Typically, people will spend around 40 hours a week at work, and aside from the hours that are spent at the desk, in the warehouse or liaising with customers, there is then the time spent preparing for and commuting to work – plus any additional hours spent working from home. Now imagine investing in and contributing towards a business that doesn’t seem to recognise your contributions or value your commitment as an employee.
People aren’t robots; cultures built on rigid practices, distrust and fear will drive employees to become disengaged, detached, and begin seeking out other opportunities. A culture that empowers its employees is far more likely to engage them, and engaged people naturally become leaders. This isn’t to suggest that you must work to make every member of staff a manager of their own division, but rather that by engineering an environment where people are actively engaged, you will be encouraging employees to take responsibility for their workload, work with conviction and set a good example for others as a direct result of their behaviour and attitude to work. This is the year to make retaining your existing employees your talent management priority, and you will achieve this through the implementation of a well-planned and well executed EVP and Employee Engagement strategy.
EVP is a major determiner for Engagement
All businesses have an EVP – or Employee Value Proposition. Whether it has been carefully engineered or remains relatively unacknowledged, an EVP is constructed as a result of the culture, incentives, benefits and what is offered holistically by the business in exchange for an employee’s commitment and efforts within their role. Prospective employees tend to evaluate a company’s employee value proposition simply because of the nature of the job search; candidates are weighing up what that business could offer them as an employee. People assume the EVP is only relevant to those currently engaged in the oranisations recruitment process when in fact, recognition, acknowledgement and rewarding your current workforce is as important, if not more so, than trying to attract new Talent. In order to curate an effective EVP, we must understand the factors that drive employee engagement.
Goal setting is such a significant process when it comes to engaging staff. People respond to being challenged and having something to work towards. Ambiguous or unmanaged workloads that haven’t been discussed or reviewed with management can lead to confusion, stress and disengagement. Employees need more than just the objectives that are set during their appraisals; performance reviews are intermittent and often focus on what needs to be achieved in the long-term. To engage with staff effectively, managers must align personal aspirations with strategic, organisational goals. The company’s vision must be clear, and any business updates should be disseminated amongst the team on regular basis. Devise goals that are regular, relevant and individualised according to employee’s skills, abilities and desire to develop professionally.
Management and leadership
Engagement starts from the top down. Being able to manage processes effectively is one thing; being able to manage people effectively is something quite different - and the reality is that few line managers are trained to do both to the level of competency required. It is the duty of a line manager to instil a sense of purpose within the team, and to keep individuals motivated and focused on both their individual and group assignments. They must lead by example, building relationships on honesty and respect. One of the most important ways in which managers can ensure employees feel truly integrated into the organisation is by gaging their personal opinions and feedback on matters within the business. A good manager will be able to detect disharmony within their team, and will use their interpersonal abilities to address and resolve issues.
Pay and benefits
According to Reed, 37% of the 1500 participants surveyed in their market insight 2014 review received no incentives at all in the last year, be it either in the form of a pay rise, bonus, promotion, training or entertainment. In order to truly create an environment where employees feel at ease and valued, your rewards as an employer should tap into the goals and lifestyle aspirations of the team. Understand the people within your business and what would best incentivise them – monetary rewards only account for a fraction of what amounts to overall job satisfaction. Annual pay reviews are a good way to illustrate that you are recognising the efforts of your staff and rewarding them accordingly, but even simple perks, like introducing dress-down Fridays or free lunch allowances, can help to build a dynamic and rewarding working environment that adds value to the day-to-day employee experience. Offering staff adaptable working conditions, like giving them the chance to work from home or introducing the flexitime scheme, is another impactful alternative.
Training, growth and development
Nothing nurtures an employee like recognition. In many organisations, particularly in high-target, high-volume environments, recognition equates to a monetary reward implemented via a commission structure. This is all good and well, but true recognition goes far beyond any financial incentives. Lack of clarity and vision will stunt businesses that are looking to retain talented employees because those employees are often motivated by far more than just money – they are seeking challenges, goals and development prospects. A business that offers its employees the chance to develop themselves by attending training programs or by promoting internally will be actively investing in that person – and that’s the kind of in-house rapport and positive press that money can’t buy.
Open and supportive culture
Fear and distrust are the two most potentially crippling factors facing the stability and culture of any business. Of course, within every organisation, boundaries have to be established over what kind of behaviour and approach to work is accessible, and what is inappropriate. Establishing a ‘say = do’ culture from the offset is important so that employees are aware of what is expected of them and what they will gain in exchange for their delivery at work. But it is also important that a message of understanding is being communicated throughout the company that conveys something akin to “we would rather try and get it wrong than never try and never know.” Employees that are scared to be held accountable for making would could be deemed a ‘bad choice’ will never push themselves to make creatively or intellectually deviant decisions, and may even be hesitant to contribute potentially worthwhile ideas. Employees thrive in an open culture that recognises that mistakes will be made and embraces risk in order to be innovative.
In order to evaluate employee engagement effectively, it is important to try to adopt the perspective of your employees. Think about some of the most junior members of your team – what is their relationship with their line manager? How passionate are they likely to be about the business, its vision, its culture and the people within it? There’s no point entering into this process with rose-tinted spectacles; be honest and critical. Where do the gaps lie in their working experience? In today’s market, businesses must do more for less, and subsequently employees must be enthused and genuinely passionate brand ambassadors to maximise creativity and output. If business values, goals and employee rewards haven’t been outlined, motivation and commitment to the role and to the business is likely to waver. It is equally as important to establish and communicate what is expected of employees within the workplace to counteract or prevent emerging mentalities of entitlement. Ensuring that the Employer Brand and EVP align is also crucial. Consistency throughout - from attraction to delivery - will affirm that your business stays true to its values and vision, which will connote that it is a business worthy of the individual’s contributions and commitment.