Employee engagement is key to not only retaining staff but also improving productivity. Whilst it often sounds like something only large businesses bother about and invest thousands in ‘engagement experts’, it is just as important for a smaller business. The moment you start to hire more people in your workforce, it is vital that you keep them engaged. In fact, it could be argued that engagement in the early days is even more important as it can have a real impact on the success of the business.
Rather than spending thousands of pounds from your limited budget on fancy, headline grabbing initiatives, there are five simple things any business can start to do right now to ensure their growing business has an engaged workforce:
Share the company vision
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Staff want to be brought into the business vision, so by sharing the company vision with them you immediately engage them. Get them as excited about your future as you are. This could be as simple as small meetings or short ‘presentations’ but if time and funds allow, why not hold a vision day for your teams to showcase where the business has got to over the last few years, where it is going and how it’s going to get there. Rather than just shouting about how great you are, be sure to convey how integral they have been and will continue to be in that journey.
Make their job matter
Most people who work for you are there for more than just a pay cheque. Given the ever-rising retirement age, millennials will spend at least 50 years in work and they’re aware of this. This generation, more than any other before them wants a ‘job’ that means something. Therefore, when they’re considering which career option to follow, they want to make sure they spend those years doing something they enjoy, feel part of and that gives them a future.
Regardless of the role that they are undertaking, find a way to make them realise the impact it has on the business and the above mentioned vision. Most people know the anecdote about President Kennedy’s visit to NASA where a janitor who was asked what his job is, answered, ‘Well, Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.’ The blue print of how employee engagement really works.
Trust your team to get the job done
Embrace a dynamic, results-focused working culture, where people can get the job done in a way that works best for them. Different teams and individuals may be more productive at different times of the day, or work in different ways. By encouraging flexible working in every sense (hours, location etc), you’re able to make the most of individual productivity and demonstrate trust to your workforce.
Once people feel trusted, they will feel empowered to work their best. But the onus will be on you to make flexibility possible. So, consider investing in technology that enables flexible working.
Think beyond the business
Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer just about ticking boxes and photos of big cheques. It’s about businesses making a genuine, positive contribution to communities. This has been shown as an important factor amongst millennials when choosing an employer. If, as an organisation, you have an initiative to support, encourage employees to get involved in it.
But there is no harm in canvassing opinion for other projects to support. This encourages employees to know that that the role they serve in the business has the potential to serve their own community or a cause that’s close to their hearts.
CSR can involve anything from donating money, to fundraising though challenges, or even allowing colleagues the time to go and volunteer.
Build an internal community
Research has in the past shown that close friendships at work can boost employee satisfaction and in fact having a close friend at work means you’re more likely to stay. Whilst it isn’t appropriate to force friendships, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging colleagues to socialise together, get different teams to communicate and collaborate more, and start build a mini community.
Transparency across the business is so much easier when dealing with smaller numbers, so use this as an opportunity to share information, challenges and opportunities, to once again make colleagues feel involved in the business journey, rather than relying on rumours and hearsay.
If you are at a size where colleagues are in different locations, take advantage of internal communications tools to encourage visibility and collaboration.
Whilst customer service, product development and financial management will and should always be important for a growing business, the importance of engaging staff should not be overlooked. A happy, engaged, productive workforce could be the difference between a successful business and a booming business.
Mark Woolley is commercial director for Reckon