The British Chambers of Commerce, OECD and many others (including the Bank of England) have each published data recently suggesting our economy is on the up. Great news, but this also brings new challenges for business owners like you and I.
Our recent recession and economic downturn has been described as the worst in living memory. Focus has been on pruning costs, achieving damage limitation and battening down the hatches. In times of trouble, survival is all that matters.
My research shows that engagement levels of employees in most organisations have dropped in recent years – although this trend was bucked by the highest performing companies. Engagement levels dropped when employees felt insecure as business demands placed extra pressure. This led to relationships becoming strained as behaviours of some managers and other employees became more extreme. Levels of trust fell.
So how do you build up engagement levels?
First of all it is necessary to understand that engagement is not about employee satisfaction or happiness. Instead, engagement is all about how employees and managers at all levels feel emotionally about their employer. Do they act as ambassadors and advocates or more like detractors or even ‘terrorists’? At a party do they say how proud they are to work for your company or do they deny, lie or avoid the topic?
It is important to benchmark where your levels of engagement are. This employee feedback can be achieved by holding workshops or confidential and user-friendly surveys. These can be designed specifically to fit your organisation’s needs. Such surveys are now surprisingly low cost for SMEs.
The next stage is to fully understand what your data is telling you. The most effective surveys are those that provide not only quantitative data (i.e. numbers, percentages etc.) but qualitative information too (i.e. verbatim comments). Look for themes rather than focus on the detail.
Your employees will be anxious to see the results of the survey. Therefore publishing and communicating them well is essential. Ensure your results are shared with a context e.g. explaining the journey your company is on, recent history and future opportunities. Involve your employees to create realistic action plans to build on successes, address issues and then commit to follow up. Demonstrating action is essential – otherwise your credibility will drop like a stone.
It’s worth remembering that employee engagement takes time to build. But it’s well worth paying attention to. Research states that companies and organisations with the highest levels of engagement achieve increased productivity, higher levels of customer advocacy amongst their employees and increased profitability. Those employers who do less well have higher absenteeism, higher turnover and poorer health and safety records.
So make sure you and your team are ready for our economic take-off. Take time to find out how they are thinking and feeling about your company so they can give you the lift you need. If you don’t, you may be spending more time on the runway than you can afford.
For more information on our low cost yet high value employee engagement surveys for SMEs please contact Paul Beesley on 01604.212505 or paul.beyondtheory.co.uk or visit our employee engagement surveys page.
Beyond Theory is proud to be a member of Engage for Success.