Employee Engagement – why it’s important & what you can do

All about Employee Engagement – where to start?

As I’ve conducted more and more ‘lofty’ types of role throughout my career more often than not I’m part of an Employee Engagement, Wellness or Togetherness committee or programme.

I’m passionate about employee engagement as I’ve had the luxury to work for such a large range of companies throughout the world I’ve seen it done very right, & very wrong. And let me tell you, it’s not just about pay, benefits, holiday or having a football table in the canteen!

You probably have something at your workplace – a team of individual’s or managers or online resource designed to help YOU the employee, stay engaged & committed within your workplace. The idea is by offering a structured framework of support, a feedback loop & ensuring you’re listened to this will help engagement longer term and help everyone, you, the business, the bottom line – it’s a win win win! Right?

These committees have grown in popularity throughout organisations over the last decade, especially if we look at employee engagement statistics in the UK such as;

  • 75% of people voluntarily leave their jobs, not quitting the job but typically quitting their managers
  • Only 40% of the workforce knows their companies goals, strategies and overall mission
  • Although 90% of leaders think engagement strategy has an impact on business success, barely 25% of them have a strategy!

And we know employee engagement is important with statistics such as;

  • 2.5% increase in revenue with more engaged employees
  • 87% of highly engaged employees are less likely to leave than their disengaged counterparts

There’s a great info-graphic below with some more useful and surprising statistics;

There’s also a plethora of tools on the market to help with managing employee engagement, products such as OfficeVibe or Crowdicity make it super easy to run pulse surveys, get feedback and act on it. So there’s really no reason to not be committed to employee engagement – surely?

Here’s typically the issue though

Employee engagement although often seen as, is NOT an HR issue, it’s a management issue. Engagement must be driven by company culture & atmosphere. This needs to come from the top with senior leaders both walking the walk and talking the talk. If this doesn’t happen, often Engagement committee’s fail spectacularly becoming nothing more than a listening committee, a façade senior leaders put in place to give the impression they care.

Employee engagement requires a distinct level of commitment from the very top of the business, with a thirst & passion to deal with both the macro and the micro details of employee’s frustrations and gripes. Mostly though engagement is about action. Action from the business to help its employee’s be better. It’s often a responsibility companies shy away from but the welfare and health & wellbeing of a company’s employees is in quite a large part, on the company to take responsibility for. This isn’t about creating a nanny environment or allowing staff to not be accountable for themselves but considering staff spend more time at work than anywhere else, this is a responsibility not to be shirked if you want happy, engaged & committed employees. “you should be grateful you have a job in this economy” is not a message you want to be delivering yet I hear it time & time again.

So what can be done to effectively help with employee engagement? Really, actual doing-the-do type of stuff?

It’s not a big deal really;

  1. Listen – solicit surveys, verbal engagement through town halls and ask insightful questions in a safe and non-retaliatory environment
  2. Communicate a plan based on this feedback. A ‘you said’, ‘we heard’ and ‘we will now do’ type of approach
  3. Stick to the plan and communicate progress in particular the successes
  4. Rinse and repeat – especially point 1, at a micro level, ie. Each individual employee. Do this little and often, and provide feedback.

Some other tips include;

  • Trust – employee’s need to trust each other as well as their leadership. Employee’s often watch leadership to see how their decisions affect the strategic direction of the company and if their actual behaviours
  • Allowing staff to tell their own stories – give them a platform to demonstrate how they help support the company strategies or embody organisational values
  • Sharing information and numbers – this includes profit, loss, commercial issues and longer term strategy and vision.
  • Listen, then act. Every time.

There’s a fantastic guide here from Dale Carnegie (those employee engagement experts you have probably heard of) which I’m a firm believer that every company needs to action & adopt every single point. You can view it here

Here’s some practical things I see companies get wrong and I think are really fckn important to everyone;

  • Ensure on the 1st day, staff are really welcomed & made a fuss off. Computers, other equipment, and desk space is all ready. All IT works first time. Build a little welcome pack, some chocolates, flowers, or a personal gift maybe. Start as you mean to go on. I’ve seen one company take a picture from a new member of staff’s social media profile they felt was important, and frame it and put it on their desk – a lovely touch.
  • Offer proper appreciated modern-day benefits – stop citing 20 days annual holiday (inc. Bank holidays) or company pension as a benefit. Try and do things such as healthcare & gym membership subsidies, cycle to work schemes, flexible working and BYOD. Genuine development opportunities for the benefit of employee first, not the company. All this is important and relevant stuff to everyone.
  • Listen and offer genuinely safe open door policies.

There’s a great article here from Engage for Success which really drills down into what employee engagement is all about, go and check it out here  but I’ll leave you with a quote from it;

Employee engagement cannot be achieved by a mechanistic approach which tries to extract discretionary effort by manipulating employees’ commitment and emotions. Employees see through such attempts very quickly and can become cynical and disillusioned.

Got any interesting thoughts on Employee engagement? Are you part of an employee engagement board or wellness team? Is engagement important to you – if so why? Let me know what you think on Twitter @mariodc or in the comments below.


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