Why all the fuss over staff engagement?

Written by
Changeboard Team

05 Aug 2010

05 Aug 2010 • by Changeboard Team

Staff engagement. What are the warning signs?

Staff engagement is an integral issue for all organisations, because employees are frequently considered to be an organisations greatest asset and overhead. Similarly, on a personal level it is more fulfilling to work in an environment where people are engaged by their jobs, and there is an emotional connection between co-workers.

People who are engaged can be characterised as being more productive, more profitable, better at customer service, and less likely to seek new employment. According to a Lancaster University study disengaged employees are 88% more likely to leave their job and on average have far higher levels of absenteeism.

A lack of engagement tends to increase gradually, the following signs are good indicators of a lack of engagement:

  • A high staff turnover rate
  • Low productivity and morale
  • Lack of cooperation between staff or departments
  • Absenteeism is common, or becoming increasingly so
  • Punctuality is a problem
  • Miscommunication is happening frequently

Do incentives outweigh salary?

Studies have shown that contrary to popular belief salary is often not the main motivating factor for employees. Instead the evidence points to the importance of being able to achieve a good work/life balance as issues such as working hours, benefit packages and team rewards often have a bigger impact on engagement and motivation.

The reasons behind this are numerous, but additional Benefits often have such a positive effect as they are more openly discussed than salary. Open discussion is important because it makes the motives behind the additional Benefits clear.

Similarly factors that help people achieve a strong work/life balance are often heavily weighed up when people seek new employment. Ensuring that your staff feel that a degree of flexibility is on offer to maintain a healthy work/life balance will help contribute to a greater level of engagement. For example, where possible, being flexible with working hours will help a promote a sense of loyalty as employees who feel that an organisation has their best interests at heart are more likely to go above and beyond what is expected of them. By tapping into how best to reward staff you can effectively keep staff engaged and motivated which ultimately leads to hard work and higher achievements for your organisation.

Why is communication so important?

Good communication is vital in many areas of business, and staff engagement is no exception. Having a culture of strong communication across all levels of the company stops people feeling out of the loop, making false assumptions and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

There are several areas where this is particularly useful, firstly it's important that communication between management and their staff is clear as this stops resentment building up due to inconsistent or unclear messages, a strong management style helps to encourage trust and employee engagement. One of most powerful drivers behind good employee engagement is unequivocally the quality of dialogue with leadership. Yet studies in the UK conclude that more than 50% of employees feel that their manager does not have time for them (Lancaster University Study).

There are several steps that managers can take to help ensure that employees stay engaged. These include having regular objective review meetings and performance appraisals because they highlight the personal Benefits and goals of the employee and can be tailored to individual needs.

Regular feedback and dialogue with superiors is also very important to employees. Feedback is the key to giving employees a sense of where theyre going, but many organisations are remarkably bad at giving it. To give good feedback it is best to keep it specific. Management training courses can be very useful for managers to learn the best practices to employ to support their staff. Coaching conversations are also a helpful tool because they provide an excellent time to enter into informal, honest dialogue. Managers should be using a wide range of techniques to communicate with employees and to help keep them engaged.

It is also very useful to communicate praise effectively when staff members have worked especially well. Positive reinforcement helps foster motivation and engagement. Praise is also one of the simplest and most successful ways to reward good work. For staff the Benefits are clear, everyone appreciates it when their hard work is noticed, taking the time to comment on it can help boost their motivation to continue working to a similar level, and overall happiness within the company.

Increased staff productivity and loyalty

Staff engagement and motivation are clearly important issues, if they are understood and utilised they can have a very positive impact for companies who will see increased productivity and loyalty of staff.

Overall it can be said that employees need to try to understand the needs and expectations of their staff in order to keep them engaged. The suggestions in this article should be used as a starting point, the more personalised the approach the better, as this allows you to address peoples individual needs. Ultimately for employees being engaged is the difference between seeing your work as a job or as a career and an opportunity to grow.