While there are many factors to what makes a successful business, high-performing staff will always be at the top of the list. Keeping employees engaged in the current COVID-19 environment is one of the biggest challenges employers face, and without understanding why employee engagement is important, many businesses will continue to struggle.
We know that staff who are engaged with their work are more motivated, less likely to leave, and willing to go above and beyond — this is what gives businesses an edge, and a healthier bottom-line.
We'll explain the effects low engagement can have, what motivates employees and how, no matter the size of your business, you can do something about it.
What is employee engagement and why is it a game-changer?
According to Forbes, employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the business and its goals. They care about their work and the business succeeding, they're not working just for a paycheck, or promotion.
"Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of employees, they will take care of the clients." Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group
Staff have a direct influence on the success of your business. If employee engagement is done well, you will see:
Higher staff retention - appreciated employees have less reason to look elsewhere for work. With a smaller workforce as a result of international border closures, it's more important than ever to keep your employees happy and engaged. According to the 'Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology at Work', engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave, which means less time spent recruiting, training, and waiting for new staff to skill up to full productivity.
Better customer service - the happier and more engaged your staff are, the better the experience your customers will receive.
Lower absenteeism - when employees are engaged and contributing actively to the team and the success of the business, the flow on is reduced absenteeism.
Improved productivity - an engaged team works harder and goes the extra mile. A Gallup study found that engaged workers are 21% more productive than disengaged workers.
Increased profits - when you retain your staff, offer quality customer service, have lower absenteeism, and are more productive, it's only natural that your business will be more profitable.
"Companies often talk about the ROI of their business strategy, but often fail to recognise the ROI of employee engagement. These two are intrinsically linked, for an organisation cannot truly be successful unless its people are engaged and thriving."
Chloe Sesta-Jacobs, Global Director, Inclusion and Engagement at Deputy
5 simple ways to improve your team's engagement
Communication - creating a personal connection with your team is the foundation that you can build on with feedback, wellness, recognition and appreciation. Walk the floor each day and connect with your team not just on a work level, but also on a personal level. With strong relationships, you will see more teamwork, better collaboration as well as psychological safety.
Co-founder & Head Food Nerd at EARL Canteen, Jackie Middleton, says that having a central newsfeed tool has been essential for streamlining staff communications and ensuring that no one is left out of the loop on the important stuff. "It's incredibly convenient, as the team can directly message us, and they know they've gone through the right channel to get an answer."
EARL Canteen use the Deputy Newsfeed as a team engagement tool, "We have used the Deputy Newsfeed at various times between lockdowns to invite team members to staff gatherings and team-building picnics prior to reopenings"
Feedback - have an open door policy where a team member is free to express their opinions to their manager. If an employee knows their voice is being heard, they are more likely to consider themselves part of the business and want to proactively contribute to its success. Ask staff what they think would make a difference to the business, but don't forget, you must turn this feedback into action. Listen and act.
Wellness - R U OK conducted a survey that revealed 80% of hospitality workers were concerned about mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Wellness can not be separated from work life, which has become more apparent throughout the pandemic. Staff may not have seen loved ones for extended periods and their work has been unpredictable. Some things you can do is offer flexibility where staff can swap their shifts when they need time off, have managers trained in how to manage mental health issues in the workplace, ensure staff take adequate breaks, invest in wellness vouchers like gym, yoga or mediation as rewards, and regular fun team bonding activities that build camaraderie.
Restaurateur and mental health advocate, Bianca Welsh, says that caring genuinely for their team has contributed to decreasing staff turnover to as low as 10%, "We attribute it to being a mentally healthy workplace, working with our team, and trying to help them from a place of genuine care and empathy, that we're able to retain people better".
Recognition & Appreciation - take the time to congratulate individuals or the team on a job well done, a simple thank you or acknowledgment in front of peers is very satisfying as it provides a sense of accomplishment. Showing recognition could be as simple as an in-person shout-out in a team meeting, or via a post at the end of each shift, offer well-being rewards, or a 'promotion for a day' to shadow a higher position.
Recognition doesn't always have to come from above. Team members often have strong personal bonds, so encouraging the team to recognise each other can be very effective.
Invest in team feedback software - moving away from gut feel and implementing a tool to monitor that gives you a digital record to capture the sentiment of the team is a game-changer. You may find that the things you think are a problem, are not the things that are making your team unhappy or vice versa, or your focus areas for improvement around the workplace, aren't actually making a positive impact on your team's morale.
Start building a healthy and engaged workplace
Building an engaged team is both critical to your success as a manager and to the success of the business.
And it doesn't have to be so hard. Use this framework and adjust to your own situation. Give your team the tools they need to be heard and acknowledge the time they've taken to give you the feedback, and they will feel appreciated.
There are easy-to-use tools that simplify shift work and make your workplace happier and more engaged. Deputy takes the chaos out of rostering, provides hassle-free time and attendance management, and lifts your team communications — we also offer a Shift Engagement feature that captures your team's feedback after every shift for their manager's review. Sign up for a free trial of Deputy today, and see how Deputy supports businesses like yours to build engaged teams that support your business to thrive.