employee engagement

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT – AND WHY IT MATTERS TO YOUR BUSINESS

“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”

This sometimes feels like a very overused quote, but it stands the test of time. But if you can get employee engagement right, it can lead to greater customer experience and better working culture and it can help you attract and retain talent.

Employee engagement is also a key component of a successful communications strategy, though it takes time to properly embed these strategies and practices within your organisation. As a PR agency, working with clients across all areas of communication inside and out, we are involved in developing employee engagement strategies.

Here, we take a look at what employee engagement means to a business, why it’s important to a company’s mission, how to engage employees, how engaged employees perform better than those who are not, and how to employ tactics into your comms strategy to improve employee engagement.

Why is employee engagement important?

Employee engagement is important because it affects business at all levels.

Businesses which prioritise effective employee engagement, but also dedicate time and resources to improve employee engagement, will find that as their company culture improves so too does their productivity, effectiveness and ultimately their bottom line.

Workplace culture is more than just an esoteric feeling, it has tangible value to your business. Happy and engaged employees, who are bought into your organization’s mission and vision, are far more likely to commit, indenture customer loyalty and wider business success.

Issues regarding lack of employee engagement

What are some of the issues that come from disengaged employees?

Employee experience: or should we say lack thereof, because if your team, or teams, don’t feel bought into the wider strategy then they are far less likely to feel committed or dedicated to achieving the goals of your business.

Career development: disengaged employees will be less likely to wish to develop their careers within your organisation.

Employee turnover: valuable time and money can be spent, and wasted, in developing and training employees. But if a lack of engagement and culture causes them to leave at crucial moments, you’re not recognising the true value of the employee, nor are you getting the proper return on your investment.

All of these things create a tumultuous and vicious cycle which hampers your business’s success and potential growth. If you’re constantly in a position where staff are hitting senior levels and then leaving, it’s time to address your culture and engagement.

The benefits of employee engagement

  • Work ethics and culture: people who feel a connection with the organisation they work for will be more likely to bond with their colleagues, strengthening the overall company culture.
  • Increased profit and productivity: a productive workforce makes for a more profitable company. While engaged employees are more innovative and ambitious, leading to developments, new ideas and healthier growth. Disengaged employees are the opposite.
  • Better communications: employee engagement is now regarded as an equally important part of the communications strategy as engaging external audiences. If your staff love your company’s products or services, they can be the best advocates for your brand on social media and in wider marketing.
  • Better retention: this one’s pretty simple, if your staff believe in what they do, and feel like they are an important part of the organisation, they’ll stick around longer.
  • Better recruitment: as well as retaining staff, businesses with a strong culture and engaged employees will be better placed to recruit talent. If a company has a strong reputation for culture and employee care, it’ll attract talent more so than those that do not.

Steps to improving engagement

  • Onboarding process: the process of onboarding new employees is the building block of your engagement. The engagement process has to start here, if new employees feel like their being left to sink or swim,
  • Ownership: giving staff ownership over projects and tasks, will make them feel connected to the company and its overall aims.
  • Consideration: take time to consider each member of the staff’s point of view, and give them the opportunity to air their opinions constructively.
  • Constructive: implementing further constructive measures for staff, management and leadership to collaborate and share thoughts and opinions is crucial. These processes can neither be done in a vacuum nor should they be public.
  • Clarity: be clear about your company’s mission and values and communicate this well with staff – if the directors aren’t sure what they stand for, then no one else is either.

Methods to ‘increase’ employee engagement

Increasing employee engagement, should not be confused with improving employee engagement. Increasing your employee engagement relates to the volume and variety of methods and opportunities you have in place to engage with your employees.

This isn’t something you can change overnight, so you have to be prepared to commit to this in the long term,

The best place to start is by getting an understanding of how engaged your employees are at work – the best way to do that is by asking them.

A Gallup survey, which annually runs checks on employee engagement, recommends asking your employees the following questions:

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your fellow employees committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

These questions – and the answers you receive – will give you a strong indication of how our organisation is engaging with its employees, and how successful this engagement is.

Recognising culture and engagement in comms

Your efforts in building workplace culture and nurturing employee engagement can, and should, find their way into your business’s PR and comms threads.

This can be achieved in many ways.

Awards: these can be a major war to enhance your employer brand on many levels. Most industries and sectors have their own dedicated awards, with employer brand-focused categories. Entering sector-specific awards, and particularly winning, provides a significant boost to your employer brand within your own industry.

There are also major national awards and accreditations, such as Great Place To Work which, if successful, can add a tremendous level of national kudos and appeal to your business.

Share good news: if one or more members of your team have achieved something then make it known. Celebrate achievements and milestones with LinkedIn posts and internal communications.

Media relations: If your teams have achieved something out of the ordinary, be it new business wins or a period of particular success, then consider how you can factor the individual, or the group’s, efforts within your media relations. This could be anything from name-checking in media releases to setting interviews or even putting an individual employee forward for more media-led industry events and roundtables.

The important thing to recognise here is consent is important. In the case of interviews and roundtables in particular, you may feel that you’re helping to engage an employee or even empower their own personal growth, but if the individual is uncomfortable in those situations and doesn’t want to undertake those then you need to consider that.

It may just be that they don’t want the spotlight, or it may be that they feel ill-equipped to perform such a task. If it’s the former, you have to respect that. But if it’s the latter, consider how you can implement proper training programs to empower employees.

Either way, it’s all about communication.

Employee voice

Now, more than ever, employees have the means of voicing their opinions… and this can either play to your benefit or your downfall.

The growth of Glassdoor has seen it become a valuable resource within the talent pool. The public-facing rating of a business, through the likes of Glassdoor and even Google Reviews, can make a huge difference.

Where it makes the most difference is in recruitment.

If a prospective candidate were to visit a Glassdoor page and be met with a list of negative ratings and comments from previous and existing employees, then it’s most likely that candidate will never be anything more than that.

On the contrary, a company which exudes positivity on these sites will stand a far better chance of gaining and retaining talent.

The power and voice of the employee are also greater than they ever have been, public reviews and experience aggregation sites such as Glassdoor can play a major role in your recruitment process, so you need to be aware of what’s being said about your business.

But most importantly you need to be seen putting positive steps and measures in place to react to the negatives.

Going to far

It’s important to recognise that this is a balancing act. Instilling a work ethic and culture through engagement isn’t an excuse to then ask too much of your teams.

A major part of employee engagement and corporate culture is building balance into the equation.

Elon Musk’s Twitter is a prime example of this. Since he took over the reins in October 2022, Twitter’s workforce has dropped by 80% and his ‘hardcore’ stance has, according to reports, leaving just 7% of the workforce backing him.

The numbers make for difficult reading. The company now has less than 550 full-time engineers and its trust and safety team, which monitors content, recommends policies and makes changes to the website’s design, is down to fewer than 20 employees.

Ask yourself, what is your rationale and reasoning behind implementing employee engagement? Is it for the ‘right reasons?’In summary

When asking yourself the question of how to improve employee engagement, it’s important to know that there is no one answer.

When it comes to building corporate culture and boosting engagement, the most important thing is two-way communication and implementing strategies and tactics that work for your business and its people.

Your reasoning has to be right, there can be no duplicity. You have to be engaging employees for the right reasons.

To find out more about how team AMBITIOUS can help your organisation with employee engagement as a key part of your overall communications strategy.