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As a fast-growing tech brand we’re always on the lookout for new talent to join our team. Once you get over the initial hurdle of recruiting people who are a great fit for the company, the challenge comes later – in retaining a happy and engaged workforce.
To run a successful business in today’s economy, you have to fight to stand out and win your share of the market. This means companies spend a large proportion of time, effort and budget on external branding and marketing. With so much emphasis placed on reputation building, it can be easy to neglect the internal side to the business and the people who work within it.
There is no one-size-fits-all handbook for employee engagement. Yet it's a business strategy that’s worth the investment in time and effort. High employee engagement can lead to increased efficiency, a growth in revenue and reduced staff turnover – all appealing by-products of a happy workforce.
What’s more is that as a nation there is potential for us to be doing it a lot better. A recent global survey found that just 65% of UK employees feel engaged. This puts us below par on the global stage and a long way behind nations such as Austria (76%), Spain (72%) and the United States (72%).
Here is what we’ve learnt about employee engagement from working with our growing team over the past three years.
Transparency is key
Transparent leadership means equipping your employees with an understanding of the company vision and an appreciation of how their efforts help the business to meet its objectives.
Company-wide transparency means problems are solved faster. By being upfront and honest about any issues as they arise, employees can help solve them. This means senior leadership have more brains on board when it comes to making tough decisions and it keeps employees involved and informed.
Put simply, without your employees you wouldn’t have a business. Think about how best to work with all departments and members of staff to engage everyone. Getting to grips with your workforce means taking a look at the big picture and seeking to understand everyone’s role within it.
When growing your business it can be hard to take a step back. If you’ve been with the business from day one it's particularly difficult.
At Ziffit our operation requires us to employ people in a whole range of roles. Staff could be required to fill roles in the warehouse, the marketing department, within our IT and customer services departments – the list goes on. This means listening to each different team and department. The marketing team could not run without valuable feedback from the customer services or IT department and vice versa. If we need advice about how consumers will engage with a new social media competition or new app function we run it past our employees first.
It’s also worth inviting your employees to join strategy and planning sessions and offer feedback. Nine times out of 10 they will be closer to the day-to-day stuff than you. Frontline information is invaluable, whether it’s about customer reactions to the latest website update, or internal insight about an unexpected resignation.
Trust your employees
When starting or growing your business it can be hard to take a step back and devolve responsibility to others. If you’ve been with the business from day one, this can prove particularly difficult.
But, whether you like it or not, this is a key step in growing any business. Try as you might there reaches a point where it simply isn’t sustainable to do all the work yourself. This is where your team comes in. While it might seem like hiring will leave you inundated with managerial responsibilities and a mounting workload, if done right it can help your business flourish. If you want to motivate your employees, you have to trust them to make decisions and take full ownership of projects or tasks. Work becomes fulfilling when you are accountable, your employees do not come to work purely for the money. The more responsibility and trust you give people the more immersed and engaged they become.
Go back to basics
As your company begins to scale, new people will join and your workforce will begin to expand. Sometimes this expansion is planned in advance and other times it is a necessary reaction to a period of rapid growth, such as a glut of sales from a flash sale or new marketing strategy.
It’s vital that during periods of change, whether planned or not, you reinforce the core culture and values that your company started with. Your business culture is often what attracts people to your company, and it certainly goes a long way in retaining and engaging people.
In happy, successful workplaces a company’s shared values and cultural pillars are integrated in everything that is done. There are a number of easy, cost effective ways to make sure new staff understand your company’s core values. This could be a simple as developing a staff handbook for new recruits or incorporating it as an aspect of their initial training.
I know from experience that working with an engaged and motivated team can help significantly grow your business, and help you prepare for any changes that arise as a result of scaling.