There has been a significant and long overdue shift from ‘pure profit’ to ‘people drive profit’ work cultures over recent years. As business leaders, we read articles about the value and impact of employee engagement every day, and there is a plethora of statistics around the fact that engagement levels have a material impact on business performance.
A 2020 UK-wide Gallup survey told us in no uncertain terms that engaged workforces directly improve customer loyalty, sales figures, productivity, profitability, turnover, volume and quality of output, and employee wellbeing. Some of the most memorable figures were a 43% rise in turnover for SMEs, and a 66% increase in employee wellbeing, as engagement levels improved.
Surprising then that a slightly earlier (2018) Gallup engagement survey indicated that only 11% of the UK workforce were actively engaged in their job role at that time. In comparison, a shocking 21% were actively disengaged. This left most of the UK workforce sitting in the zone of ‘somewhere in the middle’ – that is, willing and able to be engaged, but feeling that their employer was falling short.
To take tangible steps towards responding to these statistics and seek to improve employee engagement within our own businesses, we first need to ask ourselves what ‘good’ engagement actually looks like. The answer will differ slightly by company and by sector, but the guiding principles remain largely the same.
With this in mind, and reflecting on the people-focused culture that we’ve created at Fizzbox, I thought I’d have a go at answering the million-dollar engagement question: What does 'good' look like? Here goes...
Promoting Honesty: Positive engagement means creating an environment where honesty is possible. If you don’t know what your employees are thinking and feeling, how can you possibly keep them by your side as you collectively move towards your strategic business goals? Embed regular pulse surveys, meaningful 121s, open dialogue, and opportunities to feed back without fear of judgement.
Creating A Safe Environment: An engaging work environment is a safe environment, where everyone’s voice is heard and everyone’s input is valued, no matter what their job role or level of seniority within the organisation. Leaders do not have all the answers; admit this to your team and you will be overwhelmed with smart, insightful and innovative contributions.
Fostering Cross-Department Working: Engagement is about recognising that people have different life and career experiences and can bring value to the table, outside of their day-to-day remit. Don't pigeon hole people into their role; their knowledge, skills and network could prove invaluable to a different area of the business.
Embracing Difference: An engaging culture is non-judgmental, allowing all types of people to flourish, embracing difference and diversity, and providing the opportunity to challenge if something doesn’t sit right. Leader behaviour in this area is vital in moving away from rhetoric and towards positive action.
Sharing Future Plans: Engagement is painting a clear picture of what lies ahead. Focused business goals, employee objectives, and tailored personal development pathways all play a vital part in ensuring that every individual understands the bigger picture and recognises the puzzle pieces that they’re expected to contribute.
Sitting With Uncertainty: Conversely, engagement is about being transparent when the future looks uncertain. When your sector is engulfed by outside events – for want of a better example, a pandemic! – engagement is about owning the uncertainty, saying: Look, your career pathway looks a little unsure right now, and we commit to getting it back on track as soon as we’re able to. But while we’re here, let me just check in and ask – how does this uncertainty feel for you?
Prioritising Clarity: An engaged workforce is built on the concept that clarity equals kindness. As humans, we need to know where we stand. We don’t respond well to mixed messaging and cryptic clues. We crave clear information, data driven decisions, and honest messaging with a kind and empathic delivery.
Asking The Right Questions: Engagement is a two-way street. It’s about asking, what do you need from us? Do you have the tools and skills to do your job to the very best of your ability? Can we help you to hone your existing skills and learn some new ones? Are we holding you back in any way and can we find ways to break down barriers together?
Facilitating Connection: Last, but certainly not least, engagement is about connection. It’s about the relationships we build at work, the friendships that we make, the daily interactions that shape us, and the moments of laughter that mould us. Whether it’s in person, or virtually, carving out the time for those vital connections within our teams, in their brilliance and their simplicity, will set us firmly on the right path towards creating an engaged workforce.
That’s where Fizzbox comes in. We offer an amazing array of virtual and in-person events that can facilitate this simple, but vital, concept of connection for your team. We provide an easy way to help your teams connect with the people that matter. We believe that carving out the time for those connections, in their brilliance and their simplicity, will set you firmly on the right path towards creating an engaged workforce.
An employee said something to me just last week that will stick with me for the rest of my career. Whilst commenting on the safe, supportive, and transparent work environment that we’ve created at Fizzbox, she said: “Thank you for making work feel like home”. I like to think she summed up what ‘good’ looks like, right there in those few simple words.