It’s that time of year when we are heading back to work after a well-deserved break over Christmas/ New Year. Some of us will spring back to the office energised and invigorated, glad to be back and ready to tackle another year of work and all the highs and lows that will come along with it. But many of us may drag ourselves back to the office cringing at the thought of another long year of work and dreaming of ways to retire early and leave work behind for good. As a manager, you need to be aware of this potential dip in morale and cultivate an atmosphere of enthusiasm, unity and renewed commitment for the year ahead. Having staff who have the attitude that they are just ‘showing up’ in their jobs to perform a transactional exchange of work in order to get paid is a recipe for disaster when it comes to productivity and a strong corporate culture. They simply aren’t bringing their hearts and minds into the mix.
If you want a high performing team, you need to put extra effort in to re-engage your staff after their summer holiday. Only when staff are mentally ‘back on board’ and actively engaged will they be motivated and productive in the work they are doing. Employees who are actively engaged are more willing to go above and beyond what is expected of them to get the job done.
Employee engagement has been defined by Willis Tower Watson as “the deep and broad connection that employees have with a company, as well as their voluntary and enthusiastic commitment to its success”. Whilst employee engagement remains a primary focus for most businesses, there’s been a subtle shift in this aspect of business management amongst some of the world's most progressive companies. The shift has evolved from focusing on employee engagement to focusing more on the broader employee experience. So, what’s the difference? According to Willis Tower Watson there are four basic dimensions to employee experience (or the reason people actually work). Essentially, the workforce of today and of the future will need to be:
- inspired by a strong sense of purpose in an inclusive environment
- doing great work in a thriving organisation
- connecting with great people and great leaders
- rewarded and achieving their potential
Leadership boards in the most progressive organisations are recognising the need for great employee experience and are not only creating employee experience departments but are reshaping their strategy and structure to allow a multi-disciplinary approach that embraces a positive employee experience at all levels of the business.
How can you enhance employee experience in your business?
A good starting point to set off the year on the right foot is to embrace the concept of generating a positive employee experience for your staff by focusing on the outlined dimensions listed above. Recognise the subtle difference between employee engagement and the broader concept of employee experience. More opportunities for cultivating positive employee experiences will lead to deeper employee engagement all round. Here’s just a few ideas to kick start 2020 with a healthy focus on building good employee experience:
- Gather the team together to reignite a connection on a group and individual level, to the higher meaning of the work you are all doing. Does your business perform services that contribute to the greater good of society? What are the individual customer stories that really bring that to life? For example, an insurance company can really highlight their purpose by telling the stories of the people they have actually helped who may have lost their home and been able to rebuild their lives due to their payouts. Meeting and/ or hearing the life changing stories from these people can go a long way in reconnecting staff to the real reason they do they work they do and help them feel they are achieving something bigger than themselves.
- Plan opportunities for connecting employees with leaders for the year ahead. A good mix of planned formal meetings and one-on-one catch ups as well as team events that allow for more informal connections is a great way to contribute to employee engagement. Use these opportunities to welcome feedback, good and bad, and then ensure you act on it. These are also great opportunities to give positive feedback to keep staff motivated and engaged. Don’t underestimate the power of impromptu random moments to connect with staff, be it in the lift, in the kitchen, in passing in the corridor.
- Review and restructure your rewards and recognition policies and procedures. Are they really fulfilling their objectives of adequately rewarding and recognising staff for a job well done? It’s also important to reward the team incrementally as the year progresses. Re-jig your budget to place more value and importance on rewarding staff with bonuses, team days out, days off, or even a healthy degree of flexible working/ work from home opportunities that shows them you care about their mental well-being and life outside of work.
And of course, most importantly, look after yourself. There’s nothing more effective to building employee morale and engagement than by being actively engaged in the work you do yourself.
I specialise in bringing leaders together to collectively understand the importance of employee engagement and positive employee experience. Could your leadership team benefit from one of my tailored workshops? Please get in touch today. I’d love to help!