The importance of Small and Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs) is set to increase in the UK with experts predicting SME contributions to the economy growing by 11% from 2015 to 2020. With post-Brexit economy hopes riding high on SMEs it’s time for firms to focus on their employee engagement strategies to make sure they attract and retain high-quality staff.
Employee engagement is about measuring the level of job involvement, job satisfaction and commitment which employees feel towards their job and employer. If employees feel positively towards their company it stands to reason their work performance is more likely to be better than those who have negative perceptions. Well-engaged employees show greater commitment and are more willing to ‘go the extra mile’ for their bosses.
However, engagement is a dynamic relationship between employer and employee – on the plus side, this means that companies have the opportunity to affect the levels of staff engagement to put the odds in their favour.
Measure and benchmark for employee engagement
A starting point is to know what the current levels of employee engagement look like in your business. But then how can you check whether your business measures up in the employee engagement stakes? Here’s our advice:
- Arrange to undertake an engagement survey of your employees. The questions should be aimed at gathering information from employees on how they feel about areas such as job satisfaction, trust in management, rewards, the work environment, communications and training opportunities
- Consider whether you have the capacity and expertise to undertake the surveys in-house or whether you want to employ an external professional. You could consider using online survey resources e.g. SurveyMonkey. An external researcher may gather more honest responses from employees.
- Measure or ‘benchmark’ the results of your survey – this could be internally, comparing to previous results in the business, or externally, comparing to sector norms where available. Benchmarking is vital as this historical trend data allows you to make a comparison and judge what the results are telling you e.g. is a 65% job satisfaction rate good or bad in your sector?
- Following the results, involve your senior staff in working up an action plan to systematically address the areas raised by employees. Of course some will be moans and groans but look out for recurring trends and comments which are underlying signs of problems brewing.
Employee engagement in action: a case study
Recently one UK high tech organisation noticed that its levels of employee engagement were low on the key metric of staff turnover. With a workforce of just over 100 staff, it set out to obtain feedback from staff about their experiences. As a result they managed to identify a number of issues which they needed to address to improve job satisfaction – these included greater manager-employee relationship building and better conflict management. Leadership training was improved so managers were equipped with the skills to keep staff on board.
For your business to thrive, it’s important to keep employee engagement under review to ensure that you’re making the best of your most valuable, and often most costly, asset – your staff.
Good management data is a must to nurture and improve employee engagement. Information about rates of sickness, absence and lateness can all be indicators of the robustness of employee engagement in your organisation. The Chronologic Workforce Management system gathers a wealth of time and attendance data for businesses to benchmark employee absence rates and set targets to reduce absence.