The UK is now one of the fastest growing western economies. Unemployment in the 3 months to the end of May has fallen to a 5 year low. This is good news, especially if these new jobs are good, long term sustainable jobs in growing profitable industries. However, latest labour market reports suggest that plans for job creation are tentative and that there is a ‘productivity hangover’ affecting the UK economy. Tore Haggren, Senior Vice President at Confirmit, explains what's going on and gives advice on how to motivate and keep your staff in this situation.
What's the issue?
After so long in the doldrums, news that the UK economy is growing at its fastest rate since 2007 and that a record number of people are now in work is hugely welcome. A healthy economy normally signals greater movement of individuals confident of their ability to secure new positions and fewer redundancies to control costs.
However, the latest CIPD Labour Market Outlook (Feb 2014) suggests that plans for job creation are tentative and that there is a ‘productivity hangover’ affecting the UK economy. Clearly the challenge for employers who cannot offer above the line pay rises in 2014 is how to motivate staff to work harder without any increase in their pay and benefits and how to encourage staff not look elsewhere for a better deal.
Solution - employee engagement
Fortunately there was growing recognition last year amongst C-Level executives that improving employee participation could offer a tangible solution to this problem as a cross-enterprise strategy to drive business success. They have found that linking employee engagement to customer experience, customer engagement and business performance can have a real impact on the bottom line.
In spite of this, companies are often unaware of the issues that can impact employee engagement and cause employees to underperform or walk out of the door because they don’t ask. Annual appraisals and employee engagement surveys are part of the solution, but a much more dynamic, ongoing approach is needed for modern business. The only way to find out what motivates and demotivates an individual before it’s too late is to ask for feedback throughout the year, so that businesses can take action and measure results along the way.
Why are involved employees important?
The simple fact is that loyal and engaged employees forge deeper and longer lasting relationships with customers, which has a significant impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty and therefore spend. What other perks are there to having an engaged workforce?
The model below by Talent Keepers highlights the elements of developing and maintaining and the outcomes of an engaged workforce.
Clearly, if companies want to proactively address these issues they need take a much more holistic approach to managing the employee lifecycle. Pulse programmes that survey employees at key stages in the employee lifecycle are far more likely to identify training needs, set goals for cyclical appraisals and reward attainment, and flag any issues with team members and line managers that might hinder performance or encourage an individual to seek work elsewhere.
Tips for employee engagement
What this means in practical terms for companies that want to harness the Voice of the Employee is they need to find out what motivates their staff, what matters most to them and which changes will have the greatest impact on retention and productivity overall.
Keep the following tips top of mind:
- Survey employees at scheduled intervals or in real time as service interactions and lifecycle events take place.
- Use this ongoing stream of data to find out if new ways of working, changing job responsibilities, skill development and certain rewards and benefits are helping to motivate employees to be more productive or to seek internal promotion, for example.
- Link employee engagement with customer engagement, and use real-life example to show employees how their actions impact customers. Understanding the importance of their role in the wider business can be more incentivising than pay increases.
- Engage employees in the process of improving their working environment and developing corporate goals in order to foster a sense of participation and ownership which should lead to increased commitment and loyalty.
- Analyse feedback from employees to identify individual concerns but also to highlight wider trends. Use hard data to pinpoint the most important issues and target the changes that translate into lower dissatisfaction rates and higher retention rates so that you know how much to invest in making improvements.
- As you implement changes, quantify the impact of your efforts through follow-up surveys to ensure that improvements are motivating employees and helping you to achieve short and medium-term company goals.
It’s this concerted effort to measure the relationship between engagement, participation, retention, investment and profitable growth that will help companies shake off the productivity hangover and keep valued team members within the fold.
At PARiM we wholeheartedly agree with the concept above that good employee engagement can drive good customer service. Indeed one of the founding concepts of our workforce management system, even before we started to build it, was the improvement of employee involvement, reducing communication barriers and efficient intercompany communication because we think they are vital to long term business success.
PARiM workforce software also aims to improve a company’s staff engagement and participation by allowing them to see their work schedule online whenever and wherever they are, to receive automated communication informing them of their work or shifts and allowing them to apply for shifts and holidays (subject to approval). PARiM aims to minimise the time taken with mundane administrative tasks allowing more face to face employee management time.