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Why employee engagement is good for business

Here is a startling figure for you: The cost to the Australian Economy of employees who are not “engaged” by their work or employer is estimated to be $42.1 billion a year. To put that into perspective, that is the equivalent of 20.8 times the most recent Trade Deficit of Australia (August 2012). 

This is pretty staggering isn’t it? What it goes to show is that staff are the linchpin to most, if not all, businesses. If they are unhappy and doing a bad job, they could be potentially affecting your business profits. After all, your staff design your products, sell them, interact with your clients and above all, represent your brand. On the other hand, if they do a good job, your business thrives.

It is no surprise then, that some of the most successful businesses work to look after their employees. Just look at the 2012 “Best places to work” and you will see successful brands such as Google, Salesforce, Diageo and RedBalloon all listed. Indeed,if you go back through previous years, businesses which consistently rank as good employers, seem to be businesses which continue to do well in business.  So what is their secret

Common elements of great places to work

Whether you read research papers, or just listen to the experiences of employees who are really happy with their jobs (white or blue collar), the answers are pretty much consistent and the same. Employee engagement is the key to creating a workplace that employees perform well in. Research has found that employees were most engaged and happy when:

  • “I always know what I need to do when I show up.”
  • “My manager lets me handle some situations my way, but the ultimate outcomes I am to achieve are clear between me and her”
  • “Working in a company where my talents, knowledge and skill are understood, put to good use and respected.”

The research found that open two-way communication was pivotal to high levels of employee engagement. Furthermore, a good place to work is one where employees feel involved, that they have freedoms, clear directions and where the culture encourages them to bond with their workmates.

When these elements exist in a business, evidence suggests that employees are more cooperative, more helpful with colleagues, more punctual, more likely to turn up to work (not take sick days) and stay with the company longer. Contrast this with disengaged employees who are more likely to sabotage the business; look for ways to do less work, not turn up to work, or actively stymie business profits.

How to engage your employees

Chances are, you already know who your best employees are. Step back from the business and work out what makes them such valuable assets in your team. Is it the fact that they are a manager and have more visibility over the day-to-day? Or do you communicate with them more because you naturally get on and thus they feel like an important part of the team? Whatever it is, try to isolate common elements and then work out what you can do to infuse that into your workplace for all.

As identified above, communication is important in successful and happy businesses, so take steps to engage your workforce. This can be done through methods such as daily catch ups which allow you and your staff to know what is expected of them, the use of online project boards if they work in different locations, conducting annual away days to develop business strategy, or implementing systems which encourage you and your staff to interact in more meaningful ways.

What you need to remember is that with some adjustment, each of these approaches can work for businesses with multiple site locations, for businesses with either full time staff or shift workers and part time staff and in small or large businesses.

Technology can help

Fortunately, due to advances in technology, our methods of communication, and of organising our lives are made easier. For example if you are looking for a tool which can help streamline communications and marketing efforts to your clients, then there are tools like Salesforce or Marketo. Or if you need a way to hire casual staff simply and cheaply and without fuss, then you may use Oneshift. And if you are looking for a way to create shift rosters,  collate time sheet information to export to payroll, communicate with staff what you expect of them each shift, or need to share information with everyone at once, then you may sign up with Deputy, a solution designed to streamline business operations and engage everyone within the company.

Whatever you need, chances are solutions exist to help you. And if you are not sure where to find them, ask your staff, they perhaps, may have a solution you are looking for.