Maintaining employee engagement: New solutions for an old problem
Its the age old question, the age old issue. The question of employee engagement, the why, and the how.
The need to keep the workforce engaged is crucial to meeting strategic objectives, recognising that increased employee productivity is intrinsically linked to profitability. If employees are not engaged, with their role or with their learning and development, then inevitably, productivity suffers. In Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report, 9 out of 10 executives site the engagement of employees as either important or very important. No change there, then. The true test for organisations is to encourage not only a culture of engagement, but to assist and empower employees with incentives and feedback structures. In order for us to find new solutions, we may need to think of new methods, new ways to encourage and enthuse.
Employees need to feel that greater engagement will not only bring benefits and provide them with greater opportunities, but will also improve their chances of progress within the structure of the company. A greater emphasis on constant learning and development processes, flexible and easily accessed, can help alleviate some of the pressures employees feel, by recognising their achievements and providing them with regular constructive feedback. Increasingly, executives find that distance learning, or e-learning can provide the frameworks, not solely, maybe, but as part of broader initiatives. E-learning can be a part of the solution, certainly, but should exist as a part of a wider, more comprehensive structure in order to encourage engagement.
Clearing the pathway for progress
Crucial to encouraging employee engagement is providing staff with the opportunities to progress their careers, and removing obstacles and barriers to that progression. By creating a corporate culture of empowerment and opportunity, organisations are better placed to encourage a more enthused and energised workforce. Developing structures to better recognise the contribution of employees, and actively listening to their ideas also makes them more likely to engage. Ongoing L&D programmes are central to removing the line between workplace and classroom in order to enthuse their employees to upskill, and move forward and upwards in the organisation.
Ownership, autonomy and inclusion
Fully integrated learning and development should be self-led, giving employees a sense of ownership and autonomy. Providing them with well designed opportunities for progress and personal and professional growth is further likely to enable them to feel included and valued. Monitoring and the provision of constructive feedback, particularly as part of an ongoing and flexible training experience can also further enhance engagement. Putting the training in the hands of the employee, particularly through the flexibility and accessibility of e-learning platforms, leads staff members to feel better involved and a valued contributor to the organisation, and to feel more included and empowered, and therefore more engaged.
Inspired leaders inspiring leadership
Effective, enthused and inspired leaders are essential to ripple out new information from chief executive level down through the corporate structure. If companies are to use the methods and ideas we're discussing here, then mid-level managers may need separate L&D regimes, which is another benefit of the flexibility and accessibility of e-learning applications. It is important that management can enthuse staff to up-skill and progress through the levels of the corporate structure, and to envision themselves as future management material, encouraging engagement by forging and maintaining strong links between workforce and management. A recognition of the common goals of improved productivity, competitiveness, and profitability. All levels of the corporate structure should be well placed and better equipped to embrace the corporate culture, and its visions and values.
Harnessing social media for a more social corporate culture
Obviously, the modern age provides us with many digital solutions, bringing many new opportunities to communicate and interact. Recognising the strength, and harnessing the power of social media platforms could be another valuable tool in encouraging engagement. Organisations can inspire and develop better communication between employees by encouraging them to involve themselves in the organisation's social media platforms, sharing information and developing ideas in these forums, and enthusing each other in the process, and building an ownership culture into the everyday. Encouraging employees to engage in this way as a part of the everyday working process, a part of their role in the corporate structure, just as common as checking their email, or reading their Twitter feeds on the daily commute, serves to normalise engagement on a digital basis and helps change the mindset. The same processes work for digital learning and development. Little and often is best, bite-size learning for a few moments each day, improving employee engagement, and fostering a greater enthusiasm for the work, encourages further communication. Recognising the importance of employees' use of social media, and utilising those methods is key, in the digital age, to increasing engagement. Further to this, in fact, using digital methods to enhance and develop engagement is not just key in fact, but absolutely essential.
It remains important that organisations are mindful of the fact that employees, particularly 'millennials', those born after 1980, are the natives of this new digital world, and it is that world, their world, that guides their behaviour, their reactions, their communications and their inspirations.
Corporations should better position themselves to embrace these new beginnings, and to enable them to find exciting new solutions to the age old problem of employee engagement.