Over the past few months I’ve shared 5 lessons I’ve learned in 10 years of being a business owner. Lesson 5 was about empowering our staff to do a great job. Today I’d like to share with you my 6th lesson of 10 in 10 years; the importance of how engaged our staff are at work.
Engagement in the workplace means are our staff happy, are they interested, involved, invested, enthusiastic, basically are they up for it? Sadly the answer is most likely to be no! Statistically 85% of the workforce today is disengaged. I find that astounding, 85% of our employees are in a zombie state, not interested or don’t care about the job they do.
I believe employers need to take a large amount of responsibility for this.
So what do we do, and why?
Firstly we obviously want our staff to be engaged so they are happier right? Why would we hire people if we don’t intend for them to be as happy at work as possible. Statistics show an engaged staff member can be 35% more effective than a disengaged employee, therefore improving our business performance.
On the flip-side a disengaged employee can be quite undermining of our culture and leadership. They can be very detrimental to everything we are trying to achieve, having a negative impact on our culture and environment, potentially influencing our engaged and positive staff members.
We need to understand how engaged our staff are by surveys, even customer satisfaction surveys can be used to measure our staff engagement. Also buddy programs or mentors can be introduced to measure and improve engagement. Essentially clearer open communication can help hugely.
Once we’ve measured the engagement levels of our people we can then plan how to do something about it. As mentioned, clear and open communication in all aspects of the business can be key. Also understanding what motivates our staff is equally important. Understanding each employees WHY, their values and what keeps them motivated. Understanding this and aligning each employees WHY to the business goals and purpose, this can help people feel empowered. Empowerment is a big one, most people want to be empowered to do a job that has greater impact and a clear path to where they want to be. Nowadays most people don’t care how they get to where they want to be, they just want to get there, ASAP! As an employer, a leader, we need to show them the path.
There are short term fixes to improve engagement such as salaries, bonuses or financial incentives however these will not get to the root of the problem. Such fixes will simply mask over the cracks in the short term and the employee will not become more engaged for long, if at all. It’s similar to your customers; if all you have to offer your customers is a cheap price, another business will come along with a cheaper price eventually, then what do you do? With staff it’s exactly the same, if all you have is a higher salary to offer them, they will eventually be drawn away by a better deal or better environment, etc. Money only goes so far.
Once we have understood the motivations of each employee we can improve ways to keep them engaged. It is true that the more our people are engaged the less they care about money.
My suggestion is to understand a employees motivations at interview stage, whilst recruiting. We can then clearly understand how we can motivate and keep our people engaged. I won’t say too much about this at this stage as it’s another lesson I’ll share in due course.
So my lesson 6 of 10 is measuring our staffs engagement levels, then setting parameters to improve and continually maintain this. Provide mentors, buddy’s and clearly communicate in a daily basis to keep everyone informed. Having highly engaged staff directly impacts on the company performance.