So far in October we have looked at employee engagement and internal communications from a distance. The blogs in this series centred on stats and facts to prove the correlation between engaged staff and productivity. As such it’s time to get tangible and talk about easy steps to take that can actually improve employee engagement.
Gallup, an organisation that sets the standard for employee engagement, has provided the backbone for much of our research. Its State of the Global Workforce report clearly highlights the link between productivity and engaged staff. Currently, the data shows just 15% of worldwide employees feel engaged by their employer.
This figure varies dramatically between regions, though. So in Northern Europe the peaks is 17%, in Norway. For the UK you’re looking at 11%. Head further south and this drops off, with France, Italy and Spain coming in at under 10%.
Crossing the Atlantic, the US and Canada fair far better— 31%. East Asia is shamed with the lowest rate of engaged employees in the world; China gets just 6%, South Korea and Taiwan do a little better at 7%, and Hong Kong can only muster 5%.
So what are the differences between territories?
If you look at workplace culture, and working cultures, then some light can be shed on the matter.
The US and Canada are world leaders when it comes to managerial styles that embrace individuality and allow greater flexibility. Both of which are key aspects in bolstering employee engagement.
Here in Europe things are more varied. Scandinavia is famed for its work-life balance, with many companies enforcing shorter hours on staff. Innovation is also a big economic driver— just look at Norway’s current attempt to move from from fossil fuel powerhouse to carbon neutral energy source.
Asia, on the other hand, has long been plagued by negative workplace cultures. Hours are, on the whole, far longer than in the West. Businesses demand complete dedication from teams and traditional hierarchical structures remain dominant.
Fail to improve employee engagement and you’ll lose money
The impact of low employee engagement is huge. Gallup calculated the collective cost of the 85% of employees who don’t feel engaged is around $7trillion in productivity.
It pays serious cash to rise to the challenge and look to join the top quartile of companies with good employee engagement. These firms enjoy 17% better productivity and 21% more profitability on average.
What can you do to improve employee engagement?
Last week one of our posts looked at Deloitte’s recommendations for improving internal communications. This is a fundamental step in boosting overall employee engagement.
It doesn’t stop there, though. Here are more five easy pieces of the puzzle you’ll need to fit together in order to achieve genuinely positive change.
*Keep up with technological developments
This benefits companies two-fold, at least. For one thing, staff will be more interested in situations that provide a chance to train, learn new skills and use cutting edge kit. It also stops basic tasks becoming overly-laborious, freeing up more time for innovative thinking.
We’ve already mentioned how flexibility can significantly improve levels of employee engagement by increasing satisfaction. Here at Smoking Gun we have taken bold steps towards creating working days that suit staff as well as clients. This doesn’t have to go to the extremes of a four day week, either, if that’s not for you.
*Listen and adapt
In some ways this is catch-22. If employees are not engaged they are less likely to give any useful feedback upon consultation. However, it’s vital to consult properly– take a look at Gallup’s Q12 for ideas on what you need to ask. Then, when you get responses, act on that information to show staff they are being heard.
*Don’t make it simple
Employee engagement is not a simple concept. Offering freebies, bonuses and other material rewards isn’t the real answer. Sure, this can be nice, but it’s so often more bandaid than cure. You need to look at the difficult truths of where you are failing and consider the effect these areas have on staff to make real progress.
*Do audit on an ongoing basis
Just as employee engagement is not a simple concept nor is it a one-time concern. No company can maintain standards without also looking to improve continuously, as those who stand still fall behind. Once you’re succeeding with attempts to improve employee engagement think about what else can be done to see those percentages climb even further, along with productivity.