An engaged workforce is the management buzz phrase of the moment, which can lead to people discounting the idea as simply the latest business fad, one that will soon be replaced with something else.
The buzz around this particular idea, though, is based on research and fact. It has given a name to a method of employee management with the potential to bring out the best in your employees while your business reaps the rewards.
Let’s look at why a business would want engaged employees and then how to get them.
The Benefits of an Engaged Workforce
Engaged employees are:
- The ones your customers want to work with
- Supportive of their co-workers
- Committed to the business
- Consistently high performing
- Satisfied with their job and career
These traits lead to some important business benefits. Specifically, engaged employees:
- Support the company leadership
- Contribute to a high-performing organization; engaged employees are 17% more productive
- Reduce turnover and the related expenses; on average, 52% of any company’s employees are looking for other jobs
- Set an example of high performance for their co-workers; engaged organizations have a 41% reduction in absenteeism
- Are essential to a productive and profitable business
The case for creating an engaged workforce is pretty much a slam-dunk, but it can be dismissed as something that is a better fit for the traditional business model of on-site managers and employees, rather than the remote business model being embraced by many businesses. The good news is that any company is capable of creating an engaged workforce. It just requires having a plan, and the right people to implement it.
How to Engage Your Workforce
Creating an engaged workforce is about creating a culture where employees see themselves as part of something larger and envision themselves contributing in some meaningful way. Does it matter, therefore, if employees are on-site or remote? Not one bit. The methods may be different, but what matters is that management has found a way to connect with its workers. Broken down into smaller pieces, it might look like this:
- Starting strong. Engaging your employees starts on day 1, and this means implementing a formal onboarding program. New employees should feel welcomed and supported the moment they return that signed offer letter. This could include remote workers logging in on their first day to find a welcome letter from the CEO. On-site employees should know exactly where to park and whom to ask for when they arrive. In either case, new employees would benefit from having an assigned onboarding buddy who will help them acclimate in their early days. Talk about making a great first impression!
- Sharing your vision. You want your employees to care, so give them something to care about. Share your hopes and dreams for the business, the vision you have for its future. This enables your employees to see themselves as part of something larger than just their daily job responsibilities.
- Consistently providing feedback and recognition. Make regular feedback part of your company culture. Annual performance evaluations may be important, but on their own they are a pretty disappointing method of performance feedback. Annual feedback simply isn’t enough to make anyone feel that their contributions actually matter. Remote employees can be at a disadvantage here, since they are not physically present for those informal good job messages passed in the hallways. Managers need to be aware of this and make extra efforts to connect with their remote employees regularly. Weekly check-ins, monthly department meetings, group Q&As with the CEO would all go a long way toward building a culture of open communication, whether these discussions take place over the phone, a web-based meeting platform, or in person in the conference room.
- Investing in your employees. Companies of every size and budget invest in their employees. They just do it at different levels. Small businesses have small budgets. This will not come as a shock to your staff – unless you use it as an excuse to do nothing. Between simple IRAs, voluntary benefits, web-based training portals, and more, there is a wealth of affordable options to show your employees that they matter. And don’t forget on its own, the ability to work remotely is a highly sought-after and valued benefit by many employees.
- Offering two-way, transparent communication. Communication is, as the saying goes, a two-way street. Keep sharing management’s vision and goals while also being open to employee feedback and concerns. Remember that your front-line employees (sales, customer service, manufacturing) are often the best resource for identifying and addressing business challenges and untapped opportunities. Requesting and listening to their feedback can be the most impactful way to demonstrate how the business values them.
The overriding theme is that engaged employees care. Whether they are remote or on-site, engaged employees care about your customers. They care about doing a good job. They care about the company. And that is a buzz that managers should get excited about.
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