When our marketing team asked me to discuss what makes an engaged workforce, I instantly knew that I wanted to address the misconception that employee engagement is something reserved solely for internal communications.
It’s a topic that comes up in a lot of conversations around our office.
Having an email doesn’t mean your employees are connected or that you have an engaged workforce.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, turnover is the highest in industries like trade, utilities, construction, retail, customer service and hospitality.
It’s a great first step to recognize that there’s a problem. However, it’s not always easy to identify what’s at the root of the ‘turnover crisis’. After working in different industries and getting several companies off the ground and to a successful start, I’ve realized, along with many other professionals, that it’s all about employee engagement.
Many assume that engagement is mostly talking with employees about what’s happening. Engagement is a tricky thing, though. Communication is only a small part of the overall process of having an engaged workforce and doesn’t solve the problem of poor engagement.
Your engaged workforce issues might be caused by unmet needs
It’s no secret that we’re going through a period of changing workplaces and workforces, each with different ideas of how companies should interact with them.
Ed Boyle and Anna Maria Mann summarized some of Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace survey for WORKPLACE:
- Employees are advocating for newer, more flexible company structuring.
- New technology isn’t just changing how work is done – it’s also affecting how employees perform and where they may work best.
- Expectations are transforming. Everyone now has a different attitude towards what a job should be like and what kind of work it should entail.
And, perhaps my favourite line of the piece: “The report reveals an unsettling pattern in the U.S. workplace, one that leaders need to respond to if they want to get the most out of their workforce. The one thing leaders cannot do is nothing.” This is a big take-home for those who want an engaged workforce.
An engaged workforce increases productivity and sales, it’s backed by strong research: Gallup, again, states that engaged companies outperform the opposite by 20%, with 10% better results in customer ratings and a 20% bump in sales.
‘My employees stay because of what they can offer; not because of what they’re getting.’
At the end of the day, a disconnected and disengaged workforce is just not productive, but I want my employees to stay because of what they can offer; not because of what they’re getting.
What do I mean by that? Not all companies want or need a ‘start-up culture’ with beanbags, La-Z-Boys, pin-ball machines and granola served in reusable containers. *No disrespect to anyone who can offer those kind of perks*
Are employees able to talk? That’s a large part of what engaged employees prize. Speaking with one another, communicating with (not to) management and having an interconnectivity.
What they really want is to know that their work is having an impact. It’s encouraging to know that what you’re contributing is making a meaningful difference and that it’s part of ‘the bigger picture’ or a collaborative team effort.
Knowing what the company’s endgame and current objectives are will keep anyone aligned and engaged.
Think of it like a team sport: if the defence doesn’t know the play, where will the team be at the end of the period? Everyone needs, and wants, to know their role.
This quote really resonates with me:
“Employees spend more waking hours with their co-workers than they do with their own families. So, the fact that employee engagement continues to be of growing importance to them is no surprise. Employee engagement is a proxy to how committed your workforce is, not only to their jobs but your company overall.
In the past, companies were able to get by without considering how connected (or not connected) employees were to their mission, values and overall goals. Today, it’s a different story… They want to know that there is a shared value system – a true, authentic connection.” –
An engaged workforce needs tools beyond communication
I’ve found that engagement isn’t just communicating. That’s a big part of it, sure, but there’s so much more.
Everyone wants to know what they’re walking into when they come to work. What’s offered, how they can use the resources and tools at their disposal. Do they have enough training? Will they? Or is there too much available?
From recruitment to their eventual exit from their place of work, employees dedicate most of their lives to their work. So, why not make the onboarding, development and retention phases the best they can be for them?
Encourage them to do something ‘better’ during their time with you. Enable them to. They’re the most important part of your company at the end of the day, so deserve all the support you can give them.
Everyone wants to be good at what they do – so why not encourage them and engage them to be and do just that?
Championing digital transformation as a means to employee engagement
As leaders, it is time to aim our resources at digital transformation.
With new technologies readily available and new software making waves every other day, there’s no shortage of solutions for employee engagement. I’ll admit my bias here: company branded apps hold the key. How? Employee apps integrate how employees already use their phones and devices, with how we get our work done.
Think about how a digital transformation initiative and employee engagement apps can work to change your workforce:
- Transform the ways employees can work
- Rethink your organizational structures – it’s time to ensure that they line up with structures that prioritize adapting digitally.
- Improve services for both employees and customers, boosting the efficiency of the whole workplace.
- Prioritize the employee. Give them online tools to succeed and add value to what they do – it begins and ends with the employee.