advo HR’s Carly Gregory and Faye Baker take a closer look at employee engagement and how SMEs can match their PLC counterparts.
As surveys and research from past and present confirm time and time again if employees feel appreciated it leads to improved retention rates, employee satisfaction and them having a sense of value at work with an employer seeing improved productivity.
The term for this that is often used is ‘Employee Engagement’, but what is it?
In the words of CIPD “in the broadest terms, employee engagement brings together a range of established concepts, including job satisfaction, motivation, work effort, organisational commitment, shared purpose, energy and ‘flow’. It describes an internal state of being – both physical, mental and emotional – but can also include behaviour, such as commitment and ‘going the extra mile’.” but essentially it translates into a happy employee is a productive employee.
Employers want engaged employees because, as well as being happier, healthier and more fulfilled, they are more motivated and deliver improved business performance improving the bottom line. Research links how people are managed, their attitudes and behaviour, and business performance.
What are the benefits of Employee Engagement?
- Higher Employee Satisfaction
Employees that are engaged and satisfied at work, have a greater connection to the company and are therefore more likely to produce quality work.
- Higher Retention and Lower Turnover
With satisfied and ‘happy’ employees less likely to leave a company and therefore saving the employer a huge cost and time on recruitment and on-boarding. As well as retaining corporate knowledge that is sometimes invaluable.
- Higher Productivity
When employees are engaged they are more likely to produce better quality of work with a sense of responsibility if they are treated well by their managers.
- Less Absenteeism
Disengaged employees can sometimes feel less responsibility to the business and therefore less likely to be present. Engaged employees feel part of the organisation and therefore feel a sense of responsibility.
- Increased Employee Loyalty
Engaged employees often act as company ambassadors.
So how can SMEs do employee engagement successfully?
Small businesses often do not have an in-house HR department and therefore can sometimes miss the benefits of some HR initiatives such as ‘employee engagement’. However employee engagement can be successful no matter the size of the company. Below are 10 ways you can improve engagement:
1. Formal On-boarding Process
It is proven through research that employees who receive a formal on-boarding process are more likely to stay within the company longer than those that do not receive a structured on-boarding.
2. Work Environment
Consider if the work environment is fit for purpose and whether it creates an engaging place to work, does it meet the needs of the employees and business?
Culture does not need to be forced and employees should eventually build this themselves, the employers role is to create a supportive and encouraging environment.
Building relationships with employees is key to them feeling valued and understood, do this by showing that you understand that it is important to them.
5. Frequent Feedback
Constant communication with employees is key in engagement. Constant feedback including constructive feedback keeps employees on track to achieve their goals. This can be done through frequent check-ins or monthly 1-1s.
Encourage employees to support each other, a ‘thank you’ from a co-worker is almost as rewarding as one from you.
7. Growth Opportunities
Investing in employee’s personal and professional growth demonstrates to the employee that you value them and see them as a long term employee.
8. Transparency and Trust
Employees feel more engaged if they are communicated with all levels of the business, as they feel they are part of the bigger picture and they can align their work to the company vision, thus their work feels relevant and valued.
9. Benefits and well being
Great employee benefits make employees feel happy and work a more enjoyable place. Examples include fruit in the office and flexible working. Encourage employees to take holidays and breaks and support them to take care of their health.
10. Room for Innovation
Seek employee’s new ideas, encourage them to share ideas and respond to these ideas with feedback.
One of the most powerful tools at an employer’s disposal is recognition and an employee’s understanding of their ‘Total Reward’
Recognition is one aspect of encouraging and increasing employee engagement. April tends to be a common time of year when companies review their employee’s annual salary. If an increase is not on the cards, employers could consider putting a recognition and reward strategy in place, and this does not have to cost much.
The strategy put in place should encourage behaviour and productivity to support the business objectives and be aligned with the employee’s needs and desires. Recognition from peers is also just a valuable as recognition from management.
Inexpensive ideas of recognition and total reward in the workplace:
- Include peers to vote for employee of the month, by encouraging employees to support each other, this will be just as rewarding as a thank you from management.
- Pass on praise – if you hear something positive about an employee, pass it on to them!
- Implement a suggestion programme.
- Ask the employees what they would value in terms of rewards, you may be surprised some perks may not be monetary.
- Express an interest in employee’s personal development and support them in their personal achievements. This will show that you care about their personal wellbeing.
- Where possible, allow employees to work autonomously. Allowing them to choose their next assignment, may make them more engaged and focused.
- As a manager – take time to know your employees.
- Something as simple as sending a thank you note to an employee for working longer hours etc. can make the difference and make them feel appreciated.
- Considering employees for opportunities of promotion or to gain experience within the Company, where appropriate.
- Provide an employee with an extra long lunch break on occasion.
- Include employees in the planning of company events
- An attractive working environment.
- Flexible working hours and, opportunity to work from home.
- Flexible benefits and total reward statements (TRS).
Putting a recognition and total reward strategy in place can not only help to retain and engage existing employees, but also to recruit new ones.
However, in order for this to be a success, managers need to support the Company’s commitment to reward and recognition. Staff need to be educated by the Company and communicate the value of any reward package. The package needs to take into consideration what the employee needs and wants, otherwise they will not see any value in it.
Carly Gregory (Assoc. CIPD) Faye Baker (Assoc. CIPD)