Updated: Mar 17
Employee engagement is a term used to describe the level of commitment and involvement an employee has towards their work and company. An engaged employee is someone who is enthusiastic about their job and takes pride in their work. They are motivated to do their best and contribute to the success of the organisation.
Engaged employees are more likely to stay with a company longer, be more productive, and have a positive impact on the workplace culture. Fostering employee engagement can improve retention rates, reduce turnover, and boost morale. It can also lead to increased customer satisfaction and improved business outcomes. Whilst there is no defined answer or solution to what employee engagement means and how to achieve it, some common themes include: a feeling of connection to or involvement in one's work, a sense of satisfaction with one's job, and a desire to contribute to one's organisation.
When it comes to understanding employee engagement within your own business however, I believe an organisation's approach should be entirely focused on finding out what really motivates and drives your staff and why - often you'll find it's the really simple things that make the biggest difference.
The best question we can ask within organisation's is;
What is the difference that makes the difference?
Really think about what is it that you do that makes people want to work for your organisation or what it is that's missing. I sometimes relate this to what I personally call 'The Biscuit Effect' - when I stay in hotels or self catering accommodation I have a standard I compare everything to, aside from the obvious of cleanliness, location etc which meet the most basic needs, the real test for me is based on the quality of the biscuits on arrival or the welcome pack. My husband thinks I'm a little bonkers, however, particularly as a visual person the first impressions are crucial and it's the small gestures that make the difference. We all know we pay for any kind of welcome pack as part of the room rate but something as simple as a quality biscuit (the likes of a clotted cream shortbread, a personal favourite) to enjoy with a cup of tea when you first arrive, feels much more indulgent than a bog standard custard cream or worse - no biscuit! I can recall the places I've stayed where they have included a handwritten note, fresh milk in the fridge and a bottle of wine and local produce as part of the welcome pack, it immediately makes a personal connection and evokes a feeling of being a valued customer. That someone has thought about my needs after a long journey (and the fact I've probably either forgotten to pack the bare essentials or they're buried deep in the car), makes me start to relax into the holiday and provides a really positive first experience. Of course, this isn't standalone, but a warm reception also means I'm much more likely to overlook minor problems that may occur during my stay. The other really important aspect for me is the good old fashioned 'service with a smile', a friendly face and a simple check in to see if everything is ok and as expected. Not only does this again make me feel like my custom and opinion is important (ultimately we all want to feel we have a voice and that we will be listened to) but it also means I am much less likely to find faults. Personally, when I have experienced the exact opposite of the above, I actually go out of my way to find faults - 'have you seen the cobwebs in the corner', and 'the top of that wardrobe is covered in dust!' and, should there be other issues during my stay, it escalates to furiously typing an e-mail of complaint. Been there? I'm pretty sure I'm not alone and I'm confident a quick scan of Tripadvisor will back me up!
If we apply the same principals to the workplace then what 'biscuit' would you offer to create the best impression of your organisation? Are you doing enough to create an engaging welcome and how do you 'check in' with your employees to maintain it? Do you create a warm environment for staff to raise concerns and do you discuss issues openly to find solutions?
Often the onboarding process is overlooked as manager's are under pressure and require staff to hit the ground running, or there is an assumption (sometimes an unconscious one!), that the new recruit should be thrilled to have a job within your organisation and be receiving a competitive salary. Whilst of course it is essential that employees are committed to your organisation and should want to do their best at work, we're in a changing world and there is a myriad of data that tells us that salary and cash benefits are no longer enough. Imagine what impact it would have to sit down with a coffee and get to know your new recruit on their first day, and/or giving them something equivalent to the luxury biscuit/welcome pack, think about how this could stay in their minds throughout their employment; it is always the simple gestures that are well remembered.
As I mentioned earlier, the second important stage is the 'check in' and follow up, this is usually achieved through regular one to one meetings and as part of the appraisal process. As simple as it sounds, think about how you create that warm and safe environment for your staff to discuss concerns, ask for help or just to ensure they feel part of the team; do you ensure regular time is in your diary to check in with your team members?
Regular conversations are also an opportunity to agree clear objectives, provide feedback and show employees how their work contributes to the organisation’s objectives.
Ultimately it's a proven fact that employees who are engaged with their work are more productive. They are more likely to put forth extra effort and be creative in their approach to tasks. Additionally, they are more likely to stay with the company, which reduces turnover and training costs.
If you don't know how your employees are currently feeling or want to find out more about how The HR Crowd can help you to improve your employee engagement then please contact us; firstname.lastname@example.org.