Five ways to boost employee engagement

Financial stress is one of the main causes of employee disengagement. It is easy to understand how employees who are underpaid and undervalued will be unenthusiastic about going to work and disengaged while they’re there. It goes without saying that properly remunerating employees is a basic step towards strong engagement, but there are more steps employers can take to support their people, writes Monica Watt, Chief Human Resources Officer at ELMO.

Employers have never had to compete with so many distractions as they do now. In fact, it is estimated that each and every person is exposed to between 6,000 to 10,000 advertisements a day. People are so good at sourcing and consuming content that we are becoming information obese. The content overload is real, and people struggle to apply it, to the point it is distracting people’s lives. That’s a lot of noise for employers to compete against to keep their people focused, engaged and on the task at work. Although it has never been harder to maintain engagement it’s also never been more important with employers needing to make sure every employee is achieving their goals.

Businesses cannot afford employee disengagement
Lack of motivation and satisfaction can cost organisations millions of dollars a year due to lost productivity, high staff turnover rates and low business performance. It’s critical that HR teams effectively manage workplace culture and practice to encourage employees to be more engaged and productive. Organisations with enthusiastic teams tend to perform strongly, managers are respected by staff and are on average 21 per cent more profitable.

In the age of COVID-19 and work from home, employee engagement has never been trickier to achieve, yet more critical for business success. The recent economic downturn highlights why businesses must ensure their employees are treated as their most valuable assets. Good business leaders have leveraged the individual strength of people to make the change to remote working successful that people became productive creatively. It is only with a committed and loyal workforce that firms stand a chance against disruption and can emerge unscathed into the post-pandemic world.

No matter if an employee is a superstar or rockstar you must be talking with all employees to find their aspirations. Seeking employee feedback on their current role, opportunities to innovate or share insights is critical for the business and the employee to evolve.

Five steps to a happier, more productive workforce
Thankfully the answers to increased engagement and giving unhappy workers a reason to look forward to going to work and into the office are relatively straightforward. Before delving into the five steps, let’s talk about communication. A business and leaders can never have enough communication channels. Building habits around giving and receiving feedback and sharing knowledge is a sure way to provide clarity and purpose to everyone in real time.

Now let’s jump to the five steps to a happier, more productive workforce.

Recognise stressors outside work
Financial stress is one of the main causes of employee disengagement. It is easy to understand how employees who are underpaid and undervalued will be unenthusiastic about going to work and disengaged while they’re there. It goes without saying that properly remunerating employees is a basic step towards strong engagement, but there are more steps employers can take to support their people. If a staff member is experiencing financial stress or struggles with financial literacy offering ‘learning lunches’ to upskill people on budgeting and finance can be a step to take. Recognising and seeking to alleviate outside stressors are an important way to help keep people focused and committed while working.

Recruit based on attitude. Not just aptitude
While someone may be the most qualified candidate with the best on-paper resume that doesn’t mean they’ll be the best person for the job or the organisation. Each employee can either contribute or detract from the culture in an organisation. By having recruitment processes in place that take attitude, emotional intelligence, and transferable skills into consideration can help ensure the right candidates are recruited.

Make new hires feel valued from day one
If a new employee feels unvalued, overwhelmed, bored or confused about their position they are at risk of early resignation. In fact, 20 per cent of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of an employee’s tenure. Repeated recruitment costs as well increased pressure on existing teams that are forced to pick up additional work can become major headaches for organisations. With a structured and supportive onboarding process, with clear and concise feedback new employees are 58 per cent more likely to stay with their employer over the long term.

In the age of COVID-19 and work from home, employee engagement has never been trickier to achieve, yet more critical for business success. The recent economic downturn highlights why businesses must ensure their employees are treated as their most valuable assets.

Motivate workers with skills development, feedback and career growth
Businesses must foster talent from within by giving every employee clear and direct support for skills development and career growth. No matter if an employee is a superstar or rockstar you must be talking with all employees to find their aspirations. Seeking employee feedback on their current role, opportunities to innovate or share insights is critical for the business and the employee to evolve. No employee wants to feel as if they are stuck in a ‘dead-end’ role. Providing opportunities beyond their day-to-day role is a great way to ensure employees don’t feel this way. Employee satisfaction can easily be raised by meaningful training and development as well as through regular, clear, positive and constructive feedback.

Create a healthy, positive and nurturing culture
As many as 38 per cent of workers feel overwhelmed by their jobs, a startling fact that is contributing to increased rates of burnout and absenteeism. Poor rostering practice and a lack of opportunity for workers to feedback on their satisfaction levels are common contributors to employee stress. In order to reduce this, employers should consider:

  • Effective rostering that automates scheduling and uses time tracking software to ensure that people aren’t working excessively and burning out
  • Online Surveys to ensure employees are able to provide regular feedback that can be acted on swiftly by managers

In the end, it is up to the employer to ensure all staff are completely behind the company they work for. This starts with clarity in the company’s purpose, what can be expected and followed up with giving all the information, support and tools required to do the best job they can. When employees are respected and treated well, they will be happy. When employees are happy, the business will thrive.

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