We all know that we work harder when we feel involved in a particular role or task and when we feel appreciated for our efforts, so you can imagine I wasn't surprised to read the following statistics about employee engagement.
Disengaged workers are costing the UK £44 billion (Dh261.7 billion) in lost productivity every year [Institute of Employment Studies].
Engaged employees take only 2.7 sick days per year compared to the 6.2 days taken by disengaged staff [Gallup].
Good communication, in particular the ability to listen to employees, is the essence of successful employee engagement. Employees want, and need, to feel part of the organisation if they are to make a 100 per cent commitment to it. Understanding company goals and aspirations and contributing to the culture of the organisation gives a new meaning to employee engagement.
The process of engagement should start when a prospective employee is interviewed. Will this applicant be the type of person who is likely to grow within the organisation? Hiring the right people will save you time and effort down the line.
The most formative part of engagement, however, is the induction process. Welcoming a new employee into the company and taking time to explain the ethos of the organisation can mean the difference between success and failure. Ensure that the individual feels part of the culture of the organisation from the first day. Advice from managers and a good two-way dialogue will ensure that new employees are put at ease.
Be aware that feeling isolated is the first step towards disengagement, so getting the best out of any employee means giving them adequate information, training, support and encouragement. Knowing how well he, or she, is doing in a new post is important — it is no good waiting for an annual performance review to tell a new employee if they are under-performing: the process of appraisal needs to be ongoing during the first few months in any new post.
So much for the new employee, but what about engaging with the disenchanted employee who has been with the company for many years? Finding out why the employee feels disengaged is the first question — it may well give clues to issues within the organisation that could affect others as well.
Employee engagement needs to start from the first day, and here are some tips that can make a difference:
Management engagement: Invest in training and ensure that the whole management team from the top to line management are fully engaged. This will then cascade down throughout the organisation.
Increase communications: Be as transparent as possible and don't be afraid to share bad as well as good news. Negative information has a way of leaking out anyway and ill-informed rumours can cause staff morale to plummet without accurate information from the management.
Incentivise performance: When someone in the company is working to the top of their potential, that effort should always be recognised by management in some form.
Feedback: You can introduce an engagement survey or at a performance review, ask the question ‘If you were me, how would you improve morale and engagement within the organisation?'
Accountability: Every employee should be accountable for their own work and if they have to report to many layers of management, they may not feel a sense of ownership for what they do and not have the incentive to improve their working capacity.
Flexibility: No two people are the same or work in the same way. Morale can suffer if employees are required to follow a specific way of working which may not be optimum for them.
None of these recommendations are new. It is all about treating people as people and not as machines. Difficult? No! Frequently introduced? No! Easy to do? A resounding, yes! And what do they cost? Well, this is the best bit — nothing! I think you will like that…
The author is a BBC guest broadcaster and motivational speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management consultancy and her new book, Show Stress Who's Boss! is available in all bookshops.