Let’s start with the last part of the title of this article first. In a business environment, it is reasonable to expect actions to produce clear, favourable, results. A sales drive produces more sales, a marketing campaign raises awareness, and so on. Employee engagement is no different in this respect. When employees are actively engaged with the working environment (and their own role within it), you can expect a very positive outcome in terms of:
- Staff retention
- Management relations
- Loyalty and advocacy
- Customer satisfaction
Or to put it another way, as any good employer will tell you, an engaged employee works harder, stays longer, likes their manager, tells others how good your business is and wants to please your customers. These all have an effect on profitability and make life easier when it comes to difficult times like a depressed marketplace or institutional change.
No business in the world would turn their nose up at hitting the marks on that list. However, creating employee engagement requires a considered and organised approach.
Creating engagement by eliminating disengagement
You could argue that there was a time when the employee/employer relationship was commonly about everyone in a business, either doing a specific job or being in the chain that managed them. This is a result of the traditional workplace top-down ‘management through to shop floor’ style of organisational approach. The managers sat on high and sent dictates down via supervisors to a workforce who were simply there to collect a pay packet at the end of the week. It is rare to find this anymore for many reasons. The gig economy, changes in working practices, greater awareness of the benefits of company culture, and so forth, all played a part in making the workplace a more attractive prospect to the employee.
Employee engagement is part of this change. While we all have our off days, we want to get up in the morning looking forward to the day ahead. If we are engaged with the workplace and our employer, we do that more readily.
A good place to start when looking to increase your engagement is to eliminate the factors that reduce it. Top of these is likely to be feedback and praise, or the lack thereof. It is very easy to fall into the trap of assuming that the colleague who works well is satisfied because they are doing a good job. However, there is a difference between working hard and being engaged with the workplace, and the occasional snippet of recognition or a thank you can make a big difference.
Too much attention can also be a good way to interfere with the engagement process. What may seem to a manager like interest and trying to be supportive can easily step over into feeling like micromanagement or, worse still, a feeling of being watched for the employee. Attention and support are great, overwhelming management presence, even with the best of motives, is stifling. Regular reviews and ensuring help is there when needed, allows the employee the self-direction needed to engage with their work.
I once heard a great description of the best approach to ensuring employees were involved with their workplace in a positive way. An HR manager told me that they had so much engagement because ‘it is better to build up than push down’. Practically that translated as a regular programme of actions to record the employees ‘voices’ and a workplace that allowed everyone to have opinions. If the workforce feels they have influence and are heard, then naturally, they will engage more.
The options for creating the interactive, dedicated work environment you want are almost endless. In this article, we have not even touched on areas such as sharing good practice, group learning sessions, training opportunities, social activities, and many others. Also, it is important that you do not look for off the shelf solutions and key your approach to your environment.
One final thought related to recruitment
Engagement starts with the employment process. We work with our clients to ensure that from the moment you make the decision to employ someone, you are actively seeking the people who will align with your values and company ethos. The truth is that if you couple a good recruitment partner with a good employment process, and then ensure a good onboarding strategy, you can almost guarantee a good hire that will get you a pre-engaged employee.
As always, if you want to know more about engagement and employing the right team, feel free to call us, and we will be happy to talk it through.