David Saul, managing director of Business Environment, leading serviced office operator, explains how engaging with employees can do wonders for a business
Keeping staff happy in the workplace is something that should be a top priority for employers. It’s a no-brainer that happy, enthusiastic and engaged employees will be more willing to learn and perform at work. So why do so few managers invest time in engaging with their employees?
A review process conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) from October 2008 to May 2009 consulted leaders, practitioners, experts, representative bodies and thought leaders across the country, from all sectors of the economy. Independent reviewers examined whether a wider take up of engagement approaches could impact positively on UK competitiveness and performance, and meet the challenges of increased global competition. The answer was an overwhelming yes, with profitability and performance transformed through engagement. The report also argued that wider delivery of employee engagement could have a positive impact on UK competitiveness as we emerge from a recession.
At Business Environment, we also see a clear correlation between engagement and performance. Although it can be difficult to measure, due to the other countless external factors that can affect work performance, employees admit themselves that feeling more engaged with their employer improves commitment to their role and job satisfaction. This must be true since we have a 6% retention rate. It’s something we’re particularly good at, with Business Environment featuring in The Sunday Times ‘Top 100 Best Small Companies to work for’ Award for the fourth consecutive year in 2011 – gratifyingly, the awards are judged from employee responses regarding their satisfaction at work.
So if we know that engaging employees can improve work performance, how do employers go about it? At Business Environment we are constantly working and developing ways of achieving this as we better understand what suits our staff.
We provide new staff with comprehensive inductions; setting the right expectations at the recruitment stage, letting them know what support is available to them and clarifying job expectations. We communicate regularly which we find helps to resolve problems as they arise and ensures teams are kept in the loop at all times. Sounds simple, but it’s surprising how little some employees know about the business where they work.
We also find that rewarding staff with team socials and benefit packages can work wonders for engagement. We have an annual family fun day every summer for employees and their families and we encourage employees to use our free gyms. This has the added benefit of keeping employees fit and healthy, but also helps improve working relationships with peers and superiors.
Another area where we support employees is giving them time off to volunteer and get involved with local community activities. We encourage our employees to support charities that have a personal connection to them and allow them time within their normal working hours to do this.
For me, engagement is an essential element to running a business because people are fundamental to the workplace. If you want an employee to respect and value you, then it’s only right that your respect and value them. If more businesses had an employee engagement strategy then UK plc would really reap the benefits in improved performance.