Most organisations aspire to engage their employees and yet despite great investment in this area they aren’t always guaranteed success. But why?
There are countless blogs that tell you what ‘The costs of poor employee engagement’ are
- Higher staff turnover
- Lower productivity and efficiency
- Increased sick days
- Impact on profits
To mention just a few and plenty more on how best to engage them…
Whilst these are all valid and useful to apply (any effort towards improvement is positive) I can’t help thinking whether they are asking the right questions?
Firstly, why do you want your employees to be engaged?
What’s your desired outcome? Your employees’ best interests or greater net profit?
Many assume that engaged employees automatically mean more productive employees but is that true?
In April last year the CIPD challenged the link between engagement and productivity in their podcast ‘The Engagement Myth’ does success in the former lead to success in the latter.
Sometimes but not always. It’s bigger than just engagement!
According to Paula Leach, Head of People in the Home Office, a process discipline helps too ‘creating the smoothest, leanest, most frictionless working process’. Duncan Brown, Head of Consulting at the Institute for Employment Studies, claims employee involvement is far more of a driver and Dr Ilke Inceoglu, professor of organisational behaviour and human resource management at the University of Exeter Business School, says that a good amount of challenge can be ‘highly exciting and elevating’.
So much more to think about! What then is the correlation between engagement and productivity?
Want to know how to motivate them? Engage them? Increase their productivity?
Ask them! They’ll have a far better idea than Google!
But people are complex, as are organisations, so how best do you set up an environment to foster these ambitions?
- During meetings, conversations, ask open questions, who, what, why, how etc
- When you ask questions listen without judgement, take their ideas on board
- Be transparent about your vision, strategies and goals and welcome feedback, give your people a voice
Recognition and Celebration
- Recognise individuals’ skill sets and give them the opportunity to grow and develop those skills
- Challenge them, what more could they / do they want to do?
- Celebrate individual and team successes
- If you want your employees to be productive give them space to recover and recharge.
- Ask them how they can work most effectively, days working from home? Best working hours? Enabling school pick up / drop off
- Create a space for laughter and humour. Not only will this make them feel happier, enable more rational decisions and help build relationships but it can also counteract the negative impacts of stress!
Most organisations genuinely do want to improve engagement and well-being but the simple fact is when the going gets tough, so do the upper management. ‘Isn’t it ironic?’ as Alanis would say. The very people who are crucial for a company’s success are the ones who most often bear the brunt in hard times. This has been demonstrated by HSBC who, are planning ‘to lay off dozens of staff in its global banking and markets business’ aimed at ‘protecting its dividend’.
However, if you want your organisation to be successful you need to recognise, respect and support all the people who work within it, regardless of their role. In one of his TED talks, Simon Sinek compares our situation now to that of paleolithic times; to survive we needed to ‘feel safe, trust one another and cooperate’.’ Just because our circumstances are different now (we don’t need to run away from our emails) doesn’t mean the way in which we work effectively has changed.’
He also tells the story of Barry Wehmiller Manufacturing and their experience when the 2008 recession hit. They lost 30% of their orders over night and needed to make a saving of $10,000,000. As you would expect the board got together the very next day to see what cuts they could make, which jobs could go.
Their CEO Bob Chapman ruled this out immediately. Instead he stated that every single person in the organisation, himself included, would need to take 4 weeks unpaid leave. This had a tremendously positive impact on all the employees to the point where those who could afford it would take on extra weeks of unpaid leave from those who would struggle more. The results? They doubled their savings, $20,000,000 in total and boosted employee moral immeasurably.
Bob Chapman’s approach to engagement is akin to ours at Laughology – ‘people matter’! There are no quick fixes. Connect with people on a positive emotional level and everything else will fall into place.
As Bob believes, it’s heart counts not head counts that matter most so as the title says if you want your employees to be engaged you need commitment.