Employee engagement is a key theme for many SMEs as they struggle to attract and maintain talent in the highly competitive employment market.
According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce report, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work and in Australia only 24% of workers are engaged.
Employee engagement isn’t the same as employee happiness; rather, it is the emotional commitment of employees to the business and its goals. Unengaged workers cost a business in terms of lost productivity and in the age of social media, a few disgruntled employees can damage your reputation.
While motivating your workforce can be one of the toughest challenges you face in your business, high employee engagement can lead to increased efficiency, higher levels of customer service and satisfaction, minimised staff turnover and non-attendance and the potential to attract and keep new employees.
Here are five ways you can improve the engagement of your employees:
- Live your company values
While many businesses put considerable effort and time into developing catchy and inspiring sounding values, very few actually help their employees to live these values. In most cases employees learn about company values during induction, only to never hear about them again.
Consider how you can remind your existing employees about your values. For instance, initiatives like reward programs where employees can nominate their peers for displaying the company values can be an effective way of reinforcing values on an ongoing basis.
- Acknowledge people and their achievements
There are plenty of opportunities to demonstrate how important your employees’ input to the business is. Celebrating their hard work, such as the culmination of a successful project, a satisfied client or even staff birthdays, promotions and personal milestones, can help to ensure employees feel valued and can help to motivate them as well.
When employees feel this support and encouragement, combined with a sense of genuine respect and the feeling of being valued by their organisation, higher levels engagement is the result.
- Be transparent
Being transparent and authentic with employees invokes a sense of trust, mutual respect and empathy. It’s the organisations that keep their teams informed of the overall business performance and its direction that have higher levels of commitment, accountability and employees who understand how their direct actions impact the business.
- Provide pathways for development
Employees need to feel they’re being given an opportunity for growth and development. If your business doesn’t have a performance management system, put together a plan so you can give timely feedback on your employees’ performance. A good performance management system makes it easier for you to recognise and reward good performance while allowing you to manage underperformance.
Ongoing training is also an important part of your employees’ professional development, and thus, the business’ development. For new employees, having a comprehensive training program and induction process laid out allows them to feel integrated and take on new challenges faster. Providing training for current employees means they can grow and take on more valuable roles within the business.
- Create a positive and welcoming work environment
Feeling unwelcome or out of place in the workplace can lead to an unengaged employee. Creating a positive and welcoming workplace will ensure all employees feel included and comfortable.
A good way to do this is to ensure workplace policies around bullying and employee conduct are regularly updated and enforced. It’s also a good idea to encourage an environment where employee feedback and communication is valued – for example, have a system or procedure in place where employees can regularly express their opinions and ideas freely without fear of reprimand.
It’s easy to dismiss employee engagement as a low priority but the reality is, having employees that are engaged in the businesses and supportive of its success and future, can be a distinct competitive advantage and help your business grow to new heights.
About the Author
Mikki Silverman is CEO of DiffuzeHR. The company’s cloud-based HR management system is designed to help SMEs minimise risks, reduce legal fees, decrease time spent on admin, attract and retain staff, and leverage best-practice, industry-specific HR and legal expertise.