Creating an engaged workforce

When your staff are engaged in the workplace they are happy – and equally as importantly, they are productive and motivated to perform. There is robust data supporting the business benefits of fostering an engaged workforce in small and large business. It pays to make it a priority. Gallup in 2012 found that organisations who ranked in the top quartile for engaged employees had a 22 per cent higher profitability and 10 per cent higher customer service rating than those in the bottom quartile.*

Conversely, the negative impact of unengaged staff on business is high. Aside from reduced productivity and customer service, it is estimated that the cost of replacing staff is between 16 per cent and 200 per cent percent of their annual salary depending upon their role and seniority.**

Within small business, where there are arguably a higher percentage of part-timers and casuals, creating a focused workforce can be a challenge. Certain industries by their nature attract more transient employees which can engagement even more complex to achieve. All the more reason to make every moment count! As Stephen Covey says: “Start with the end in mind.” ***

Onboarding process

Remember first impressions do count. Employees who have a positive introduction to their role are more likely to remain in the role longer. Research also shows that a strong onboarding program can boost new hire productivity by 70 per cent.****

  • Outline expectations clearly and be friendly and positive in your approach.
  • Resist the urge to cut corners on training and orientation. Try to keep processes simple.
  • Provide a “buddy,” a “go to” or a mentor to support your onboarding efforts.

Create and share clear goals. Reward success.

Research suggests that workers who are given autonomy to make decisions, offer opinions and suggest change are more engaged and motivated to perform.*

  • Be transparent with what you want to achieve and collaborate with staff at all levels to solve problems.
  • Whilst undoubtedly money is a motivator for all employees, study after study has confirmed that if workers are paid acceptably, it is a positive work environment and other perks that foster overall greater engagement.
  • Rewards for a job well done don’t have to be expensive but should recognise the worker and suit the business type, flexibility, a free meal or a movie ticket. There are some great programs like Brownie Points™ that can automate and make the employee reward system easier for businesses to manage.

Communicate richly

It is open, authentic and frequent quality communication from you and/or your Managers that will make or break your staff’s engagement.

  • Gallup suggest that immediate Managers account for 70 per cent variance in employee engagement scores* so it’s vital that your Supervisors/Managers understand the significance of driving an informed, positive workforce who receive constructive feedback often. Interestingly, employees who take part in regular meetings have been shown to be twice as engaged as those who don’t.*****
  • Foster diversity and inclusion in your workplace environment through your recruitment practices and create opportunities to bring team members together socially. Volunteering for a shared cause is an excellent way of providing a sense of belonging.

Create strong organisational values

A workplace with integrity lives and breathes a culture where respect prevails.

  • Leaders should “walk the talk” to embed identified values throughout the workplace.
  • Remind staff of these values often and tie rewards to those who demonstrate these values. As a result you will engender trust and create a more meaningful engaged environment.

Choosing to invest in your people is choosing to invest in your business. Engaged employees working a stellar culture supported by leaders who communicate positively and openly can be the key to move your business performance from ordinary to exceptional.

* Sorenson, S. 2012: How employee engagement drives growth. Gallup Business Journal

** Boustley, H et al. 2012: There are significant business costs to replacing employees. Centre for American Progress

*** Covey, S. 1989: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Free Press

**** Stack, R et al. 2015: Creating People advantage 2014-2015: How to set up great HR Functions. BCG Perspectives

***** Scholz, W. 2015: The average cost to train a new employee. Chron

Lexie Wilkins, Culture and Employee-Engagement Expert and Director, Lexie Wilkins Consulting

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