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Craig Bulow, Founder of Corporate Away Days

In today’s world employee engagement is an economic necessity. Data from Gallup shows that companies with engaged employees outperform others by 202%. Craig Bulow, of Corporate Away Days, is here with his tried-and-tested ideas to keep your staff engaged in 2020

The Gallup study showed that companies in the highest quartile of employee engagement ratings outperform those in the bottom quartile in customer ratings, productivity, and profitability. 

Employee engagement was the biggest challenge for HR professionals in 2019, according to a study by software provider Cascade HR.

Two-fifths (40%) of respondents to the survey of 423 UK HR directors, managers and executives pinpointed engagement as the major issue for next year, with recruitment and retention a close second (37%) and third (36%).

Although, for every company it is important to put the client first, it is equally important to make sure your staff are engaged.

A survey question by Gartner 2019 asking: ‘Which of the following factors are most highly linked to employee engagement in your organization?’ highlighted some interesting statistics:

Relationship with immediate supervisor: 79%

A sense of purpose: 75%

Organizational culture: 74%

Opportunities for career growth: 68%

Enjoyment of work: 68%

Relationship with colleagues: 67%

The pattern is clear: engaged employees are happier, perform better, and provide a better experience to the end customer.

So, how do you engage your employees? 

Including wellbeing training and learning

Wellbeing training should cover evolutionary practices, the three main ones being: Sleep, Diet and Exercise. In addition, at work training on how to look out for signs of stress and burnout in our colleagues is helpful.

Engaging the services of leading professionals in wellbeing and mental health to offer interactive workshops and seminars to educate staff at all levels will help ensure the company’s workers mental and physical wellbeing is kept a high priority.

Investing in your employees with ongoing job training keeps them engaged in their chosen career path and therefore more committed to the company. Training and development also encourages’ communication and connection between colleagues who will share knowledge and experience.

Ideally, once started, keep this face to face communication going in order to build relationships and trust.

Encourage social connections

Over the last 20 years there has been a huge step forward in technology, which has changed the way we communicate both at work and socially. Face-to-face communication has reduced, and we’re at risk of losing the human connection - which is crucial to improving engagement at work.

  • 70% of employees said friendships at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life. 
  • 74% of women surveyed said they would refuse a higher paying job if it meant working with difficult people. 58% of men said the same thing. 
  • 50% of employees that have a best friend at work reported that they feel a close connection to their company. (Source: Inc.com)

After speaking with a number of professionals in the City it was striking to find the majority described their working day as containing little or no personal verbal communication with their peers; it’s always an email. Even if the person is just across the room – email was still the dominant form of communication.

One way to tackle this issue would be to remove individuals from the office and put them in a neutral, social environment. This can be done with an engaging and fun away day, perhaps one that the team has collectively chosen for itself.

Clearly not everyone will have the same interest for every event/activity that is chosen. Perfect! This gives the employer an opportunity to engage different individuals from across the business who share the same interests, creating a common ground that’s ripe for breaking the ice.

Engaging your staff socially out of the office on inspiring and engaging events centred around wellbeing is a sure way to improve morale and in turn productivity for the company. A company away day with a wellbeing theme can generate up to 800% ROI.

Lead by Example

Belief in senior leadership is the No.1 factor in creating positive employee engagement. 58% of employees say they would start a job with a lower salary if they worked for a great boss. 85% of employees say they would stay longer in a company with an employer who shows a high level of social responsibility. (Source: Glintinc)

The best way to do this is by example. Don’t tell them about your great leadership - show them through your own actions. If you make a mistake; take responsibility. If you say you will do something; make sure you do it. If you set a deadline; meet it.

Offer flexible working conditions

75% of employees say they experience greater productivity when they are working from home. This also reduces commuting time, cost of travel, less daily stress and a comfortable environment. (Source: Glintinc)

The downside to this is isolation; employees risk losing even more connection with their colleagues/peers.  However, arranging social engagements can help to mitigate this by building relationships and ensuring that the people you are dealing with are real people whose personalities you know. It’s much easier to build a relationship and trust when you share a common interest in an event or activity.

Show Empathy

We all like to feel valued for who we are rather than how much money we make. Employees are no different.

So, if you want staff who care about their work you must first show you care about them as people. Get to know your employees. Find out what matters to each employee professionally and personally. Who’s their favourite superhero? Who broke a world record? What are their career goals? Ask and listen!

Empower Employees

Knowing someone and trusting them are two quite different things! So, as well as getting to know your team, have faith in their abilities. Engage employees by empowering them to take responsibility for their work and new challenges.

Give people the autonomy to get the job done in their own unique way. All this ‘trying and doing’ it for themselves develops employees’ skills through experiential learning. Remember that empowering employees means steering clear of micromanaging.

Warning: Other people’s way of doing things may be different to yours (but it just may be better!).

Role Ambiguity

Role ambiguity is often cited as a common cause of workplace stress. Failure to address this issue also leads to task duplication and wasted resources. It’s bad news for both employee engagement and business success. If you want to avoid staff burnout and engage employees, you need to set clear expectations.

Research agrees, with a recent Gallup study revealing ‘clear expectations’ as the most ‘foundational’ factor for employee engagement.

By setting clear employee SMART goals, KPIs and expectations from day one staff can better plan and measure their progress. Give each employee the right tools, information, feedback and training to excel in their role. Ensure each employee knows what to do, how to do it and how their work contributes to the company’s wider goals.

Training for career progression

Modern workers are motivated by purposeful work and career progression opportunities.

So, to engage employees, give them what they want; personalised training and development to suit their needs. Developing staff skills boosts the expertise, productivity and engagement levels within your organisation.

Training on how to improve employee wellbeing, for example, diet, sleep and exercise, as well as looking at anxiety and stress levels in the workplace can create agents for change, sharing the knowledge and looking out for those that may need help or advice on being a better them.

Employee Recognition

We all like to hear those two powerful words every now and again – ‘good job!’ Research suggests employees value recognition more than money. So however big or small a success, make sure you praise your workforce for a job well done. Share the company's successes. Encourage everyone to celebrate each other’s successes. By celebrating company-wide achievements you will encourage a supportive work environment and motivate staff.

Recognition is a powerful way to engage employees, with research showing 76% of people find peer praise extremely or very motivating. So, however you choose to spread the praise – be it with a day out, a trip to a special event, in one-to-one sessions, or an old school round of applause – celebrate success!

Conclusion:

Engaging your staff is something every business owner needs to focus on. People want to know their colleagues and feel that work is a nice place to be with friendly, supportive people they trust. They also like to feel they are developing within their career, and they need to know they are appreciated. A day out doing something they enjoy can help you tick all these boxes, so perhaps it’s time to look at the diary and get something fun planned for 2020.

Contributed by Craig Bulow
Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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