As businesses start to move towards a degree of normality, and recruit staff to meet increased demands, employing the right staff who will be engaged in your business is critical.
The key is not to get engagement confused with engage. A CEO, team leader, manager or HR professional can engage with their team or colleagues several times a day, simply by having a quick conversation at the coffee machine.
Employee engagement is much more emotional and holistic. It is about the overall employee experience.
Without positive employee engagement, you quite simply have less satisfied employees. This is shown in a range of ways that impact on your business such as absenteeism, low productivity, poor customer service and experiences.
It can be spotted in other ways as well. Those are the tangible signs, and are undoubtedly the ones that have a longer corporate impact. But taking a walk around an office or workplace and watching your team should deliver further insights that can give you an early warning signal. Go with your gut. If people don’t look happy, if the mood is negative, if they are working slowly or with less interest or morale is obviously low then it’s a sign you need to assess levels and improve employee engagement.
So what is employee engagement? It’s not just about being happy – you can have happy, yet lazy or unmotivated staff. You want happy, motivated and engaged staff.
So, when should employee engagement start? It should start before they are even employees.
Every company is a brand. The public perception will always differ from the internal one, but that first touch-point for potential employees is key. Think about how you are represented, not just on your owned media – your website, your blog, your advertising – but on social media and employer review sites. What are people saying about you? How strong is your PR, your brand, your reputation? Would someone be proud to work for you, would they recommend you? Recruitment is a two way process now, and the candidates need to be just as sure about you, as you are about them.
The first thing to do to start driving positive employee engagement, as opposed to simply engaging employees, is to understand the level of commitment and ensure you have a receptive and open leadership team. Without an on-board management team then an Internal comms or HR professionals will struggle to implement any cultural changes. Then full audits should be carried out, using both quantitative and qualitative methods.
Internal HR or internal communications teams can sometimes find they are too close to the business to be able to recognise, let alone assess any problems – this is where we can come in. By offering an objective eye and a neutral ear, we can give the employees confidence to voice any concerns. We also give HR managers and internal comms professionals the support needed to sign off on changes.
The next step is to set benchmarks. These are the tools upon which you will measure success and they differ from business to business. You’ll find that they will come out of the audits and any research that has been carried out. You may only have a few but they need to be honest and sustainable. Then you need to appoint the champions, the systems and the frameworks needed to reach the goals.
Introducing a programme of change and engaging employees to achieve positive employee engagement requires a mindset of continued improvement. You need to keep evaluating, keep on top of new trends and initiatives and keep improving.
When did this drive towards employee engagement start? There is no doubt that there have been massive moves towards this in the last few years, starting a couple of decades ago in the U.S. with the growth of gamification. It became commonplace to adopt strategies that would drive more sales, increase collaboration and ROI, instill deeper loyalty and raise customer satisfaction – good salaries alone cannot deliver this.
The challenge for managers is to try to be neutral and recognise that we can all learn something from one another. To give employees autonomy, responsibility and worth, while still steering them in the right direction for the brand. Engaging employees well and regularly is of course essential to driving higher levels of employee engagement.
And it is always about the brand. Your purpose, EVP and company values need to be present at all times to be engaging employees effectively. A joined up approach of internal comms, HR, recruitment and marketing will help with this.
By driving positive employee engagement, you are helping to build passion, loyalty, continuity and growth. It’s a long-term goal – to build a good employee experience for the whole journey they have with your business.
Engaging employees is a great always on approach but this needs to be underpinned with a clear and tailored strategy and framework for employee engagement at an individual organisation.
To learn how we can help you to engage your employees, call Brownie Points today on +61 (0)3 9909 7411 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org