is and why it’s important, we can now move on to look in detail at how to improve it.
Improving Employee Engagement Steps
There’s no need to read that 250 page study on employee engagement as here we distil some key steps that your organization can take now to increase employee engagement. We’ve deliberately kept it at the simple and easily implemented level. The bottom line is that improving employee engagement is about putting in place the right conditions in the workplace and that’s what we focus on with these steps.
1. Set Clear Expectations
This is the fundamental building block and it means setting clear rules, a sense of purpose and progress, as well as providing regular feedback to employees. It’s as simple as that. But without that framework of clarity, expectation and feedback, your employee will be floundering in uncertainty which will impact on their sense of engagement. Getting these fundamentals right will set you on the road to achieving better employee engagement across the board.
2. Improve Internal Communications
Good internal communications are at the heart of engaged organizations. It’s important to remember, however, that good internal communications isn’t just about the passive relaying of information. It’s about two-way conversations in which the views of staff are actively sought, valued and acted on. So make sure you have a good system of two-way communication in place. It could be in the shape of team briefings, executive roadshows or staff conferences. In addition, utilizing technology in the shape of an office intranet or company blog is also a good idea especially for those businesses that have a wide geographical spread or lots of remote workers.
3. Find Ways To Recognize And Reward Employees
From a simple thank you to a formal employee recognition scheme, finding ways to reward staff members that go the extra mile is a relatively easy way to enhance overall employee engagement. It serves as a visible demonstration that you value their efforts and hard work and it encourages staff to continue striving to improve their performance. And it’s not all about pay and benefits either. There are other ways that you can recognize and reward staff that won’t break the bank. A shared lunch for the sales team that won an important tender or a write-up in the staff newsletter are inexpensive and easy ways to acknowledge those staff and make them feel rewarded.
4. Collect And Analyze The Data
There’s no point in trying to improve employee engagement if you have no idea what your starting point is. It’s important to benchmark where you’re at before you can begin to consider where you want to be. Conducting an employee survey to assess staff views is an essential first step. For more in-depth analysis you could conduct a focus group to really get some information on what the employee engagement pain points are in your organization.
Armed with that benchmark data, you can now map out where you want to be and how you’re going to get there in a three or five year strategy. Yes, it could well take that long to bring about sustained improvements. The important thing is to make employee engagement integral to everyone’s day job and not just an annual tick box exercise.
Improving employee engagement is, therefore, an essential component of all successful businesses. It may be something of an abstract concept, but really the basics are quite simple: clear expectations, good communication along with employee recognition and reward are the key components. Focus your energies in these areas and see your levels of employee engagement begin to increase along with your bottom dollar.
If you would like to improve employee engagement in your organization, then contact the team at MyHub for an informal discussion on how a company intranet can help. MyHub is a cloud-based intranet providing business tools that enable better internal communication, improved work processes and sharing of organizational information as well as more opportunities for collaboration.