Any workplace is only as good as its workforce, so employers strive to attract and retain the best people. Unfortunately this is not as simple as it used to be.
15th September marks Pension Awareness day, and in the past a pension scheme was an attractive benefit. Many people missed out on valuable benefits because their employer didn’t offer them a pension.
Workplace pensions and automatic enrolment have changed this. It is now compulsory for employers to automatically enrol eligible workers into a pension scheme, and the employer must also pay money into it.
Today’s employees – particularly millennials, who by 2020 will make up 35% of the global workforce – expect more from an employer than fair pay and a pension.
They’re looking for:
- Flexible working arrangements
- More time with their manager
- Fast career progression
- Opportunities to develop skills
- Recognition for achievements
- A sociable working environment
- A socially responsible employer
These things, alongside a workplace pension, can of course form part of an attractive benefits package that will likely get quality candidates through the door. Additional perks such as duvet days, dress down Friday and company nights out are also becoming popular and are beneficial in their own ways. But a happy employee is not the same as an engaged employee, and engagement is key to retaining staff.
What is employee engagement?
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) defines employee engagement as “being positively present during the performance of work by willingly contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections to others.”
In other words, it is the emotional commitment an employee has to their organisation and its goals. It is when someone genuinely cares about their job and their company. It means they are willing to go the extra mile because they feel valued.
How to improve employee engagement.
There is no shortcut to building and maintaining employee engagement, and it may well mean a cultural shift in leadership and line management, but the foundation of an engaged workforce is good people management and good learning and development practices.
The approach to fostering employee engagement will vary between organisations, but the first step should be to measure employee attitudes to establish any issues that can then be remedied. This can be done through a survey, but make sure questions are specific enough to get to the root of any issues.
Do your staff have access to the things they need to do their job well? Do they feel they receive appropriate recognition when they perform well? Do they see their managers as good role models?
You can use the results of an employee attitude survey to identify areas for action, which in turn will inform an employee engagement plan.
Why it’s important to have engaged employees.
Research has demonstrated there is a relationship between how people are managed, employee attitudes and business performance.
Put simply, engaged employees lead to better business because they deliver a higher level of service. This in turn leads to increased customer satisfaction, increased sales, more profits and ultimately higher shareholder returns.
Trade tools supplier Screwfix provides a great example of this in action. Its ‘your Screwfix, your say’ engagement initiative which has brought many benefits to the business, staff members and customers.
The programme delivers around half a million pieces of individual feedback a year and store staff are encouraged to report on every aspect of the way they are managed and how they think the company is serving customers. As well as being able to point to increased sales, Screwfix reported in 2016 that it had reduced staff turnover levels by 20%.
In September 2018 sales at Screwfix increased by 10.4% to £802m, with the company having opened 21 new locations and the company aiming to open around a hundred more.
A successful employee engagement scheme is also beneficial in terms of brand reputation, as engaged employees are more likely to be strong advocates for their employers.
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