Many companies talk of the importance of employee engagement, as business leaders understand that employees are their foundation and are critical to drive employees forward and engage with customers. But Dale Carnegie Training found that “90% of organizations say employee engagement impacts business success, but 75% of organizations have no engagement plan or strategy.” Furthermore, many of those organizations with an engagement plan really have little more than offering the occasional potluck or social outing, and then are surprised to see that employees still feel disengaged from the company’s success.
Employee engagement is a tricky field, especially because it is impossible to make 100% of employees happy 100% the time, and no one likes that guy who tries to please everyone. But that does not mean employee engagement is not a worthwhile goal. By understanding why employee engagement is so critical, companies can better understand how to actually create it.
Looking for Meaning
Companies often think that they can increase employee engagement by adding more pay and benefits, but offering a bunch of money and perks will often create mercenaries who will not hesitate to leave if they think they can get a bigger paycheck elsewhere. At worst it can create a culture of entitlement that can wreck a business. You must speak to a worker’s soul and not just his pocketbook.
Employees above all want to work for a company which they can be proud to work for. This is particularly important given the growing size of the millennial workforce, who The Guardian notes “get a lot of recognition for being the purpose-driven generation.” Millennials, whether entry-level or managers, have made it clear that they will take less pay to get a meaningful job.
If you are a business which can easily frame itself as working to truly help customers or society in general, then you are in great shape. But there are other ways of creating a company with pride. Instead of emphasizing cutting costs, discuss the importance of growth and show employees how the company has grown recently thanks to their efforts, where it will continue to expand, and how that is good for them as well as people outside the company.
Employees are not fools. If they see a business slashing costs and struggling, they will have one foot out the door. But by showing them that they are part of a virtuous thing much bigger than themselves, that will inspire more loyalty than mere pay.
Listen and Care
The Harvard Business Review noted “that managers account for as much as 70% of variance in employee engagement scores,” and anyone who has been miserable working for a terrible boss can attest to how much their managers affect their engagement. Employees will not hesitate to leave to get away from a terrible boss. Even if they do not, they will not be proactive, voice new ideas which will only help their foolish boss, nor work to their full capacity.
Terrible bosses can be terrible in a variety of different ways, but the most important thing managers can do is to listen to your employees and actually try to take their opinions into account. Ask yourself what you know about your employees outside of their work, what they like to do outside the office, and various personal questions like that.
The goal is not to be your employee’s best friend. But by actually listening to their ideas and treating your employees like human beings and not just a cog in a vast corporate machine, that personal touch can help workers stay engaged and give you valuable information which can benefit the company.
Social Media and Employee Engagement
High employee engagement does not just encourage current workers to stay with your business, but it also encourages job applicants to apply for openings. Social media and websites like Glassdoor measure employee engagement and also offer a form of advertising to customers and applicants about whether they should get involved with the company.
Some employers, in an effort to show that their firms are engaging places to work, may direct employees to share or post positive news on social media. This idea is misguided. Even if employees do not blab about how the company is forcing them to post positive social media posts, using an ExpressVPN review here, applicants will get suspicious about any company whose approval rating is too high.
No matter what your business does, there will always be a few bad apples who will complain about their conditions no matter what you do, and those sorts of individuals are more likely to complain online than satisfied and engaged workers. Often, the best you can do is to just try and communicate with your business to keep workers happy, rather than suppress those complaints and make it look like your company has something to hide. Fortunately, many applicants do understand that a complainer is a complainer and will take their words with a grain of salt.
I'm a creative and passionate HR Director with 15 plus years proven experience up to board level in international and world-class organisations.
I have had the privilege of working on a wide range of projects that have enabled me to apply my leadership and technical skills and I have proven expertise in managing change, business integration and outsourcing, including TUPE/ARD. I am currently looking for my next intellectual and professional challenge.