Inspiring and engaging employees can be hard at the best of times. When it is hot and sunny, employees would rather be outside basking in the sun. When it is cold, wet and windy, employees just want to stay at home curled up with a nice hot chocolate. You just can’t win.
So how can a business engage employees enough that when Sunday evening comes around, they aren’t wishing for another day off?
Well, the business itself can’t, but HR can. It is the job of those who work in HR to ensure employees are happy and engaged. Removing any barriers and seeking ways to improve employee satisfaction for their lucky workforce.
But to help employees, HR needs to understand the challenges and issues they are facing. The impact of disengaged employees is more than being just a bit unhappy, they can actually cause far larger issues for the business.
Top 4 Key employee engagement challenges facing HR
Unfortunately, almost everything can cause an employee to become disengaged. From the small things like running out of milk, the kitchen being untidy and being forced to do jobs outside of their role, all the way up to far bigger issues. Engagement can drop fast if it is ignored.
There are always a few telling signs that your business is facing an engagement problem.
- Increased absenteeism: Employees who are disengaged will constantly call in sick. Why would they want to go to work on a Monday when they can just call in sick and have a nice relaxing day at home? You may see lots of, “unplanned absences”, which are not employees who are ill, they simply just don’t want to come in.
- A decrease in productivity: Employees will stop going above and beyond and will put a minimal amount of effort into the work they do. Those disengaged employees will be slow to complete projects and will very rarely put themselves forward for extra work.
- Poor quality of work: Engaged employees will put their hearts and soul into the work they do. Disengaged employees will not. You will see that the quality of work employees produce rapidly decreases. They will stop checking their work and will put less effort into it in the first place.
- Employees leaving: Eventually, those employees will just say “enough” and leave. Even your longest-standing employees won’t stay for very long if they aren’t happy. There are numerous other companies that are looking after their employees and yours will just ship.
If you happen to see any of the above issues in your workplace, you might have an engagement problem.
Why employee engagement is important for your business
The importance of employee engagement can’t be underestimated. Like we mentioned above, disengaged employees will stop caring about their work and even stop coming to work altogether.
Increased absenteeism will cause understaffing issues, which for those at work being required to take on the extra workload. While these employees being forced to do more work, it can lead them to become stressed, which can lead to even more absenteeism.
A decrease in productivity coupled with employees not caring about their work will undoubtedly make its way to the customers. Causing customers to become irritated and leave.
Employees leaving costs the business. Not only will you be required to spend time and resources finding a suitable replacement, but you will also then have to train them up and wait for them to get up to speed. This can take a long time and you may need help from other employees to train them.
In fact, there is a kind of employee engagement cycle and by ignoring it, your business will ultimately suffer.
The employee engagement cycle works a bit like this:
Employees stop caring > employees quality of work decreases > customers receive poor service > customers become irritated > customer complain and leave bad reviews > management notice the negative impact > managers discuss this with the employee > employee becomes frustrated > they will then stop caring . . . and thus, the cycle starts again.
By simply ensuring that you are keeping an eye on employee engagement, removing any barriers if you see them, and helping employees, will massively help your business.
How to improve employee engagement
Improving employee engagement really isn’t difficult and with a few simple steps, everyone within your business will be engaged and productive.
1. Use the right tools
This is one of the most common ways employees become disengaged. Why should it take an employee an hour to book a day off or spend ages filling out a paper return to work form? By using tools and systems that hinder employee productivity won’t just, hinder employee productivity, it will frustrate them to no end.
Poor systems and a lack of digitalization are having a negative effect on workplace productivity with 42% of those who work in HR, saying this was the number one problem.
Providing tools that help employees and enable them to do their job easier and more efficiently, will ensure there is less frustration amongst staff and keep everyone happy and engaged.
2. Listen to employees
By this we don’t mean; send out a survey to everyone and see what the big problems are. Everyone is an individual with different opinions and wants different things.
Yes, sending a survey is a great way to start and will help you gain insight into what employees want, but it is only a start. You need to survey employees then sit down and talk to them. Dig a little deeper with the results, ask more questions, and most importantly, listen!
3. Look after employees
And once you have listened to everyone, help them. The worse thing you can do is ask employees what their issues are, then decide their issues aren’t big enough and ignore them. This will cause employees to become extremely angry and you guessed it, become disengaged.
Now whilst we aren’t saying you need to cater to everyone, you should look to engage employees on a personal level. Provide all different kinds of socials, not just drinking ones. Offer multiple benefits to cater to everyone. Allow people to work from home or offer flexible working.
There is no secret to building employee engagement. It comes from listening to employees and ensuring any they have the tools to do their jobs effectively. We can help you to listen, and provide you with the tools you need. Our absence management platform is a self-service platform that allows employees to book annual leave, check their holiday entitlement, and do much more. All without the need to speak to HR or their manager.
Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.