Overcoming the hurdles of employee engagement

Companies aren’t the rider, but they do provide their employees with the road.
A career is like riding a bike. Sometimes it’s long flat straight where good momentum at the start will help you move quickly to the next section and sometimes it’s a long sweep of a downhill on a sunny day, tucked-in, smiles and daring yourself to go a little faster. Sometimes though it’s an uphill slog into the wind, beaten by horizontal rain, dreaming about a hot, distant cup of coffee. How can companies engage their staff and give them chance to do their best on all roads and in all conditions?

To extend the cycling analogy (perhaps beyond breaking point) companies can’t do very much about the gradient of a road: the uphill struggles are an unavoidable reality of geography, but hard work on the uphill makes the downhill more satisfying and reward more likely. What companies can do however, is make sure that the roads that people’s careers are on don’t have too many potholes, that routes are well signposted and low branches are cut back.

Maintain the road

Whether it’s a road, a divisional structure or an IT system, everything needs to be examined regularly to ensure that it’s still fit for purpose. Even the best system is likely to need some investment over five years to make sure that it’s giving staff the chance to operate to their best potential, even if it’s just an investment in time.

If you want to attract and retain the very best talent, you need to be engaging employees and provide a working environment that rewards their commitment and loyalty. This means making sure that your structures are responsive to a fast-moving environment, your managers have the freedom and the support to manage, and the infrastructure you provide helps your teams concentrate on their tasks.

Let employees choose their own racing lines

One of the keys to a contented workforce is making sure that they have the freedom to innovate, or at least discuss innovation. In an ideal world, employees should be empowered to come up with ideas that help them complete their tasks more quickly so that they can get on with other aspects of their roles.

With technology and the regulatory environment evolving so quickly, there is always an opportunity to engage your staff to look at something and suggest ways that corners can be cut without breaking the rules, and fresh eyes can often spot opportunities that may have been missed by others.

Make sure there’s plenty of support and encouragement

How hard you push yourself at specific points in your career is very much an individual choice driven by personal factors, but there’s little doubt that having employees cheering you on can encourage you to push a little harder.

Firms need to make sure that there’s a structure in place that helps encourage employee engagement, offering support when they might be flagging and be quick to respond by celebrating success when it’s appropriate.

The importance of the yellow jersey

We recently discussed whether an annual appraisal process was an appropriate time to reward a project that might have been successfully completed months previously (Click Here to view). To come back to cycling (or any sport), a podium position is celebrated within minutes of the race being completed and the next day is all about getting on with preparing for the next ride. It’s logical that rewarding your employees should follow a similar philosophy, increasing employee engagement to the max!

Technology and systems are now readily available to help firms quickly and easily assess and celebrate exceptional performance. These tools have come a long way from simple ‘Employee of the Month’ awards picked arbitrarily by a manager, and now deliver a simple way for managers from across teams to praise individuals and single out exemplary performance.

Career paths are specific to the individual, and the efforts that they put in at any given time are influenced by a variety of professional and personal factors. If they are going to attract and retain the best talent, companies need to focus on employee engagement, creating a positive environment that encourages and rewards hard work and innovation.

If you would like to learn more about Engage, Love2shop’s web-based reward, incentive and benefits platform, please contact us on 0843 686 0427.