How can smaller businesses engage employees?

Businesses are more competitive than ever when it comes to attracting the best people. Hardly surprising – if engaged employees mean 87% less staff turnover,* it really makes commercial sense to keep employees happy.

The buzzword is employee engagement. But how do smaller businesses achieve this? Their larger rivals have many more resources to devote to pay and reward. Does this mean smaller businesses can’t compete?

Not at all. The key is to have a clear employee value proposition – in other words, strong, compelling reasons why people should work for you. If people are your biggest asset, it really pays to think it through.

Why should employees choose you, do their best work for you, and stay loyal to you? The answers lie in a host of things. Your pay and reward package, certainly. Tailored employee benefits that people will really appreciate. A wellbeing policy that puts employees first. Clear, well-articulated and shared values. Supportive HR and good management. Passionate, visible leadership.

There’s nothing to stop small mid-tier and smaller business achieving this. However, it can’t necessarily be built all at once.

So where’s a good place to start? There are many entry points, which form different parts of the jigsaw. Here are a few suggestions for making sure employee engagement is part of your culture.

  1. Be clear about what business goals you want to achieve through your workplace wellbeing strategy (reduce absence rates? Increase productivity?). Yes, wellbeing is about people, but it has to have a business case too if it’s going to be embraced by senior management and become embedded in your culture.
  2. Take a holistic view. Wellbeing and engagement don’t just touch on health, feeling good, fitness or food. It’s about all these and more. So be sure to look at your company values, processes, employee benefits, communications, physical environment and management style.
  3. Who better to ask than your employees? Get their view on what would make a difference – preferably through an independent outsider who can ask tough questions and get honest answers.
  4. Make sure HR is part of your solution, working together with wellbeing, employee benefits and other departments. Equipping managers with the right skills, revisiting policies, developing values – all this and more contributes to employee engagement, and HR has a vital role to play.
  5. Evaluate what you do. True, not everything that counts can be counted and there will be many intangible outcomes. But there’s nothing wrong with knowing what’s worked and why.

If employee engagement is truly meaningful, it will be driven by your values, and if it’s holistic, it will come from directors, managers, HR and every part of the business.

To discuss how to make this integral to your business, please get in touch. We’ll be more than happy to help.

*Gallup. Engaged Employees Inspire Company Innovation, 2006