Richard Branson says the recipe for employee engagement is “simple” and here at Endaba we couldn’t agree more. “Companies who put employees at the centre of their business find they in turn put their customers first,” says Patrick Egan, Managing Director at Endaba. “Employees want to be part of something that enhances their lives – professionally and personally.” But though it seems straightforward to some of us, evidently many companies are getting it wrong, as 4 in 10 employees feel disengaged worldwide [AON Hewitt]. It’s time for organisations to take employee engagement seriously.
Because even though employee engagement has been a hot topic in recent years, with much lip service paid to it, often it’s misinterpreted as simply a means to drive up productivity and financial results, constantly eyeing the bottom line. Profits over people… Instead, Patrick advises focusing on the people first – and letting profits follow naturally. A genuine commitment to enhancing employees’ working lives and sense of purpose inevitably leads to increased productivity and a more creative and innovative environment, which in turn brings better financial results. But it all stems from a ‘people first’ approach.
- What engagement really means It’s how invested an employee feels in the larger goals and success of the organisation. Career opportunities, communication, pay and managing performance are some of the most important markers.
- Include them in the big picture This links back to the importance of an organisation knowing what it’s in the business of and clearly communicating the overall vision and strategy to employees. Make it something they feel they can help shape, defining their role in the big picture to highlight the impact their work has.
- Loosen the leash Giving people the autonomy to make decisions and do their work as they see fit (as long as they meet their performance standards) promotes a culture of trust and respect.
- Invest in strengths Training to develop an employee’s positive qualities can be as worthwhile as correcting a weakness or skill that’s lacking, and it’s easier than ever to integrate online/remote programmes into the day-to-day. Equally, where performance needs to be improved work together to develop solutions.
- Please and Thank You Expressing gratitude for a job well done, though simple, is a powerful motivator. After all, why bother engaging if hard work isn’t recognised?
- Let their voices be heard Show willing to new ideas and suggestions that your employees offer and be creative about how you gauge these. The perennial survey is just one route – alternatively, some companies are using social media to engage their people in lively debates and discussions.
- Enhancement rather than Engagement Not just semantics – prioritising what employees want and need, as opposed to what the company wants to get out of an engagement exercise, is a significant shift.