2018 was a challenging year for HR managers and heads of department. From absence management and retention through to the ongoing difficulty of GDPR compliance, all indications are that these challenges will continue to affect businesses in 2019. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges for 2019 will be delivering an engaged workforce.
The concept of employee engagement is not a new one. An engaged employee will be passionate about their work, will stay longer and deliver better results. Yet as recently as 2018, the Office of Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) report on British productivity found that UK workers were 15% less productive than their EU counterparts. Providing a definitive answer to the lack of engagement is challenging but what we can agree that retaining staff has a positive impact on innovation, motivation and communication not to mention company profitability.
Why is employee engagement important?
Managing employees during times of change is difficult. The UK is experiencing one of its biggest political and socio-economic upheavals with the country’s departure from the EU. As we are enter into the unknown, firms have to create action plans that are flexible. No one knows yet what a post-Brexit world will look like, but we are confident that increased employee engagement could help to balance the uncertainty and insecurity that Brexit entails.
How to improve employee engagement?
The CIPD has stated that ‘HR can make a strong case for using flexibility as a strategic tool to support improved individual and business performance through developing greater diversity, brand competiveness and increasing levels of job satisfaction and commitment from workers’. It’s ironic then that previous studies have found that working from home can negatively impact mental health. Ultimately it’s up to employers to engage with their staff on an individual basis to determine what best suits them.
Inspire and educate
Business leaders can support engagement by keeping an open, two-way dialogue to ensure that their staff feel that, despite the current turmoil, which they are there to support. A strong manager’s impact cannot be underestimated and you manage people you need to ask yourself five key questions:
Have you put your employees in the right role?
Have they had appropriate training?
Have you given them meaningful work?
Are you checking in with them often?
Are you frequently discussing engagement?
Businesses with high employee engagement are overtaking their competitors when it comes to productivity and profitability. Engaging employees is not an easy task and doesn’t happen overnight, however the benefits it brings are long-term. The question is, are you up for the challenge?