Simple (and cheap) ways to boost employee engagement

Employee engagement and workplace culture have come dramatically into focus in recent years. How do you better engage staff as a small or growing business?

Some mainstream examples you may have heard of include:

  • Sports Direct - heavily criticised for zero hours contracts
  • Uber– widely circulated video of CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with a driver
  • United Airlines – forcibly removing a passenger from an oversold flight
  • Ryanair – compulsory staff purchases of overpriced uniforms and training

The reasons to focus on culture or employee engagement are simple.

The vast majority of people go to work to do a good job. Employers should ideally provide the conditions for them to do great work. Here is why:

An engaged or motivated employee:

  • is more productive and effective
  • takes less time off sick
  • doesn’t want to leave
  • has a better work/life balance; and
  • does a better job in pleasing your customers!

Happy customers want to work with you more, pay their bills on time, and recommend you to other potential customers. These happy clients lead to a successful business!

Do the examples outlined above make you more or less likely to support those businesses as a consumer?

How do you better engage staff as a small or growing business?

You don’t need big corporate budgets or fancy games rooms. In fact, you can make a huge impact without spending much (if any) money at all. So, here are a few suggestions of quick and easy things that you can try today to leave people feeling valued and appreciated.

Involve people

Ask their opinion on what could help them and what would be meaningful to them.

TIP: Forget job titles and seniority as all opinions are equally valid.

Promote opportunities for charity or volunteering

Show people that you see the value of a wider purpose beyond profit. As an employee, within a business hierarchy, it helps to see ‘the boss’ as human!

Provide recognition and feedback

Let people know when they’ve done a good job. As simple as it sounds, a heartfelt ‘thank you’ goes a long way. If there is a problem, have an open and constructive chat. Help people identify how something could be handled differently in the future – don’t just tell them, explore it collaboratively.

Be honest and transparent

Businesses often keep their targets and results hidden from staff. Be open and connect business results to the work done by your teams. It gives employees a richer understanding of how they contribute and impact on company profits or customer satisfaction.

Empower people

When setting tasks or projects, give people a targeted outcome as opposed to enforcing a rigid way of approaching it. We all think, learn and work differently. Focus people on a great final outcome as opposed to dictating the route people have to take.

Celebrate together

Whether it’s a great business success or a personal milestone, shout about it and enjoy good news together. It shows people that you care and pay attention to what is significant to them.

Drop annual performance reviews

If things are good, they are glossed over and are a waste of time. If things aren’t fantastic, they are a source of worry and stress. Instead opt for regular catch ups on what is and is not working for both parties. By doing this, the emphasis is on improvement and mutual satisfaction.  

These simple things will give you a platform to kickstart some positivity and trust in your workplace. Ask your teams to show some faith, to opt in and collaborate to make the time you spend together at work that little bit more rewarding and engaging. 

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