How to Establish a Culture of Employee Engagement | EAPA-SA

According to Wikipedia, “an engaged employee is one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organisation’s interest.”  Successful organisations understand the importance of developing employees who are engaged and share a common goal. 1

The bottom line

It takes time, energy and involvement to developing an organisational culture that supports employee engagement; however research indicates that highly engaged organizations see an average of 20% higher sales than their disengaged counterparts. Recent research suggests that the same manager behaviours that drive engagement also simultaneously drive business results.

The concept known as the Engagement-Profit Chain expresses that the discretionary effort of engaged employees starts a series of events in a chain reaction as follows:

“Engaged Employees lead tohigher service, quality, and productivity, which leads to…higher customer satisfaction, which leads to…increased sales, which leads to…higher levels of profit, which leads to…higher shareholder returns ” 2

Here are ten secrets to creating an organisational culture that nurtures employee engagement

1.Help employees understand the vision

Organisations that explicitly nurture a culture of employee engagement have a well defined and then well communicated vision, with a leadership team who take responsibility for setting and communicating the vision, as well as keeping it top of mind in their employees.  Employees who buy into an organisation’s vision, and believe in what their employer does and why, are more likely to remain committed and loyal.

2. Communicate constantly 

Regular and well executed communication can be one of the most important tools an organisation has at its disposal to foster a culture of engagement.  Employees spend a significant portion of their life at work and are interested in what is going on within the organisation – including how the organisation is faring financially, if key goals have been successfully achieved and how playing their part contributes to reaching corporate objectives.

3. Provide management training

A large body of research suggests that employees leave organisations because of their direct supervisor.  Provide leadership training to engender positive interactions between workers and their first-line supervisors as part of an employee engagement strategy – including how information is shared, how employees perceive equality among themselves and how well supervisors demonstrate their care for individual employees.

4. Help employees develop to their full potential 

Employees like to feel like that what they do is valued and makes a difference. They also want the opportunity to develop and grow professionally. This is particularly true of Millennial employees for whom professional development is one of the most important factors in job satisfaction.

They need opportunities not only to grow within their position, but also to grow within their organisation. This type of development can be accomplished by having a defined developmental plan for each employee.  Managers should be trained to consistently coach in fine tuning their skills and developing new ones.  Performance appraisals are an excellent tool to identify areas where an employee needs and desires development and then to come up with a plan to provide coaching or training to gain these skills.

5. Create a healthy team environment

Employee engagement hinges on how well employees get along and interact with one another – and participate in a team environment.  Actively developing a strong team helps to foster engaged employees.  Everyone wants to feel like they belong to a community, a team and a family.

Provide training in team leadership skills and call on all employees to participate. Understanding the basics of effective teamwork will help employees to be on the same page and embrace the team concept.

6. Create a culture of trust

Trust is the foundation for healthy work environments and employees need to trust the organisation, their leadership and each other. Employees are constantly watching leadership to see how their decisions affect the welfare and strategic direction of their organisation – as well as if they ‘walk the talk’.  Create code of ethics and teach employees and leadership the value of steering and running an organisation with integrity.

7. Communicate clear expectations

In the main, employees come to work desiring to do a good job, but to succeed they need to know what is expected of them. This can be accomplished by providing employees with specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), as well as the training and tools they need to perform their job.

Once expectations have been clearly communicated, employees need to be held accountable for achieving their goals through a structured performance management process.

8. Reward and Recognition

Employees need to feel acknowledged as a valued part of an organisation.  Strong leadership takes care to demonstrate how much they value their employees and show regular recognition for employee efforts. More than handing out accolades annually, rewards and recognition should be integrated into the way employees are managed on a day-to-day basis.  Create programs to show employee appreciation and use staff meetings to give kudos to your top performing employees.

9. Solicit employee feedback 

Employees are on the front line and are knowledgeable as to how best work should be performed. They need to feel that they are an integral part of the process, that their thoughts and ideas matter, and that they have a platform to voice their input and suggestions. Actively soliciting employee feedback and visibly incorporating employee thoughts and ideas into how the organisation operates is an excellent way to engage employees. Create employee advisory teams who can work with leadership to improve the work environment.

10. Remuneration and benefits in line with the marketplace

While remuneration and benefits are not the ‘make or break’ of employee engagement, offering competitive compensation, with benefits and reasonable working conditions, is an excellent strategy for strong employee engagement. Create a compensation strategy and use benchmark data to ensure that remuneration is competitive in your local market. The last thing you want is for a valued employee to jump ship because they feel inadequately paid and are worth more in the marketplace.



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