Why paying attention to employee engagement is cost effective

Employee engagement is a business concept relative to the fact that an “engaged” employee is happy, more involved, committed to the business and therefore more productive and help the organisation reach its full potential.
 
Staff – the best asset for the business

Benefits for a company with “engaged” employees are multifold:

  • Reduction of absenteeism and staff turnover
  • Reduction of workplace conflicts and health & safety incidents
  • Increase of individual performance and productivity
  • Increase of team-spirit
  • Increase of staff initiatives and contributions
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Quicker implementation of changes

 
Businesses who do not understand the importance of employee engagement may deal with a tacitly dissatisfied workforce lacking the enthusiasm that would make the difference vs. competitors in difficult global markets. Employees counting time and going through the motions may be quiet but the “it’s not in my job description” attitude is hampering the activity as well as staff morale in the long run.
Companies must realise that low employee engagement is actually costing them money.
 
Employee engagement covers several aspects: emotional, behavioural and social i.e.:

  • Emotional:  This is about how employees feel about the company and about their job, about the management, the work environment, how they feel about their future there;
  • Behavioural: This describes how employees behave at work; if they are positive and pleasant with one another, team-minded and enthusiastic; if they are fine with going the extra mile when needed, with sharing their skills with others.
  • Social: The employees’ positive attitude reflects well on the company they work for; they are eager to satisfy the client, to find solutions to problems, they feel involved and in charge. This in turn makes invaluable word-of-mouth promotion, as staff becomes the best ambassadors for the company.

 
There are many factors that will impact on employee engagement; the whole business structure and culture must be analysed before establishing a step-by-step action plan to attain best practice in engaging staff. Internal communication is crucial. Employee engagement must become an intrinsic part of the corporate culture, a management tool as well as a behavioural model.
 
Generating employee engagement

The plan must be company-specific; though the principles are the same, targets and actions will be determined by the individual context and the corporate strategy. It is about people, about corporate culture: there is no one-size-fits-all scheme.
The organisation of the company obviously plays a role: if the leadership is clear, the hierarchy slight and open, the positions and job descriptions clear and accurate, it will be far easier to communicate and develop vertical and horizontal exchanges.
 
Key to employee engagement is management relationships with staff. Management style must encompass respect and appreciation, exchange and feedback and managers must demonstrate commitment, energy and productivity to request the same from their subordinates.
 
An action plan is necessary to decide what the company-specific objectives are with the achievement of employee engagement; indeed reasons may be varied: from an increased performance, to absence reduction, not to mention implementation of new processes, new structure, a merger, etc.
 
Management (alongside HR and with contribution from line managers, union reps, etc.) will need to do some investigation groundwork to know what the grounds of dissatisfaction, the fears, hopes or frustration may be amongst staff. This collection of information can be done through staff surveys, focus groups, forums, social media platforms, ideas box, informal meetings etc.
 
The results will form the basis for the action plan.
Some of the results may be surprisingly simple to solve, e.g. regular information including facts and figures are reassuring with regards to the company’s good health and employees’ job security.
 
Actions may comprise staff appraisals (if not already in place), staff training (idem), team-building events, incentives and rewards should help keep employees on board and motivated.
 
Communication

However and by far the main support of employee engagement is communication, whatever the internal tools chosen:
 

  • Intranet
  • Team meetings
  • Newsletter
  • CEO bulletin
  • Ideas bank
  • Staff events
  • Posters and notice boards

 
Through communication is shown the desire from management to be transparent, to share good and bad news, to paint the global picture and describe what is expected of each and everyone, i.e. showing there is consideration for employees, who can be treated as the company’s first clients.
Through communication, corporate achievements and individual successes can be celebrated and employees’ feedback taken into account and acted upon.
Through communication employees will feel valued and appreciated, and gain an understanding of their own contribution in the bigger corporate picture. This gives them empowerment which in turn should transform these engaged employees into productive, happy, motivated contributors.
 
Savings translate in:

  • Less absenteeism, sickness and staff turnover means reduced temp and recruitment expenses
  • More contribution and initiatives mean better performance and enhanced productivity
  • Increased customer satisfaction means renewal of orders, referral to new customers through positive word of mouth
  • Confident employees will help implement changes quicker saving time and money.
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