The benefits of engaged employees – workers who are involved, enthusiastic and committed to their work and workplace – are well-researched and widely documented. These range from increased productivity and improved customer satisfaction to reduced costs and fewer safety incidents, all of which are vitally important for small businesses whose employees often fulfil multiple roles with wide responsibilities.
Fortunately, there are many effective employee engagement strategies that even small businesses can consider engaging their employees in truly meaningful ways, that won’t break the bank in these already difficult economic times.
Consider the benefits effective employee engagement can bring to your business, which strategies have proven most effective, and how to implement these even on a tight budget.
Gallup describes “engaged employees” as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. Numerous studies over many decades have confirmed the benefits of engaged employees especially to smaller companies, where they are often required to take on many diverse responsibilities.
Many studies have also identified employee engagement strategies that have proven most meaningful to employees and are therefore most effective. In these difficult economic times, business owners and managers will be pleased to find that some of the most effective employee engagement strategies do not require a substantial cost.
The many benefits of engaged employees
This isn’t just hype. Studies have confirmed that –
- Engaged employees often go beyond the call of duty.
- Employee engagement is positively correlated to company growth rates.
- Improved employee retention and loyalty.
- Lower absenteeism rates.
- Higher productivity – some studies have found engaged workers to be up to 21% more productive.
- Improved customer satisfaction.
- Improved company reputation and overall stakeholder value.
- Reduced incidence of internal theft and fraud.
- Reduced safety incidents.
Some effective employee engagement strategies
- Employees have a good understanding of the business’s values and mission, and clear expectations about their role in achieving these.
- Employees have the necessary equipment, resources and authority to do their jobs well.
- Regular employee performance and progress catch-ups with good quality, authentic and genuine feedback.
- Good relationships with superiors who are truly concerned for employees’ wellbeing and willing to provide support.
- Opportunities for employees to voice opinions and contribute ideas.
- Genuine and meaningful recognition, given publicly and timeously in front of superiors and peers.
- Peer-to-peer recognition has been found to have twice the impact of recognition from managers.
- Flexible work schedules and remote working options that allow employees to meet family obligations.
- Onsite employee programmes addressing, for example, health and wellness, or personal finances.
- Onsite family day care facilities and/or onsite food services.
- Having friends at work significantly improves employee commitment and satisfaction, by as much as 50% according to some studies.
- Volunteering unites employees towards a common greater good.
Implementing employee engagement strategies on a budget
When looking at the employee engagement strategies listed above, it is encouraging that most don’t involve high costs. What is crucial is to ensure that any strategies implemented add real value to your employees and impact their work and personal lives in a meaningful way. The best way to do so would be to ask your employees directly, perhaps at a team meeting or via an anonymous online survey.
Perhaps an employee-of-the-month program with rewards such as breakfast with the Boss or gift cards could yield great results. It may be that a Friday afternoon off once a month or paid leave on an employee’s birthday are top choices. Celebrating national holidays or sporting events as a company, or providing paid time off for volunteering together, will create opportunities to build friendships and create a sense of belonging.
Especially in small businesses, such employee engagement strategies can create a happier, more productive and faster-growing company.
While most of the employee engagement strategies discussed are not part of formal compensation packages, employee relations are always subject to intricate labour and tax laws as well as a host of practical business considerations. Be sure to run any employee perks you are planning to offer by your accountant to check there are no unintended outcomes.