I’ve worked in many startups; my favorite part is getting involved in every aspect. “Operations” is still a loose thread flittering between the CEO and profits to write about. I joined my first one six years ago as a Google Ads intern and now run an off-page content team of 30+ writers.
On that journey, I learned a lot about employee engagement. I learned how we didn’t have to follow a rigorous schedule like our folks did in the 50s and that we could have flexibility, encouragement, and trust and still be very productive.
Saïd Business School at Oxford University researched and found that happy employees are 13% more productive. Those are good numbers when you consider the size of your company and general output. You want your employee to go that extra mile.
Apathy is not your friend on the team. If your employees are engaged, involved, and regarded as more than just cogs in a production line, they’ll work that bit extra. They’ll be more patient on customer calls, send that email before lunch rather than after (and subsequently forget about it), and ensure that your website’s UX is perfect and not just “good enough.”
Encouraging employee engagement is a huge step to consider when you move to scale and bring in more profits. From my own experience, anyhow. Read on if you wish to learn more from my own discoveries and observations.
5 ideas to boost employee engagement and how they build your profits
It comes as no surprise that you’re reading this article. If you’re a startup or small business owner, you’re gearing up for huge profit margins this year. As you will the next year and the year after. It’s almost natural to want to scale your business, and a very smart choice.
I’m delighted to have met the employee revolution of the 21st century: employee engagement.
Let’s be nice to employees, be grateful to them, and appreciate their hard work and loyalty. And what happened as a result? Businesses saw their profits soar. Gallup’s Q12 survey shows a 23% increase in profits with employee engagement. Now those are profits to write home about.
Check out these five ideas for some inspiration and material for when you build your employee engagement survey.
1. Establish clear communication channels for scheduling
“My door is always open” does not instill glimmering employee engagement. Sure, it’s a step up from “take a number and get in line”. What’s needed nowadays is a two-way communication channel where employees can reach you directly and vice versa, especially when it comes to scheduling.
One such industry known for its draconian style of schedule management is 24-hour call centers. It seems like every employee’s worst nightmare but also a righteous passage to be welcomed into the world of disgruntled laborers.
Call centers often lack communication channels where employees can comfortably and safely express their preferred working schedules. The best call center scheduler will allow you to listen to your employee to meet their needs.
They’ll be off work when needed, often juggling families, but now in a win/win way. They come into work more satisfied, with more gumption to complete their daily tasks, alas, more productive.
2. Assign only tasks they can complete
Coined as meaningful work, the idea is to not overwhelm your employees with tasks beyond their scope of competence. This is the point of your company scaling when you hire more staff. It’s normal for employees to wear many hats in a startup, but not all run-of-the-mill workers enjoy the electric buzz of multitasking.
If you expect your employees to do more than what they can, they’ll become quickly dissatisfied. They’ll feel used and unappreciated.
On another note, it’s the highway to burnout assigning too many tasks to one employee. If you hire well, they’ll be dedicated and loyal to your company, aiming to complete this overflow of assigned tasks, finishing burnout and resignation. That costs money too.
Engaging with your employees and asking them directly what expectations you can have of them will:
- Build appreciation
- Boost productivity
- Reduce overwhelm and burnout
You know what it’s like with tasks you don’t feel pumped about–you keep putting them off. Essentially, you become unproductive. So consider this train of thought for your employees too.
3. Recognize and reward achievements with one-to-one meetings
People are becoming numb to the whole “great place to work” fad that spread to engage employees. I won’t lie, foosball tables in the canteen are a great way to engage your employees, as are free lunches and coffee mornings, but Oz’s green curtain was draped aside and the world saw these intentions as a gimmick to just keep people in the workplace, precisely, not working remotely. (On a side note, remote working can be seen as a loss of control for typical micro-managers).
Do provide awesome perks, but get personal with them. Invite your employee to one-to-one sessions where you discuss all the positives.
- Task completion
- OKRs and KPIs that were hit
- Goals achieved
- Work mannerism
- Dedication, loyalty
The list can go on, and you don’t have to fear the taboo of these one-to-ones. If you need a push-start, look for some free one to one meeting templates. This space can also be used to listen to your employee’s feedback and suggestions for the overall company. Apply what they suggest, and you’ve got an employee for life on your hands.
4. Take an interest in their career progression
Referring to the 50’s working environment, employees are terrified to discuss their future. I know I used to be. Either someone will think you want their job or believe you think you’re better than your role or that you’re unhappy in your position and you want to leave.
An employee can be very happy, engaged, and productive but still wishes to progress professionally. Some people are naturally driven to succeed, ambitious, and you want them in your team. Look after them, and they’ll look after your company. And so what if they move on after three years? The more, the better for your reputation, and you’ll be able to bring in a replacement at a lower salary.
If your company is fully remote or hybrid, it’s still possible to provide training, upskilling, and mentoring. You can provide plenty of webinars and paid training courses to your staff.
Upskilling: Let it be known that upskilling is a perk to the job. Then, have the employee come to you with their preferred course. You can discuss the outcomes, how it’ll benefit the company, and if the employee will be truly satisfied with that direction.
Training: Employees often wish to migrate to another department. Especially common in startups where they get first-hand experience in running a business. If this is the case, if the employee has a natural flair for this role, then why not provide them with a course to get them started? Then, as your company grows, you already have the latest team member for that department.
Mentoring: Allow employees to contact senior staff to ask for mentoring. It could be a particular skill, a process, or the wish to be a C-suite executive someday. Don’t deny a person who wishes to grow. If you say no, they’ll find a willing competitor instead.
Employees who know they have a safe, trusted future will be very productive, directly attributed to your business’s success.
5. Empower and trust your employees
You must get it out of your head that only you can control your business’s success. Not at all, what you need to do is start by hiring exceptional people, then motivate them to help you succeed.
At the base, you need to trust your employees’ decisions; accept their accolades, and encourage them to make decisions without consulting higher management. You hired them for their expertise and savoir-faire, now let them on with it.
I worked for one company that had a huge employee turnover due to micromanagement. Everyone felt suffocated and threaded upon. Of course, when goals weren’t met, the blame stayed with them too.
To drive your business success, you must realize it’s not just you navigating the ship. Engage your employees with empowerment and chomp on the big juicy fruits of your labor.
Happy workforce, happy profits, happy you
I’ve seen firsthand how a motivated workforce will become engaged. It’s not just productivity that drives success, but collaboration, ideation, active listening, and recognition of your employees’ abilities.
Spend time, money, and effort; your employees will spend their intellectual capital on your business success.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is employee engagement, and why is it important for business success?
Employee engagement refers to the emotional commitment and dedication employees have towards their work, which goes beyond just fulfilling their job duties. It’s important for business success–engaged employees are more productive, innovative, and likely to contribute positively to the company’s growth.
How does employee engagement impact business profitability?
Employee engagement has positively impacted business profitability by increasing productivity and reducing turnover. Studies have demonstrated that engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile, resulting in improved customer service, higher quality work, and, ultimately, increased profits.
Can you provide some statistics on the relationship between employee engagement and profits?
Certainly. Research conducted by Saïd Business School at Oxford University revealed that happy employees can be up to 13% more productive. Gallup’s Q12 survey also indicated that companies with high employee engagement experience a 23% profit increase.
What are some strategies to boost employee engagement in the workplace?
Several effective strategies to boost employee engagement include establishing clear communication channels, assigning tasks that match employees’ abilities, recognizing and rewarding achievements through one-to-one meetings, supporting career progression, and empowering and trusting employees to make decisions.