Employee engagement tools for SMEs

It is well understood that people join great companies and leave because of bad managers. There is a clear link between how engaged employees are with their organisation and business performance. Yet, across the UK there are people we all hear on our daily commute bemoaning their organisation, their manager or their fellow employees, hoping fervently for the weekend to come soon, or for retirement to spare them from their miserable working existence. These conversations depress me beyond belief. Why? Because to spend precious days and years working somewhere you are miserable and unfulfilled is a criminal waste of life. To work somewhere you feel stretched, valued, have fun as well as work hard, and feel proud of yours and the company’s achievements is time well spent.

So what is the key to better engagement and results? It is not always about large pots of cash. There are many simple and highly effective things we can all do to help our teams feel engaged, positive, happy and productive.

Ensure everyone knows what the end goal is
Paint a clear and compelling picture of your organisational goals and reason for being. What does the company do, for who, where in the world are the services/products used? What does the next year, two years look like in terms of growth? Is it time for goals to be refreshed? How can everyone in the organisation make goals a reality? Many organisations can take for granted that their employees know all of this, but it’s interesting that gaps can appear in their understanding of your corporate goals over time. They need regular communication that reminds them why they get up for work every day. A clear link between goals, contribution and reward is also important to have employees understand what they can continue to do to have an impact.

Be Visible
Talk to employees regularly, spend time to really listen to what they are saying about the organisation and then act on it. That does not mean saying yes to all ideas but it should mean saying “I heard you, and these are the things I am going to do”, then explaining why. This has to be consistent too, not a once a month wander around the office. Whilst it can be difficult to maintain a balance between being an authoritative leader and a friendly presence in the office, the best leaders manage it with ease. Ultimately, respect you earn from your teams must feel mutual.

Lead your Leaders
Developing your managers and leaders does not have to be expensive. On the flip side it will cost you dearly if you have poor leaders, which could lead to disgruntled employees leaving. Teach those who manage staff to be great coaches to employees to help them thrive. Help them work with their teams to create personal development plans linked to company goals. And if people need to stretch to reach their objectives, help your managers to help them and provide a steadying influence.

Don’t neglect your internal communications
It’s not just global corporations that need internal communications processes. Just telling is not communicating. Have a Monday morning meeting, or first shift of the week meeting, and share the results of the previous week, all the things that went well and the things that could have gone better. Gather ideas on how to improve things even further. What are the team goals for the week and how can everyone support each other to achieve them? Talk about customers and what they are saying about the organisation, and consider what competitors are doing. Take time to thank people for their efforts, and above all be genuine and transparent.

Give something back
We all have causes/charities in our lives that are special to us because of family and friends, personal circumstances and interests. Get people to talk about the charity they would like to support for the year and then encourage fund raising activity e.g. fancy dress days, cake bakes, sponsored walks. Report on fund raising progress alongside work achievements. You should also ensure your company does its bit for charity and you could even give someone who is passionate about the subject additional responsibility for managing any ‘green’ initiatives, which can help their development as they get to do something different and potentially learn new skills.

Get awarded
There are awards organisations of all sizes can enter. Getting placed and winning awards is a wonderful way of celebrating the successes of the organisation and employees. There is also no better feeling than knowing you work for a company which is quite simply, great at what it does- and an impressive trophy cabinet to prove it instills pride and loyalty amongst your team.