Employees are the lifeblood of any business. Regardless of an organisation’s size and function, employees’ health and outlook will have a huge impact on productivity. In recent years, employee engagement has become a key area of focus for HR and management. Some reports suggest that as little as 13% of the world’s workforce are feeling engaged in their current role. This leaves employers questioning how they can bridge this large and worrying gap in engagement.
What Exactly Is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is a concept that centres around the way an organisation sets up the working environment to ensure the best return on productivity from its staff and stakeholders. This approach, when all of its conditions are met, should create employees that are invigorated, feel valued, and produce their best work consistently for a company.
Employee engagement is increasingly measured and analysed by organisations. This gives companies a score that they can use to judge current employee engagement and findings to further improve elements of the working environment. It is greatly influenced by staff and management communication.
However, like many parts of human nature, employee engagement can vary greatly from week to week and year to year. It can take months to bridge a gap, but only hours to bring the hard work crashing down!
How do I know whether I have good employee engagement?
Employee engagement is influenced by many factors, such as the working environment, the company ethos and culture, even down to management structure, salaries, and benefit packages. Setting up metrics to gauge employee engagement takes time and money. Here are a few signs that a company has positively engaged employees:
- Employees take little time off sick
- Employees appear happy in their roles and produce high-quality work
- There are open channels of communication between employees and management, with concerns and praise aired clearly and effectively
- Staff invest their time and energy into growing their roles and take on extra duties
- There is low staff turnover
Poor employee engagement can have clear and not-so-clear side effects. The obvious one is a fall in sales, or failure to achieve projected turnover and growth. More subtle signs can be projects and work falling between the cracks, or poorly maintained systems, a sense of unhappiness and frustration from staff.
Understanding That Communications Has a Role in Employee Engagement
A key element in employee engagement is communication. Communication runs through every aspect of an organisation, from company motos to conversations between employees and management. So it is no surprise that what is communicated and the way it is communicated can quickly impact on employee engagement.
Where communication is not handled in a certain way, the employee engagement gap occurs. It is therefore vital that organisations address the different types of communication, the style of communication, and what impact it has on their employees. As each business is unique and diverse, communications will vary greatly and so a bespoke approach is needed to bridge the gap in employee engagement.
Improving Communications: Take an Honest Review
Improving your current communications will require a hard look at many elements of the business. Often, for business managers, this view is biased. It’s therefore important to look at communications with an open mind, or even hire an external panel to review matters.
Create a questionnaire that invites honest feedback from current employees. Encouraging a response can be difficult, so it’s worth stressing anonymity and potential rewards for those who do fill out the questionnaire. A mixture of qualitative and quantitative data will help you build a picture and consider areas for improvement.
Key ways to address communication in the short term include:
- Restructure 1-2-1s and yearly reviews
- Address key concerns within the culture such as dealing with bullying or health and safety issues
- Create a feedback system where employees can make suggestions to improve the workplace, and ensure the feedback is visibly acted upon
- Create programmes to support employees’ mental and physical health
- Ensure employees have access to training or support that is relevant to their role
- Look at addressing any issues in the workplace, including decor and equipment, to create a suitable and motivational working environment
For the longer term, there are a variety of tools to improve communication between employees and management. Technology is increasingly used to create channels of communication between teams and departments, and can be especially powerful if used in conjunction with improvements to your “in-person” communication.
It may be that a restructure is in order. It seems a drastic move, but it could be the move that takes a company with low profits and unengaged employees to a company with unthinkable turnover and happy employees.
A Top to Bottom Approach to Reforming Communication and the Employee Experience
Implementing a culture change requires management cooperation as much as from the bottom-line employees. Instilling new processes and guidelines on feedback and training will help employees feel they are valued in their workplace. Listening and taking feedback on board on both sides creates open communication lines and approachable management.
The employee’s experience is what frames their engagement within the workplace. The solution to increasing engagement begins with looking through an employee’s eyes. From there, employee engagement can be bridged by having more effective communications in place.
Maurice De Castro is the Founder of Mindful Presenter. Maurice is a former corporate executive of some of the UK’s most successful brands. Maurice believes that the route to success in any organisation lies squarely in its ability to really connect with people. That’s why he left the boardroom to create a business helping leaders to do exactly that. Learn more at www.mindfulpresenter.com.
Thanks to Stephanie for the image.