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Why are employee engagement and employee voice important?

We've all done a job we hated

We've all worked in jobs that we didn't enjoy. We showed up, did the bare minimum and went home. Once we got home, we searched for other jobs and told our friends and family never to work for that awful company as they treated us poorly. The pay was low, our managers just saw us as a number, the benefits were awful and most of all our managers and the leadership of the business never listened to us so there were lots of things that could have been done to make the business work better which fell on deaf ears until the point where people just stopped pointing them out because well, what was the point?

How many of us still work for these organisations and where are those businesses now? In a nutshell, I'd describe companies like this as having poor employee engagement and a lack of focus on their employee voice. As business owners, no one wants to own a business like this. We want our people to be happy or at the very least we want our business to be profitable and the two things go hand in hand. But what are employee engagement and employee voice and why should you be bothered about them?

What is employee engagement?

According to the CIPD, there's no one definition of employee engagement and an internet search will give you upwards of 50 different definitions. According to Forbes, employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to an organisation. According to Glint, employee engagement is the degree to which employees invest their cognitive, emotional and behavioural energies towards achieving positive business outcomes. So we're essentially talking about winning over hearts and minds.

What do we mean when we use the term employee voice?

According to the CIPD, employee voice is the way people communicate their views to their employer and influence matters that affect them at work.

Why are these things important?

Put simply, your people make your business. Some of the key benefits of employee engagement are;

  • Increased productivity

  • Reduced employee turnover

  • Better relationships within your organisation and with your customers

  • A positive impact on your profits

  • The creation of a better workplace culture

Gallup conducted a meta-analysis of 263 research studies across 192 organisations in 49 industries in 34 countries to look at how employee engagement affects performance. The survey found that those with the highest scores when it came to employee engagement had four times the success rate of those with the lowest scores. Paying attention to employee engagement can massively affect the success of your business.

Ultimately, employee engagement can positively affect your bottom line if nurtured correctly. Linked to this, it's really important that people feel they have a voice within the organisation. Whilst businesses are ultimately run by their leaders and owners, you took on your employees for a reason, they have skills, experience and viewpoints that are useful to you so it's important to make sure you have mechanisms within your business to ensure you're able to capture the opinions of your staff and that they feel able to speak up.

What can I do to help improve employee voice and employee engagement in my business?

In terms of employee engagement you can do things like;

  • Make sure you have regular team meetings where people find out what's happening within the business and can contribute their views

  • Think about how you communicate information within your business and what mechanisms you use to do this, is it clear why you're making decisions? Do you have clear two-way communication within your business and do employees feel listened to?

  • Think about the objectives and goals your people have, are they linked to the bigger picture, what's your company strategy and how are you communicating this? Make sure people are clear on what's expected of them so that they have a sense of purpose

  • Use some sort of mechanism to take the temperature of your business so you can see how people are feeling but crucially when you do this it's important you also do something with that information!

  • Encourage employees to give their opinions and build a culture where it's ok to challenge and make suggestions on how you do things

  • Make sure you celebrate and reward success but that you're also brave enough to address business failures, without blaming people, and think about lessons learnt

  • You might want to consider incentivising ideas, you could give some sort of reward for ideas that foster change or improvement within your company

Make sure you proactively look out for signs that your employees may not be engaged;

  • Do you have high levels of sickness absence?

  • Are you experiencing large levels of turnover?

  • Do you get a lukewarm response when asking your staff for opinions if you even ask for their opinions at all?

Are there any free tools available that can help my business?

Thymometrics provide a free tool to measure employee engagement for businesses with up to 25 employees. You can find out more and sign up here;

The Good Work Index gives a snapshot of employee engagement across the UK, you can look at the report here;

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  • All information within the post is provided for guidance only, always seek your own legal advice

  • The information with this post was correct at the time of publishing, November 2022 but may be subject to change


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