Prioritising Employee Enagement
The importance of an engaged workforce and how to drive employee engagement
Gallup’s 2022 ‘State of the workforce’ report states just 9% of UK workers surveyed felt enthused by their workplace. This is well below the European average of 14%, with the UK ranking 33 out of the 38 European countries surveyed.
Why does employee engagement matter?
According to Gartner research*, “Employees working in high fairness environments perform at a level 26% higher than those that don’t”, and teams with thriving workforces see significantly lower absenteeism and resignations, as well as higher customer loyalty.
However, the same Gartner report identifies that “just 18% of employees said they work in a high fairness environment and have an employee experience that is characterised as fair”, which demonstrates that there is still a long way to go in developing experience strategies that engage employees.
How do you drive employee engagement?
Before looking at ways to increase engagement, it’s important to ensure you are measuring it. Employee surveys or questionnaires are great ways to gather feedback about how employees are feeling on a day-to-day basis, as well as how they feel about the company as a whole. Surveys and questionnaires should be designed to encourage open feedback and may include the use of sliding scales, multiple choice or open-ended questions, as well as face to face or group sessions. Although you should be mindful that employees may not be as open in a face to face or group setting. You should also consider how often you want to measure engagement.
The output of your employee engagement survey will identify your key drivers for engagement. Based on our experience of working with clients across a range of sectors, 5 ways you could improve engagement are:
- Define and communicate a clear vision for the company and ensuring this is cascaded down. As leaders and managers play an important role in engagement, it’s important that the actions of the leadership team are seen to be consistent with the vision. By having managers who are invested in the vision with clear understanding what it means and the tools and resources to have the right people, in the right roles, they can empower their teams to work towards that vision
- Ensure your employees have clear understanding of what is expected of them and are given regular feedback. Feeling valued and recognised for the work they do, is a clear driver for employee engagement
- Consider career pathways and progression. If employees feel there is nowhere for them to progress to, this can lead to demotivation and reduced engagement, as well as higher rates of attrition
- Give employees proper training and development to enable them to do their roles. The type of training and method of delivery will differ drastically between roles but ensuring employees feel confident and supported with the right tools, will increase job satisfaction and engagement
- Act on the feedback you receive. Requesting feedback from employees and not taking action can erode confidence in the process. It’s important that any feedback taken is acted on appropriately and that the output of engagement surveys as well as key areas for improvement and action plans are shared and acted on.
How has the impact of Covid affected engagement?
The impact of Covid on ways of working has permanently shifted drivers for engagement.
You may be surprised to learn that according to People Insight, data gathered from employee surveys ran from April to September 2020, showed engagement was up by 7% on the previous 6 months. Based on the responses, the uplift was attributed to factors such as an increased focus on wellbeing (physical and mental), informal, frequent and heartfelt messages from senior leaders, efforts to listen to employees and providing technology to enable people to work flexibly. As we transition our business models to the new future of work post Covid, here are some steps you can take to harness and drive engagement:
- Maintain hybrid working if this has proven to be effective. With the pandemic proving that working from home is possible for many more roles than had ever been considered before, employers now need to offer greater flexibility to employees. Those who feel supported and have a good work-life balance are more likely to be engaged, so continue to keep the conversation open with employees regarding their personal circumstances.
- Maintain the focus on wellbeing. Health and wellbeing awareness was attributed to the increased engagement reported by People Insight, so this needs to remain a focus for employee engagement going forward. As colleagues return to the office, monitor the impact this may have on them and check in regularly. Similarly, if you have employees who are continuing to work from home, ensure you have regular touch points with them and assess how they are feeling. If you’ve had a large number of employees returning after a prolonged period of furlough, you should consider the impact this may have on their transition back to fulltime work, so provide support and recognise that they may be at greater risk of burnout.
- If employees are working from home, consider ways they can interact and feel part of a community and not isolated. Examples of this could be team meetings, virtual coffee breaks, team quizzes and celebrating birthdays.
- Don’t lose focus on career development. For many businesses during Covid, career development was deprioritised due to new focuses and operating with a reduced workforce. Yet we know that employees feeling their career aspirations are being met is one of the strongest drivers of engagement. Now is the time to review your focus on coaching, training, feedback and development planning.
- Be clear with employees on the business plans moving forward. Many businesses had to make hard-hitting decisions during Covid. If your business has been through significant change, employees will be left feeling fearful about their role, or guilty if other colleagues have faced redundancy. Consider how you can alleviate the concerns through a clear vision of the future plans for the business and ensuring managers are visible, approachable and informed so that they can build trust and credibility. Managers who are able to effectively deal with change and the aftermath will help to keep the remaining employees engaged.
At AdviserPlus we have a proven track record in transforming HR and empowering line managers to enable them to have the right conversations with employees, to find out how we can help you, get in touch.