What is staff engagement?
Staff engagement is about connecting with your staff so that they feel more of a part of your business and brand. Engagement is done in such a way that they feel more inclined to give you as much of their time, effort and commitment as possible, and that they are justly rewarded for that. Engagement is not about you telling and them listening, but a two-way learning process where their ideas matter.
Organisations who engage with their workforce will have open and honest communication and a sharing way of working. This leads to trust and mutual respect and an atmosphere of sharing and learning together, rather than blaming and fear or a culture of just doing what you are paid to do and no more.
Staff who engage with their employer like to feel they have a level of recognition and an understanding of what they’re capable of doing. In turn the employer utilises their skills as well as enabling the staff members to feel heard and listened to. A big frustration for a lot of staff when we asked them “Why did you leave an employer?” is that they didn’t feel their skills were being utilised. So that’s something that for me is really important to consider.
I also often hear staff say about their employer ?Well, communication is poor” or “The leadership is poor or The leader or the owner of the business didn’t seem to see what was needed to help the business” and “They wouldn’t listen to me, even though I speak to the clients and know what they need?. What they are saying is: “I have ideas, would you like to consider them?”.
Engagement of staff has been around for many years and in that time many organisations have tried different approaches and different ideas. We are still learning and developing staff engagement in many fields but the area of enterprise and staff engagement is growing. On the whole, when we talk about staff engagement we mean improving communication with staff: helping your staff to feel involved in decisions within the organisation. When we consider enterprise as an engagement tool we are looking at ways of helping the staff to feel more involved in the development of the business and increasing its profitability, service standards and improve income streams.
So if we take that a step further, what we’re really saying is that there are staff within every organisation, however big or small it is, who probably could help you make that business more successful if only you asked them in the right way. If you ask them in the wrong way they’ll just disengage and do the basics, whereas actually if you can engage with them they will potentially help you by developing new ideas, ways of working and ways of bringing income into the organisation.
This is what we call engaging through enterprise development, which is the key to my work on engaging and developing more enterprising staff. This is about encouraging new enterprise within organisations, which may be social enterprises, in order to develop additional income for an organisation.
Rewarding engagement can come in many formats. Obviously there is monetary reward and that can be beneficial, but often staff are looking for other things such as a dual commitment to each other, feeling valued and heard or an opportunity to try something new or learn something different.For some staff the reward is building a stronger organisation for the future and ensuring they can continue to do the work they do for the clients they work with.