Employee engagement, it’s a tricky topic for employers running any type of business to get right. However, the advantages if you do achieve success in this area are huge. An engaged workforce can put a business ahead of its competitors. It can increase productivity, reduce staff turnover, improve customer service, create a better atmosphere to work in and improve the quality of the service or product.
Businesses that don’t have an engaged workforce don’t benefit from the above benefits. Their staff members tend to be task orientated rather than goal orientated, they struggle to motivate themselves which in turn impacts on performance.
If you have staff who are actively disengaged with the company then the results can be disastrous. Actively disengaged employees will fight tooth and nail against any changes and may undermine the actions of their colleagues and the business.
Work “with” a company
Engaged staff don’t see themselves as working “for” a company, they work “with” a company. It’s a small word change that can make a big difference. Staff who see themselves as working “with” a business see their employer as more than a means to get a pay cheque, they see them as a client who they want to work “with” to create a win-win situation where both the employer and employee profit by working together.
One example is the John Lewis Partnership, they have a largely engaged workforce that proactively and positively engages with the company, and in times when a lot of retailers are reporting falling profits, the John Lewis Partnership are bucking this trend. Now part of this is down to the business model of employee ownership. John Lewis is a partnership set up by John Lewis and each employee gets an equal same bonus, everyone from the executive chairman to checkout operative gets the same percentage bonus each year, which creates a sense of equality, but this doesn’t tell the whole story.
John Lewis is owned by a trust on behalf of its employees and its purpose is “the happiness of all its members, through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business”. And yes, that’s exactly what the John Lewis constitution says. They want their employees (or partners as they are called) to be happy.
John Lewis isn’t the only company benefiting from high employee engagement levels. Other companies such as Tesco, the London Ambulance Service, BAE Systems and Toyota have all seen transformational business results.
Creating the right environment
But employee engagement isn’t just about higher salaries, bigger bonuses and better employee benefits. John Lewis provides the right working environment to create an engaged workforce and maintain the happiness of all its partners. Its partners are involved in business decisions and the trust keep staff informed about how the company is doing. Employee engagement enables an adult, two-way relationship between leaders and managers, and employees, where challenges can be met, and goals achieved, whether it is improved patient care, higher quality production, or more satisfied customers.
Survey after survey has found that improving employee engagement is at the top of a list of human resource challenges being faced by businesses, and it’s cited as a major concern by HR professionals.
High levels of employee engagement aren’t easy for a company to create and maintain but it is very possible. It’s challenging, but many companies have seen their performance and profitability transformed by getting it right. The key lies in education: for employee engagement and its principles to be better understood, and for good practice to be widely shared. It must also be a prime consideration for every business leader and manager, and as such it needs to be placed at the heart of the business strategy.