Employee engagement is not just a nice idea. Demotivation and disillusionment is bad for employees and bad for business.
Not only can it lead to absence through stress and depression, it can also result in low productivity amongst employees that do make the effort to turn up to work.
In fact, a 2012 government report on mental health in the workplace stated that whilst absenteeism was costing UK employers £8.4 billion a year, presenteeism was almost twice as costly, at £15.1 billion a year.
Add to that the increased risk of employee turnover, with replacement costs averaging over £30,000 per employee, and it can be seen why getting employee engagement right is so critical.
With this in mind, we asked three HR experts to give us their top tips for helping staff to feel valued and motivated. Focus on these five areas and you should go a long way towards developing a happy workforce:
Deciding to focus on employee engagement is a positive step for any business to take. That said, as every organisation is unique, taking a one-size-fits-all approach to employee engagement can do more harm than good.
Karen Teago of Gravitas HR explains: “A big mistake we see organisations making, is to try to “borrow” engagement strategies from other businesses without fully considering whether those strategies align with their own organisational aims and values.
“Doing something purely because it looks like it is successful in another business can appear false, and can have precisely the opposite effect to that which is required! Employers must remember that, above all, engagement comes from within the organisation, not from outside of it.”
Once you have a good strategy in place with some great ideas for employee engagement, the next critical stage will be effective leadership.
As Rebecca Dixon of Halo HR says: “People with a leader who is truly passionate about what they do are more likely to feel inspired and share their enthusiasm.
“However, a manager with passion is not enough on its own, they need to be able to share their vision and engage the team through open and transparent communication and engender a positive culture based on trust.
“Working towards a common purpose or shared goal will result in employees feeling they are a valued and are an important part of the organisation’s success.”
One of the key ways to encourage a culture of employee engagement is transparency.
As Emma del Torto, managing director of EffectiveHRM says: “Employees express feelings of suspicion and uncertainty when they don’t know what their future holds or how decisions are taken. This might be concern for their own role and tasks they have to perform, their job security and even the future direction of the organisation that they work for.
“Sharing the vision for the future, setting clear targets and providing some structure are all constructive steps for an organisation to take to lessen an employee’s feelings of uncertainty or suspicion. In turn, this could reduce stress and obviously lead to employee development and better productivity.”
There is no doubt about it: flexible working can have a huge impact on productivity through increased employee engagement. Only this year, a survey by Vodafone Group of 8000 employers and staff showed that 61% said that flexible working had helped them increase company profits.
It’s a sentiment shared by Emma del Torto of Effective HRM: “A clear structure within a workplace is important, but so is allowing employees a degree of flexibility around their role and how they fulfil their work obligations.
“We all have obligations and interests outside of the workplace. We are also in search of the work life balance. Working for an organisation that encourages all employees a degree of flexibility is important. Employees feel more valued if they are encouraged not to miss sports day, allowed some working from home or allowed time off to improve the golf handicap when the sun is shining.”
Emma also believes that having good channels of communication is essential to encourage a culture of employee engagement.
She says: “Employers can be poor at giving both positive and negative feedback. It is important to remember that if someone is not carrying out a task the way you want it done, then you need to find a way to inform them of this.
“Also, communication works both ways and organisations would benefit from allowing employees to give feedback. Feedback should be timely, it should include praise and constructive criticism, and it shouldn’t be restricted to formal processes such as annual appraisals.”
Need further advice on employee engagement?
Following the five steps above can take you a long way towards developing a motivated and happy workforce. However, if you need further advice, we can refer you to a HR consultant to help you develop an effective employee engagement strategy of your own.
Equally, if you would like a free demonstration to see how our HR software can help you to manage and monitor areas such as training and appraisals, just click here or call the myhrtoolkit team on 0845 225 0414.