9 ways to improve employee engagement

Engaged employees are more productive, more customer-focused and more loyal – and companies with high levels of employee engagement are more profitable, according to a number of studies over the past two decades. 

As far as buzzwords go, employee engagement remains at the top of the list for any organization that depends on its staff to translate value to its customers. A recent Employee Engagement & Benefits report by Raconteur showcases that as baby boomers begin to retire, “ambitious millennials are demanding more in terms of employee engagement and benefits than any generation before them.” In fact, in the same report, a not so surprising 60% of workers would be more productive if they felt happy at work. Employee engagement at ISS is measured through a combination of an annual survey, a postal, a telephone or an on-line analysis targeted at ISS employees. Over the years we’ve gathered results on the extent and drivers of employee engagement - and identified nine common themes that have helped improve employee engagement.

9 recommendations to improve employee engagement

ISS_9 ways to improve_employee_engagement

1. The principal recommendation to come from this research is that frontline service providers should recognise the important role played by supervisors and immediate managers in fostering employee engagement. The role should be reframed to emphasise the importance of relationship-orientated behaviours – as well as enhanced visibility, high accessibility, and increased face-time with employees. Where appropriate, the profile of the people recruited to these roles, their role specifications and training need to be adapted to reflect this crucial aspect of the job.

2. Overall, it is recommended that companies adopt a more focused organisational approach to improving employee engagement – from high-level measures such as the formation of an engagement board through to company-wide awareness training and worker involvement programmes. To realise the full benefits of employee engagement, it needs to be taken seriously at all levels – even as far as incorporating engagement and customer satisfaction dimensions into the employee bonus scheme.

3. Establishing an engagement board made up of senior personnel from across the business to promote a culture of engagement. The Board could set up ‘engagement forums’ to understand engagement better from the employee perspective; an ‘engagement task force’ could implement new approaches and ‘engagement champions’ could be appointed to raise awareness of the importance and power of employee engagement.

4. Setting up engagement focus groups comprising operational service managers to complement and enhance the annual employee survey. The focus groups would be driven by employees and could act as a feedback mechanism on the annual survey and actions taken as a result of the survey.

5. Providing engagement awareness training for all levels of supervision and management to explain the importance of engagement, the benefits of high levels of engagement, and the barriers to engagement.

6. Carrying out a full review of communication to develop strategies and tactics that serve to enhance engagement, such as coverage of employee awards events, recognition stories, case studies, and recognising employee achievements. As highlighted by the research findings it is also considered essential that communication is seen from the perspective of employees, and not exclusively from the perspective of managers.

7. Implementing worker involvement programmes to facilitate engagement, for example, involvement in health and safety to ensure employees become engaged in the safety aspects of their work, thereby facilitating improvements, and promoting the company’s safety programme.

8. Where possible the concept of working in teams to enhance engagement should be piloted as the research findings highlight the benefits of strong attachment to co-workers. It is believed that this could lead to improved productivity.

9. Reconfiguring company bonus schemes, (which are typically based on financial results only) to also recognise improvements in employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

Finally, it is recommended that further research be carried out into different aspects of employee engagement from the viewpoint of frontline service workers, to develop approaches to improve engagement, avoid burnout and create competitive advantage.

Do you have recommendations for improving employee engagement within your organisation? Share in the comments below!

This blog post is based on ISS’ Employee engagement - the crucial role of the supervisor whitebook.