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Why SMEs need to focus on boosting employee engagement

Businesses are constantly on the hunt for ways to improve staff performance and raise productivity. Increasingly, attention is being focused on the challenge of deepening employee engagement.

When staff feel engaged with their place of work, they are more likely to perform well and deliver better outcomes – something every business is keen to see.

However, achieving effective and sustained engagement is not an easy task. It’s something that requires constant effort and continuous improvement on the part of both organisations and senior executives. 

Engagement and communication

An important part of increasing employee engagement is ensuring that effective communication channels exist within an organisation. If staff feel they are being listened to by senior management, engagement is much more likely to occur.

Unfortunately, however, it appears effective communication is not happening. According to a study by the US-based Workforce Institute, 86% of employees feel people in their organisation are not heard fairly or equally. Of those surveyed, 63% said they felt their own voice was ignored in some way by their manager or employer. 

It appears the challenge of disengagement is on the rise. According to a Gallop poll conducted earlier this year, only 32% of workers said they felt engaged with their work. This compares with 36% in 2020.

One of the more troubling findings of the Workforce Institute research was that one-third of people would rather quit or switch teams than raise the issue with their direct manager. This is a situation that needs to change. 

Taking the pulse

Thankfully, experience shows that such disconnect between staff and their employer is something that is relatively easy to solve. Engagement strategies, such as regular check-ins with people, can and do work.

Many organisations find staff surveys can be a simple but very effective method of capturing the voice of employees, and most enjoy the experience. It gives them an opportunity to share feedback with management, to be heard, and to drive positive change within their organisation.

Many managers opt to run quarterly surveys to gain an understanding of sentiment and set goals for every staff member. Each person can set their own goals for the coming quarter and identify areas that need to be changed.

If well designed, surveys can be perceived as a safe space where people can say what they really think. Noone should be compelled to answer any questions they don’t want to or feel uncomfortable with, but all should be encouraged to take part in the process. 

Once the surveys have been completed, senior managers must take the time required to review the feedback and then communicate with each staff member. In this way, engagement can be fostered and business conditions improved.

Beyond the survey

However, as powerful as they can be, surveys only scratch the surface when it comes to achieving employee engagement. To become really valuable, survey data has to be layered with something much more substantial.

These extra layers are other sources of qualitative (and possibly quantitative) data about employee habits and behaviours that can augment the data collected through the surveys. 

By introducing additional layers of data, it becomes possible to produce richer and more detailed insights that can drive personalised and proactive workplace initiatives. This is what will keep employees engaged.

Layering data in this way also provides managers and team leaders with a much more well-rounded view of what is going on within their organisation than would be achieved by simply relying on employee feedback collected via a survey.

One method of collecting additional quantitative data is by having a feedback mechanism associated with every documented process within an organisation. The presence of this mechanism acts as an ‘idea collection point’ and ensures that new thoughts are not lost. 

Taking this approach might also lead to the identification of administrative tasks that are not productive. These could be prime candidates for automation, which would free staff to focus their time and energy on more stimulating activities.

Organisations want engaged teams that positively contribute to the business’ performance. By undertaking these steps, leaders can make a significant impact on how innovative, productive and committed their teams are, which promises better outcomes for everyone involved.

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Chris Ellis

Chris Ellis

Chris Ellis is Director Pre-Sales for Nintex, the global standard for process management and automation. He is responsible for advising customers with best practice process strategies in support of enabling their corporate strategy. Chris has more than 15 years of experience in software consulting and engineering.

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