News & Events

Insights • 07-09-2019


Employee engagement ties together and measures your peoples’ passion for their jobs, their commitment to your business’s purpose and values, and their levels of motivation and effort.

The root of engagement is a clearly defined purpose – a shared vision that binds your people together energizes them and creates a genuine feeling of belonging and being valued. We delved deeper into how to improve employee engagement.

It’s not about sensitivity. It’s about productivity

Engagement analysts and advisors, Gallup, found that engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. That’s because high levels of engagement are directly linked to higher productivity, increased customer satisfaction, and lower staff turnover rates.

Engaged employees are happier than they’re disengaged counterparts, both inside the workplace and out. But don’t mistake happiness for engagement – it’s only one element. An individual can be ‘happy’ with their job if their workload is low and they’re breezing through each day with minimal effort. Or they might be ‘happy’ if you plonk a ping-pong table down in the office. But that won’t act as a stand-alone catalyst for their work, they won’t be committed, and you won’t experience the above benefits to anywhere near the same extent.

How can your organization improve employee engagement?

Define your goals

Make sure your people know exactly what they’re engaged to. Start by defining your purpose and your values in a crystal-clear fashion. In doing so, make sure you appreciate that your people are the key to creating the incredible client experience that will guarantee your success. Too often, business’s purposes are weighted heavily (and sometimes exclusively) towards what they provide for customers. They lose sight of their people’s role in everything they do, and they miss the opportunity to unite them in a collective push for common goals.

“Find and develop likeminded people that share your values”

That’s the ethos of Chris Hill, CEO of The New World Trading Company. He spoke in detail at our Culture Carnival about how they’ve successfully engaged 1500 people, split across 26 locations, and made it into the Top 10 of The Sunday Times Best Companies list for three years running. How’s that for credibility?

For him, engagement starts with hard work and patience during the recruitment stage. If your business was a person, what would they be like? How would you define their personality? From there, recruit people who show the same traits. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals, those that understand and share your passions and your drivers.

Recruitment, alongside training and treating people fairly every day, is one of Chris’ ‘basics’, and they pave the way for his more eye-catching engagement methods. These include splitting New World Trading Company into six ‘Tribes’; teams who compete in monthly, high-adrenaline challenges like Total Wipeout and Ninja Warrior.

Frequent feedback

Constantly get your people’s feedback and suggestions – it’s the only way you’ll shape and adapt your business to their specific needs. Doing an annual survey like Best Companies isn’t enough on its own. You need to monitor progression, engagement, and happiness constantly. Keep the feedback loop open, and let your people know that you want to hear their voice and their opinions every day of the year.

You’ll see peaks. You’ll see troughs. But as long as you create a medium for your people to submit their comments (anonymously if they wish), you’ll always be learning and flexing your business to increase engagement.

Put your people first

Sounds obvious, right? But are you making your people feel valued? Start with the basics:

  • Provide the right tools and systems for your people

Create an efficient environment for them to work in, characterized by up to date, reliable processes. Nothing gets frustration bubbling like operational sticking points, and if you don’t iron out the issues, you best believe your competitors will.

  • Offer and encourage flexible work patterns

Show that you trust your people and give them the ability to work whenever, wherever and however suits them best. Chances are when you take off the 9-5 shackles, you’ll see big benefits when it comes to productivity, alongside an inevitable increase in employee engagement and loyalty.

  • Give your people individual attention

Arrange regular one-to-ones with their line managers and maintain continuous two-way feedback. For many, this will be the perfect way to boost their engagement and development. And for those who don’t benefit from these meetings, it’s your chance to learn more about them so you can adapt and improve your approach with these individuals going forward.

  • Prioritize Learning & Development (L&D)

A lack of training and room for growth are often defining factors in people’s decisions to search for a job elsewhere. Make sure your offering appeals and caters to all styles of learning through a breadth of formats including interactive workshops, podcasts, articles or online courses. And make sure they’re accessible to all your people, especially those that may be working away from the office or at other locations.

  • Play to your strengths

Businesses that make sure their people are in roles that let them use their strengths enjoy 38% higher productivity and 50% lower turnover. If you don’t have a crystal-clear idea of what your people’s strengths are, conversations or surveys such as Gallup’s Strengths Finder would be the perfect place to start.

  • Recognize and reward success

If something great happens; shout about it. Create a culture where no success goes uncelebrated, and show your appreciation with non-monetary rewards and shout-outs.

What are some of the challenges?

According to Gallup, 85% of employees aren’t engaged at work. Over a quarter of employees are at a high risk of turnover. And research by Glassdoor found that 53% of people thought they’d find a comparable job within six months if they were to quit their current role. For a business owner, they’re some pretty daunting numbers.

For many of you, the issue of teams split across multiple locations is thrown into the mix too. You’ll need to work out how to engage, motivate and reward these teams in a fair, consistent manner.

And then there’s your current culture and engagement levels to consider. You might be dealing with a lack of motivation, high turnover rates or an underlying distrust of management. The above changes could be a radical step for you, and they might be viewed as radical by your people, but ultimately, they’ll be worth it. And that’s backed up by the stats on culture and engagement. Time and time again.

Engage excellence

It’s difficult to put the importance of employee engagement into words. It’s an energy that pulses through your business. The root of vitality, happiness, and success. And as more and more businesses open their eyes to how crucial a role it plays in their future, now’s the time to ask: are you doing all you can to engage your people?

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