Guest Blog from Anna Jester of Jester Communications – The rise and rise of employee engagement – how engaged is your workforce?

Are employees more likely to work hard and be the best they can be if they are a) engaged or b) disengaged in the workplace?
It’s a no-brainer isn’t it? So then why are just 27% of employees in the UK ‘highly engaged’ with an equivalent proportion actively ‘disengaged’ with the company they work for?(1)
Lets remind ourselves of what engagement actually is. Employee engagement can be described as the emotional and functional commitment an employee has to his or her organisation. Essentially, it’s the difference between productive employees actively contributing to the development of a business and unproductive employees showing up to do their duties and get paid. At its worst, actively disengaged employees will go out of their way to breed negativity about a company within its own walls.
Employee engagement has been researched for over a decade proving that engagement correlates with performance. Engaged employees will perform 20% better for the organisation they work.(2) They are also 87% less likely to leave their organisation and will even generate a positive image for their company with 78% of engaged employees recommending its products or services to people they know.(3)
At the heart of employee engagement is feeling respected, valued, informed, involved and critically, heard in the workplace.
Here are five simple things your company can do to engage its employees today:
1) Explain the bigger picture – Employees need to understand company goals, the strategy for achieving them and how they individually fit into that, in order to feel they are contributing to overall business success. Hold regular employee briefings to talk about company strategy and current priorities so employees feel involved and understand where they are headed
2) Visible leadership – Employees need to firstly, see the leadership team and secondly, see them leading by example. Make sure your senior managers leave their ivory towers on a daily basis to spend time with and listen to front line employees – it will make them feel valued and motivated. Regular town hall or Q&A style events, web chats and question boxes all work well to create opportunities for employees to engage with the leadership team
3) Regular communication – Employees need to feel informed at all times, good and bad! Share business successes with all of your staff regularly and communicate quickly and honestly in times of uncertainty and change. Setting up a weekly all employee newsletter/ e-bulletin is a great way to get into the habit of sharing news. Never be afraid to use an all employee email or interrupt business operations to get everyone together if you need to – it’s always better than your people finding out second
4) Ask for feedback (and listen to it) – what your employees think and feel is at the heart of how productive your workforce will be. Ask for staff feedback on everything from your business strategy to the canteen refurb – you’ll be amazed at the fantastic ideas you get back. Combining ongoing feedback channels (e.g. dedicated email address) with more formal platforms (e.g. annual employee feedback survey) works well and most importantly, act on the feedback you get
5) Reward and recognition – 82% of employees say that the recognition they receive at work motivates them to improve their performance.(4) Never underestimate the power of saying ‘thank you’ and do it creatively – hand written cards, megaphones in sales offices, team cupcakes, Friday afternoons off and surprise employee awards (to name but a few!) make so much more impact than a quick email
Small or large, consolidated or multi-site with online or offline employees – there are a range of challenges and opportunities organisations face on their journey to engagement.
Understanding where your business is on that journey is the first step and then it just gets better and better after that. One thing is for sure, employee engagement is the biggest commercial opportunity UK business has today.
(1)The Evidence – Engage for Success (November 2012)
(2)Towers Perrin-ISR (2006) The ISR Employee Engagement Report
(3)Corporate Leadership Council – Driving Performance and Retention through Employee Engagement
(4)Gallup Organisation (2006)

Anna Jester is Founder and Director of Jester Communications offering a full range of internal and external communication consultancy services.
Anna’s career has seen her work for PR consultancies in both London and the Midlands, as well as in-house roles including Head of Communications and Executive Assistant to the CEO. A big believer in the power of good communication to change both companies and the people within them, Anna now works independently helping organisations with their communication challenges.

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