One of the biggest fallacies when hiring is that an employee should be thankful that you’ve given them a job.
If that person is adding value to the company, chances are they’re going to be in the black pretty soon. What’s more, if they’re not adding value this is often as a result of poor management, strategy or hiring the wrong person in the first place. If someone isn’t adding more value than resources, and will continue to do so, why are they there?
Either way, ignoring employee engagement and contributing to this kind of attitude, is never going to add value to your company. By making people feel like they’re lucky to be there, you’re not engaging them with your company, its aims and its growth.
But how do we define employee engagement, and why is it so important? Read on…
What is employee engagement?
Put simply, an engaged employee is someone who is committed and enthusiastic about the company and not just their role within it. They tend to be genuinely concerned with improving and developing the company, doing what they can to support growth and success.
Yes, this can of course come down to the individual. Some people are more naturally ambitious, but very few employees don’t want to be somewhere they’re proud to call their workplace. Unconscious and conscious decisions that drive down this sort of employee engagement are exactly what prevents people from feeling pride about where they work, and they start simply going through the motions.
So could your company be ignoring employee engagement?
Not being transparent about your immediate business goals
Unbelievably, statistics show that only 7% of employees fully understand their company’s goals and strategies. One of the biggest problems causing employee disengagement is a lack of direction and understanding of the bigger picture of the company.
Feeling like a cog in a machine, with no idea what the effect of your work is, or why you’re doing it, is always going to be disenfranchising. By and large, people want to be part of something and contribute. It’s fulfilling. Something as simple as letting people know their role in the bigger plan can help to drive care and pride in what you’re doing.
The bigger picture to this bigger picture? How many of those 93% of companies don’t share their plan with their employees because they don’t have one? Proper strategy, informed by understanding of the market and what you’re offering is often where these companies need to start. If you can’t easily explain what your immediate business aims are, no wonder your employees can’t.
You’re not giving recognition and feedback
So you’ve made people feel part of the team, and understand the bigger picture. Top stuff.
But without feedback and recognition, this is far less effective. What’s better than realising the part that you play is being made aware of how well you play that part. Feedback is crucial at every level and it’s astonishing how little it is done.
The power of a cursory ‘well done’ or a piece of key insight from a senior member of staff to a junior one is monumental.
Regular feedback sessions not only make people more aware and give them the opportunity to improve, but they are hugely central to engagement. It all comes back to making someone feel like the work they are doing is relevant and integral to the growth and success of the company.
There are no opportunities for personal growth
We all know that the days of working one job through your whole career are almost over. With workers, particularly from the younger generation, keen on the idea of career autonomy, research now suggests that employees favour personal development over and above career progression.
By offering opportunities to learn, including internal and external training, you’re doing more than just satisfying someone’s desires to prepare for their future career. Again it all comes back to nurturing people’s interest in doing a good job. What seems like an ambitionless workforce is more likely to be an unengaged one.
Give people training and an understanding of the positive effect of that training on the business and you’re linking people’s personal development directly with the good of the company. It’s a win-win.
Now that you understand how you might be scuppering your efforts to engage with your workforce, let’s look at why poor employee engagement can be so troublesome…
They’ll leave, and it’ll cost you
One of the big costs of poor employee disengagement is that they’re much more likely to disengage their way out the door. If an employee doesn’t understand your goals, care about the delivery of those goals or engage with the rest of the team, then the chances are they’ll look for someone where they can.
Employees are 4 times more likely to leave if they are unengaged compared to those who consider themselves highly engaged. What’s more, the cost of hiring someone to replace an established member of staff has been shown to be around 20% of that person’s salary. The chances are, it’s not worth taking the risk.
They won’t be positive ambassadors
Every company is a ‘brand’ nowadays. With marketing and branding becoming more and more important for all types of businesses and an increase on the importance of social influence, the way your employees advocate your company is more important than ever.
Both online and offline negativity can filter down to affecting everyone from customers and prospects to potential future hires. Even if your employees are not intentionally badmouthing the company, their silence speaks volumes. No longer is this just a problem for huge customer facing brands but B2B brands are increasingly focusing on ambassadors.
And don’t think you can get away with forced ambassadorship. In the more transparent world we live in, forcing people to write positive reviews on Glassdoor, or imploring them to utilise personal and family leads are not going to improve your brand. In fact, they’re more likely to alienate your workforce and further damage the poor employee engagement that caused this problem in the first place.
They won’t collaborate
One common theme amongst disengaged employees is a feeling of isolation. Whether this is caused by unresponsive management, over the top workload or a heavy-handed approach to personal targets, this one-for-one and none-for-all attitude will damage your business.
Companies like google have made their success through collaboration, listening to the little guy and actively encouraging idea generation. One of the most powerful things an employee can do is hand something over to someone better suited than them, ask for advice from an expert, or do anything that involves putting the company first.
Employee engagement is the only way to achieve this open collaborative and selfless environment. If they don’t feel involved, they’re unlikely to involve themselves in actively improving the company over and above their own goals and aims.
Matt Arnerich is a content writer for the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency, Inspiring Interns. Take a look at their website if you’re looking to hire a graduate, or looking for internships and graduate jobs in London and beyond.