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Employee Engagement

Five easy ways to increase employee engagement (and why you need to)

Written by Brett Stephenson
Sep 6

It doesn’t take the cognitive ability of rocket scientist to make the connection between the level of employee engagement and organisational performance.  After all, if your staff are less than enthusiastic about their work, meeting goals and objectives becomes a slog, which has an unfortunate knock-on effect on your bottom line. And if you’re of the opinion that employee engagement is the least of your worries, consider the following: in the Global Workforce Survey 2005, conducted by Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson), and involving 85 000 people, only 14% of all worldwide employees are highly engaged in their work. In other words, it’s not an understatement that staff around the world are unenthused about their day jobs.

The good news is, facilitating a workplace and company culture that boosts employee engagement doesn’t have to be akin to herding a clutter of (feral) cats. What this task does call for, however, is the ability to find out what your employees require to be truly engaged, and then implementing processes that facilitate this. Before we get on to the most effective ways of boosting employee engagement, it’s helpful to determine what a truly engaged employee looks like. The Ivey Business Journal defines employee engagement as staff who are both “emotionally connected to the organization and cognitively vigilant.” That said, an engaged employee in an accounting firm will look very different from an engaged employee on a showroom floor. This highlights the importance of defining your own version of the term, as the type of business you run, as well as your unique business objectives, will dictate what your specific ‘brand’ of employee engagement looks and feels like. And if this sounds like a lot of work, The Ivey Business Journal goes on to cite findings from a study by New Century Financial Corporation that might help you to embrace your employee engagement efforts: employee engagement does not merely correlate with bottom line results – it drives results. Now that you’re ready to get your employees fired up, here’s how to go about it:

1. Make it explicitly clear that you value your employees.

And we’re not just talking about flaunting your thanks in the form of an open bar every second  month. Taking the time out to acknowledge, and reward the contribution of staff members is an easy yet effective way to encourage engagement.  The trick to this tactic, like many aspects of business, relies on relationships. If your leadership style tends to err on the side of dictatorship, and the mere sight of you walking into the office results in bowed heads and the donning of earphones, you need to work on your attitude before you can improve those of your staff. Whether your way of demonstrating your appreciation consists of a ‘thank-you’ Post-it note, or a weekly informal catch up, or bonus leave for top-performing employees, make sure to prioritise regular communication on a one-to-one basis.

2. Clear-cut goals and expectations give employees a defined parameter in which to measure their performance.

If you’re not crystal clear about your department or company’s definition of sub-par and above-average performance, your employees will be that much more likely to merely ‘go through the motions’. Setting out measurable goals, like Key Performance Indicators, for example – on a team and individual level – gives staff something concrete to work towards. After all, if they don’t know what constitutes as outstanding performance, they’ll have no initiative to achieve it. One way to keep employees on track, so to speak, is by giving them feedback. Constructive criticism and praise (when it’s due) go a long way in conveying a very important sentiment: that their contribution is noticed, and that it’s having an impact (whether positive or negative) on the performance of the business as a whole.

3. Grant employees a certain degree of autonomy

Being aware of, and being flexible around, the individual needs of staff has a positive effect on employee engagement levels. For example, if one of your staff members is a single mother, offering her the option to work flexi-time, to allow her to drop off and collect her child from playschool, demonstrates that you value her contribution, and are therefore willing to accommodate her needs.

4. Give employees a say in how decisions are made.

Fostering a culture of collaboration, as well as one of mutual respect, is vital if you want to facilitate employee engagement. One powerful way to demonstrate the fact that you value not only the contributions of your staff, but their input too, is by giving them a platform and opportunity to air their opinions. Having regular staff feedback meetings, or asking for their input on certain decisions whether regarding a new office layout or an idea for a marketing campaign is a relatively pain free way to communicate that their input is valued and appreciated.

5. Equip employees with the tools that they need to flourish.

If you want your staff to perform, you need to provide them with both an environment that’s conducive to optimal performance, as well as the tools that can assist them in doing their jobs to the best of their ability. Like many aspects of employee engagement, this will depend on your particular industry. One of the ways to accomplish this is by utilising smart data gathering tools such as people counters. If you work in the retail industry, for example, implementing retail people counters can provide your team with crucial insight needed to optimise their operations.

If you want to help your staff meet their targets, increase efficiency and become valuable contributors to the success of your business, find out about how our retail people counters can help, find out more about Blix Traffic store performance here.

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