Practical Employee Engagement

Practical Employee Engagement


Practical Employee Engagement for SME's

Employee engagement is vital to the long term success of a business. High staff turnover, loss of your best employees, and low productivity all damage a business and drain resources. People are after all a company's greatest asset, and to attract and retain the best people, companies must offer an engaging experience. 

But what exactly do we mean by employee engagement?  It's one of those buzz terms that gets banded about without proper definition. 

Wikipedia defines it succinctly as:

Employee engagement is a property of the relationship between an organisation and it's employees. An 'engaged employee' is defined as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organisations reputation and interests.

An organization with "high" employee engagement might therefore be expected to outperform those with "low" employee engagement. 

According to Gallup, worldwide employee engagement is a staggeringly low 15%.

Most discussion and advice on employee engagement, to me, seems to be targeted at huge corporations with lots of people and financial resources. While they're important, total employment in SMEs was 15.7 million in the UK in 2016, making up 60% of all private sector employment (figures obtained from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills).

I believe there's huge scope for SME's to introduce employee engagement and to benefit from a more productive workforce.

As millennials form more and more of the workforce, the relationship between employers and employees is changing. Employee experience emerged as a top priority in organisations as a way to recruit and retain top talent, improve customer and employee satisfaction, and increase overall performance. 

As Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends states: 

In a digital world with increasing transparency and the growing influence of Millennials, employees expect a productive, engaging, enjoyable work experience. Rather than focus narrowly on employee engagement and culture, organizations are developing an integrated focus on the entire employee experience, bringing together all the workplace, HR, and management practices that impact people on the job.

A new marketplace of pulse feedback tools, wellness and fitness apps, and integrated employee self-service tools is helping HR departments understand and improve this experience. 

But what can a small to medium enterprise do to try and understand and improve employee engagement?

Our five basic steps:

1. Define what do you want to achieve. It may seem like a daft question, but it's so often missed and is integral to success. As an employer you must define your company values in order that you can live up to them. Furthermore, you must define what you want to discover in and encourage from your workforce. 

2. Find out what your people think. Use an anonymous survey, to gather quantitative feedback and/or discussion groups for qualitative back up and more fleshed out responses. This feedback will give you a baseline from which you plan your future approach. 

3. Find out what your people value. Part of developing the working environment and moving towards improving more engaged employees is establishing what they value. This can cover everything from the basis of remuneration, the benefits and perks available, health, flexibility, input, autonomy, education and appreciation. 

4. Implement your improved approach. Start to evolve the way that you treat and interact with your staff to move your organisation toward the approach and values your employees want. 

5. Monitor and manage. An annual survey is a token gesture and does not live the values of a company who claims to be motivated by engaging their people.  Managers need tools to consistently deliver and stimulate employees. Undertaking regular pulse surveys, one question per week or three once a month, provide a continual stream of information enabling you to keep on top of your employees views and let them know you are maintaining an interest in their continued engagement.  

The culmination of this is simple - what is good for your employees is good for your business. 

So, if you value your employees why not take steps to learn about them and how engaged they are at work. 


Populo are independent financial advisers who specialise in working with companies to implement staff benefits solutions and improve employee recruitment and retention. We have qualified in-house researchers who conduct both quantitative surveys and qualitative research to ensure that we can put together an offering that will be valued by your employees. 

If you'd like to know more, we'd love to hear from you:

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