In my first blog, '7 Great benefits of engaging your staff' I defined employee engagement and explained some of the benefits that can come to a business that puts the effort in and manages to engage with its staff. It isn't easy and requires quite a lot of work to start and initiate but it’s worth it as the benefits to an organisation can be considerable. So below isn't really a “How to engage employees guide” more of a list of how you can improve your employee engagement strategy or start engaging with them.
1. Hire enthusiastic, intelligent staff and encourage them
It really pays to hire enthusiastic, intelligent people not necessarily always those that have great CVs. If your new recruit is enthusiastic and intelligent they should buy into the company’s ethos quickly and be able to learn new skills to do almost any job (within reason) you want them to. It's also a good idea to encourage those employees that are happy and that smile at work. This can be infectious!
2. Use mentoring for every new recruit
One of the ways to make new recruits more comfortable is to give them a buddy or mentor from day one. This means there is someone they can ask questions. Normally a new member of staff can be reluctant to ask what they may see as a daft or silly question of their immediate superior or boss. It also means they feel they can immediately trust someone within the work environment and more quickly get to recognise and learn the organisation’s culture.
3. Increase salaries
There are many studies that show the cost to a business of a high churn rate of staff or recruitment mistakes. So increasing salaries or employee benefits may attract the right staff, reduce churn and associated costs, improve customer satisfaction and ultimately turnover.
4. Keep reminding your employees what your company’s mission and values are
Early on in your company’s journey you should have decided its mission and values. It’s important that you emphasize, once in a while, what your company stands for. People need to be reminded of why they are doing what they're doing. Make sure you keep plugging this message. Have your mission statement up somewhere that the staff can see it frequently. Bring them back to this mission and values with statements like “Remember when you started and we said our mission was...” or “when we started out we decide our mission and values would be X,Y and Z and we've stuck to them and that’s why we are now...”
5. Encourage ideas, innovation & recognize them
Some of the best ideas come from staff. Encourage them to give you ideas at meetings. Set up an anonymous ideas box. If a member of staff does have a great idea that saves the company money, champion and reward them in some way related to the magnitude of the idea, efficiency or saving. Recognise and reward staff for going that extra mile or putting in that extra effort. It may also be worth sitting down and coming up with team engagement ideas.
6. Be personal and remember
If you become personal with your staff it will reinforce their sense of value to the organisation and their well being. I am not saying become best buddies or best friends. What I am advocating is getting to know them a bit more. Track their birthdays and make sure they all receive a Company or Boss’s birthday card. Do the same for work anniversaries. Remember the old adage that quite often it’s not the money you pay them but what they do with the money that counts. So instead of a £50 bonus in someone’s pay packet, a carefully bought bottle of wine or spirits and a bunch of flowers for their partner could have much greater value or kudos.
7. Become good at giving and receiving Feedback
This isn't so easy to do. It’s very easy to get swallowed up in the day to day issues and running of the business and forget to pull someone aside and give them feedback or call someone into your room and ask what they thought of something you have done. Of course, there’s also the fear factor! No one wants to invite the chance of criticism and it’s not always going to be constructive. One answer is to create a template or framework for feedback that your staff can help design and buy into. A constructive feedback system is a powerful driver of employee engagement.
8. Give and Show Respect
The showing of respect to staff, clients and suppliers should be one of the fundamental blocks your organisation is built on. How could you expect respect if you weren't to show any?
9. Delegate and empower your employees
Let your staff start to make decisions. Give them responsibility and let them take charge of aspects of their working lives and their information. Giving them a system that allows them to enter their personal details, view and manage their own absences (by request only) and even their work schedule or shifts (again by application only) can significantly increase their feeling of engagement and well-being towards the company or organisation. Steer away from micromanaging them and appearing not to trust them.
If you want to learn how to become better at delegating, then Keith Tatley has written an in-depth guide to the art of delegation on Timedoctor´s blog.
10. Actively encourage training and learning
Having recruited enthusiastic staff you should ensure that they can progress within the business in terms of knowledge, training and personal development. Know them well enough so that you can challenge and support them if they want to learn and developing their existing or new skills.
11. Provide clarity
Make sure all your employees have clear, well-defined job specifications, contracts and staff manuals. When instructing staff make sure they fully understand the work or tasks you are asking them to complete and document the instructions and their confirmation. Documentation and evidence of understanding is a very useful tool for management as you can keep bringing the staff back to these if there are problems. Staff also benefit because management take the time to ensure understanding and clarity. I am a great believer in taking this idea a little bit further into employee’s contracts and making them two-way contracts. These should clearly set out what you are expecting from your member of staff and what they can expect from you as an employer.
Well, I hear you say, this is all very well in practice but as a SME manager/ director I haven't got the time to put all of this in place! I think I would counter that by saying, like Strategic Planning, any time spent doing this actually saves you a lot more time and effort in the future and improves your grasp on your business and the people within it.
Use a staff management system that allows you to free up some time, removes some of the boring, repetitive and mundane tasks. This means you can have more face to face time with your staff and the discussions can be limited to important information not just chatting about stuff like schedules, booking holidays and timesheets! Now, I wouldn’t recommend creating or installing all of these employee “benefits” all at once, just slowly introduce them and start to measure the benefits and you should see the improvement in employee relations.
Our system, PARiM allows your staff their very own staff portal where they can request absences, see their worksheets, their shifts, keep track of any uniforms or company assets they have, change their personal details themselves and load up copies of their qualifications or training certificates whose expiry you can then track. It’s even cloud based so you can access it wherever you are whenever you want and the staff can do the same!