Four ways to keep good employees engaged
With the increasingly important role of good customer relationships in tough economic times, the engagement levels of company employees can make all the difference between customer retention and defection. Consequently, Strategic Connections has compiled a checklist to ensure the integrity of the workforce, both now and when the economy recovers.
Most forward-thinking employers have come to understand that engaged employees can significantly outperform those who are not engaged in their work, and the positive results of an engaged workplace are well documented, with benefits including better service and customer loyalty, improved individual performance, and reduced costs associated with safety and absenteeism.
The recent downturn in the economy is having negative effects on engagement levels and this is something every business should be concerned about, warns Ken Milloy, senior strategy consultant for Strategic Connections: "While engaged employees can't make the recession disappear, they can certainly help companies get through it with far more success than would otherwise be possible."
Disturbingly, the company has recently found that many companies are not only cutting back on investments in employee engagement, but they are actively reducing one of its cornerstones: open internal communications. Not surprisingly, this problem usually leads to damaging rumours, speculation, and unnecessary worry among employees, which in turn impacts the way they deal with customers.
The four key areas on which companies should focus during the recession, according to Strategic Connections' four-point checklist, are as follows:
- A clear and compelling direction Employers should ensure they have a clear and compelling direction or story to share with their staff. This story needs to include a bit about what the company has to be proud of, a summary of what is happening, a concise picture of where it's headed, and how it will get there with everyone playing their part. This story must be shared widely, repeatedly and consistently.
- Open, honest communications Use all lines of communication with openness and honesty at the heart of all interactions. While many employers keep the bad news away from their staff, the ones that perform well share it, discuss it and seek ways to move forward. Keeping the bad news quiet rapidly increases the rumour mill, negative attitudes and an overall feeling of dispiritedness that hinders all areas of individual and business performance.
- Management should discuss news with staff Ensure that managers and front line leaders actively share and discuss news and information with staff and recognise people for their efforts. They should focus on desirable behaviours and thank those who exhibit the right ones. Of course, managers can only do this if they are engaged and able to model the desired behaviours themselves.
- Focus on career development Continue to focus on careers, growth and development. By focusing on career development, companies will send a clear message to employees that they are moving forward and very much want them as a part of that future.