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EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT IN SMALL BUSINESSES

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Firstly, let’s take a quick look at the definition and statistics of employee engagement. Employee engagement is a property of the relationship between an organization and its employees.  An "engaged employee" is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organisation’s reputation and interests.

 

In other words, an engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work. Engaged employees care about the future of the company and are willing to invest the effort and go the extra mile to see that the organization succeeds.

 

When you look at the current minimum statistic with regards to employee engagement, which is that at least seventy percent of your employees are either disengaged or actively disengaged, one can only imagine the effect of this on a small business that employs twenty to fifty people.

 

It means that only fifteen of your employees are engaged and going the extra mile to see that the company succeeds, twenty five of them are doing nothing to further the company (in other words, they are simply disengaged), while ten of them are actively disengaged and going out of their way to bring the company down.

 

Ten might not seem like a significant number, until you consider their role within the company. Out of fifty employees, how many of those hold management positions? Perhaps ten maybe twelve or even fifteen. What if seven of these managers are actively disengaged and another three disengaged? You can imagine the snowball effect of this on the teams they manage in turn.

 

And more importantly, you can imagine the snowball effect of this on the customers and clients they service! Now that’s a scary thought.

 

So, how do you identify disengagement in your organisation? How does it present itself, because we know that our employees don’t always voice their position (well, some maybe very much do. You always get that one!) Here are some tell tale signs that your company has a high rate of employee disengagement:

 

-          You have high staff turnover and absenteeism

-          You have low productivity levels, and have difficulty in motivating your staff to stick to deadlines

-          You have low levels of enthusiasm and a huge lack of collective vision within the organisation.

 

If you have recognised your own small business in these signs, don’t rush out there to buy the first employee engagement survey you can get your hands on to try and find the problem area. These surveys do have their place but they can be costly and time consuming and therefore much more suited to larger businesses.

 

There is an easier and much more direct, and therefore time effective, way of starting to align your employees with your company vision so that they’re equally as excited to pass that on to your clients and customers.

 

The fist step is a little obvious when you think about it, but so overlooked by most business owners and CEO’s. Let me pose you this question: does your cleaner know what your company vision is and what your goal for this year is? No? Ok, let me ask you another question: Does your receptionist know what your goals and visions are? No again? Are you starting to see where I’m going with this? If only your management team know and are involved in your vision for the company, why would any of the employees be actively involved in helping the company succeed?

 

You also need to think about how you communicate the goals and vision to your workforce. Does it align with their own goals and values? Do you hold a brainstorming session with the team? Now, once they are aware of what the goals and vision for the company is, you need to think about how they communicate this to your clients and customers.

 

There are also some culture shifts that you need to implement as an ongoing “lifestyle” within your organisation.  I call it my five MAGIC tips for employee engagement success:

 

Meaningful Work:  Staff should have independence and they should be fit enough for their chosen career.

 

Active Leadership:  The business needs to have a clear vision and mission. Those in management need to lead their teams whilst ensuring that they learn.

 

Growth: Management needs to encourage a high impact learning culture within in the organization.

 

Inspiration: A company must invest in its employees, this builds a level of trust and a stronger relationship.

 

Culture: The principals of an organization must initiate a positive environment and a solid image of the company should be carried throughout all levels of the company.

 

At the end of the day, employee engagement should be a culture of participation in your company. It’s a lifestyle and it’s a relationship between the company and it’s employees that is the same as any relationship – it takes work and effort to foster a close long term commitment, but it can also increase your company’s turnover by 40%. Now that’s a number worth working for!

 

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