strengthening employee engagement now for 2023

blog: One size all doesn’t solve all

We often get asked what can be done to help foster staff engagement levels in a business and whether our team building sessions can stem the flow of staff departures. This article sheds some light on the answer to retaining talent.

The short answer is that our team building events alone are unlikely to discourage staff from leaving a company, but they will serve to foster a sense of purpose and meaning within a business, help unite a team behind a common goal and foster a culture for shared caring for others.

Our sessions will also serve to unite a group and deliver a sense of belonging, which is often a key missing ingredient and forms the basis of the all-important emotional attachment to a team, but they should not be the only tool a leader should use in their tool kit….

“The fall in staff morale is a real cause for concern, in particular in the numbers of staff who are considering leaving the workforce which has risen to just under a third (31%) since last year.” – Matthew Taylor

This quote may be unsurprising to you considering it was said by the Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation in response to the published results from their NHS staff survey, I would suggest that there are many close parallels to any member of the workforce and not just limited to people working in the field of medicine.

After the year that most people have all had, following two years of uncertainty, isolation, insecurity and upheaval, this is a time for settling your people, strengthening the bonds and celebrating getting to the end of the year.

As we truly emerge from the COVID pandemic era and have finally come to grips by and large with how to live in a post COVID world, it is time to renew the connections with our people and put a full stop on 2022.

Team building is but one such way of doing this and certainly it is not the silver bullet. The way in which leaders lead their people and managers manage their team is the real key to success. In the face of disruption, open communications and trust are vital antidotes to fear and uncertainty.

The murky world of staff disengagement

According to Gary Culverhouse in his article back in January that I will lean on heavily in this article along with statistics he included from Gallup, more than 40% of the global workforce were considering leaving their employers in the past year. The prospect of what has been called ‘The Great Resignation’ is indeed a frightening prospect considering the impact, cost and setbacks staff turnover bring.

As Gary highlighted, the key strategic step to preventing staff departures is building employee engagement as this is central to workforce productivity levels, stability and overall company performance.

The reverse of this Gary highlighted was that in the US for example, low employee engagement before the pandemic cost $US 500 billion a year! He reported that the equivalent figure for employee disengagement in Australia was $2 billion per annum and that absenteeism costs Australian employers in excess of $35 billion each year.

If this was not reason alone to foster staff engagement consider that:

  • highly engaged workforces can increase a company’s profitability by 21%
  • highly engaged teams sell 20% more.
  • More than 80% of customers are retained by engaged workforces
  • Highly engaged organisations have 41% lower absenteeism
  • Disengaged workers have 49% more accidents
  • Reversing the trend

So what are the solutions to stem the rising levels of staff churn?

  1. Managers account for 70% of engagement variance. Strong leadership is the key. Leading by example, inspiring respect and trust, truly listening to your people, giving a damn about them and doing what you can to address their needs and concerns.
  2. Internal comms motivate 85% of employees to become more engaged. Building connections through communications, sharing of information and simply keeping people in the light rather than the dark, are tenets to building engagement levels.
  3. Recognition is a prime motivator for 37% of employees. Who wouldn’t be a little motivated at least for being recognised, be that a promotion or a simple thank you. Any form of appreciation warms the heart and feeds the soul and yet managers and leaders are often bad at this and forget to “catch people doing things right.” I was told that the ratio for praise to feedback should be 4:1, so I should find ways to acknowledge and congratulate others four times more than giving criticism (of any kind).
  4. Company culture is a key factor for 46% of job seekers. As per the statistic reported by TeamStage in their ‘2022 Company Culture Statistics: Leadership and Engagement’ Report blog I believe that there is a fourth pillar around company culture and the sense of meaning and purpose that a company fosters in the workplace. And, in my opinion, what is true for job seekers will translate directly to existing employees.

One such platform to cultivate a healthy culture like this is in the way companies engage and support charities and offer individual and corporate volunteering opportunities for their staff to make a difference in the lives of others less fortunate than themselves. This sense of a higher and shared purpose, in my opinion, can provide a blanket of warmth, solidarity and connection to a team. This won’t make up for the failure of any company ion not addressing the top three solutions/areas, but it can go a long way to making up for them and when these three are in place, it can take team cohesion, unity and loyalty to a whole new level.

Now What?

We won’t know for sure until next year whether ‘The Great Resignation’ turned out to be as bad as many anticipated, but whether everyone’s fears materialise or not, the principle of focusing on building staff engagement levels holds true and should be adopted by leaders as good practice and the standard in business.

 

In any case, as Gary highlighted in his article, none of the solutions to building staff engagement and retaining employees are quick fixes and take continual commitment from leaders and their management teams to foster connections, listen and adapt solutions, but like all great road trips, you need to start somewhere and just start driving!

And special thanks to Gary Culverhouse for his 25/1/2022 blog on ‘Employee Engagement 2022: the statistics you should know’.

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