If a business wants to maintain its edge over competitors, its owners need to consider all the ways in which they must evolve to keep meeting the needs of their stakeholders. This could relate to the products and services on offer, the technology being used, their company culture, or something else.
This continuous evolution might mean significant organisational change, which in some settings can lead to discontentment among staff. In order to avoid a difficult transition period, managers and HR leaders need to focus on ensuring their workforce are onside, and remain fully engaged throughout.
Why employee engagement is important
Without effective and enthusiastic staff, a business cannot thrive. Every person employed has been offered a job because they are necessary to the company, and they are expected to perform well throughout their employment. It’s for this reason that it’s important to be invested in employees, because business-owners expect employees to be invested in the company.
When employees feel undervalued and ignored, it’s only a matter of time before they lose interest and begin putting in less effort. This can be avoided by investing time in making sure that staff remains engaged and motivated, especially during periods of change.
It’s during times of transition that unengaged employees are most likely to display feelings of discontentment. It’s common for unhappy employees to voice negative opinions about business changes, instead of being supportive and helpful. Sometimes, such an attitude can have a ripple effect, and could end up with the wider team becoming doubtful too. Instead of attempting to reactively tackle this issue, it’s important to be proactive and try to decrease the likelihood of it happening at all. This can be achieved by investing time and energy into ensuring teams stay engaged, in a number of ways.
How to ensure your workplace is engaged
The most effective methods for ensuring your staff remains motivated are with good communication, creating an atmosphere of trust, being transparent, and promoting employee empowerment.
According to research by US-based recruitment company, Recruiter, 33% of employees say that the lack of good communication has the most negative impact on morale. This illustrates just how important such a minor action is.
Communication need not be in the form of a constant stream of information being extended out to all staff, but rather a shift in the overall culture. Business leaders and managers should encourage conversation, and give employees the chance to have their questions answered.
While some structured communication devices, such as meetings, training sessions, newsletters and emailed memorandums can be useful, it can actually be detrimental to overload staff with information in this way. This is because it can cause employees to perceive these kinds of devices with an air of distrust, under the impression that this was merely a box to be ticked rather than a genuine display of valuable communication.
Leaders who can create a genuinely communicative environment amongst their teams will notice a vast improvement in various aspects; all of which can support employee engagement.
Create an atmosphere of trust
91% of employees who were invited to take part in a recent Interact/Harris Poll said that their leaders lacked communication skills, and 74% of employees, according to Trade Press Services, indicated they are missing out on company information.
In such a situation, it doesn’t take long for employees to begin feeling in the dark, and as if important information is being kept from them. This, in turn, is likely to cause staff to lose faith in their managers, which will lead to distrust between both parties. Conversely, when managers take time to communicate with their teams on a regular basis – formally or informally – it can lead to trusting relationships.
A certain level of openness and honesty at work is necessary to nurture good relationships in which everyone will deliver what’s expected of them. Particularly during periods of organisational change, it is important that employees are kept well in the loop about what to expect, and when to expect it. Arriving at work to discover that substantial changes have been made without any prior knowledge about the situation is a sure-fire way to dishearten and upset staff.
Of course, it may not always be possible to fully inform teams about all aspects of change; however, an effort should be made to keep communication frequent and open. Create a culture where employees feel able to ask questions, and are confident that matters will not be glossed over or hidden from them.
Promote employee empowerment
Research carried out by IBM has revealed that 72% of employees do not have a full understanding of their company’s strategy. This means that instead of keeping the overall targets and goals of the company at the centre of their work, employees are considering only their own KPIs or those of their team.
When employees have access to the big picture, where there is regular and clear communication, they become empowered to perceive how their work fits into the company’s overall goal. Only when this is apparent will employees feel truly valued and inspired to work to their full capacity.
Boosting employee engagement through effective communication and a healthy work culture should be a priority for all business owners, at all times, particularly during times of change. An understanding and supportive staff will help facilitate smoother transitions, giving businesses the confidence needed to make change, and continue keeping up with the competition.
Author: Matt Bragg is a Director at FMP Global (owned by IRIS). Matt is a regular commentator about HR and Payroll, and is a thought leader on the topics of digital working and employee engagement.