This is the second part of my MESH method series, designed to create Smart n' Safe businesses: we're up to the "E" in MESH which stands for "Engagement" because it's about keeping employees interested and committed to your business and goals.
The first question we need to answer, is, of course:
'Why do I need to maintain an engaged workforce?'
Well, there's two parts to the answer.
The first part is cultural. Engaged employees are happy employees. The ones that show up on time, work hard, they want to be here. And that goes two ways - the employees who want to be at work are usually the ones you want to have around! If someone is engaged in their role, they're likely to do a better job and stick around longer.
The second part has to do with your bottom line. The reality is that it's in your business's best interest to engage employees because engaged employees are likely to bring a better return on investment for your business. Engaged employees do a better job, getting you better bang for your buck. What's more, engaged employees stick around longer. According to a study done by Oxford economics, the average cost of hiring a new staff member is upwards of $30,000. What’s worse, 40% of staff who don’t receive adequate training leave their job within the first year. So really, it's in your best interests to keep staff engaged as much and for as long as possible.
Now, the next question we have to answer is:
"How do I engage my workforce?"
I mean, where to begin really?
There are so many integral parts to maintaining an engaged workforce, I won't pretend to be able to compile an exhaustive list. What I can do, is give you some of the key ways we do it at Yarno:
1. Giving a receiving feedback
We write about the importance of feedback a lot. For example:
- This one simple rule will reshape how you give feedback (hint: be specific)
- How to effectively onboard staff remotely (hint: involves asking for feedback on the onboarding process)
- How to foster a culture of customer obsession (hint: a lot of it has to do with collating and reviewing customer feedback)
- How role-playing can level up your customer interactions (yep, you got it - effective role-play also involves giving and receiving feedback...)
Honestly, sometimes I think we're a professional feedback company...
While, evidently, feedback is a large part of what we do, it's not our entire business. Though it is integral to it. Feedback permeates every single thing we do. We have three separate Slack channels dedicated to feedback:
- #content_feedback - for reviewing feedback we receive from learners on Yarno content;
- #customer_feedback - for reviewing feedback we receive from our customers on how we do things at Yarno; and
- #thanks - for shouting each other out when we do a good job (which is, like, all the time).
And I can tell you, as a Yarno employee, that it keeps me very engaged! For so many of us, so much of what we do goes unrewarded. You do your job day in day out, without ever hearing a word good or bad about it. It's demoralising. You lose interest pretty quick.
That's why we're obsessed with feedback at Yarno. We collate it, review it, and give it all the time. It makes us feel good and want to keep doing our jobs. What's more - feedback keeps people engaged because it tells them what to keep doing or what not to do. It's hard to stay engaged with a job when you don't know whether you're doing a good job or not. By giving and receiving feedback, we're not just giving each other the warm-fuzzies. We're telling each other what we're doing right, so we know to keep doing that!
2. 1:1s or the art of "checkin' in"
It's easy to get caught up in work. There's always so much to do, a million tasks on each of our minds. When we're all so busy, it's easy to forget to have a chat, and see how we're all going.
But that doesn't mean it's not important.
Especially after everything we've learnt throughout the horror show that was 2020. One of the best ways to maintain an engaged workplace is to set an agenda to have meetings with no agenda. Dedicate meeting times - whether it's once a week, or once a month - to have a meeting that's just about seeing where the other person is at. It shows you care, that you want the best for them, and in return, they'll go back to work more refreshed and engaged than ever.
3. Train, train, train
Stagnancy is the death of engagement. One of the biggest reasons people become bored at work, or feel as though it's time to move on, is because they feel like they've got no more to learn. They've done all they can do, it's time to find the next challenge.
The way to counteract this is to offer continuous learning opportunities. It's a win-win. You get a better, more qualified and engaged workforce, and they get to improve themselves. What's more, The American Society for Training Development conducted a study which showed that investing an extra $680 in training and development per employee generates an average of a six percent increase in the businesses total shareholder return, per year. So this means that investing in staff training increases the value of the entire business. So really, there's no downside.
Engaged employees are those that are interested and committed to your business goals. They're the star players, the leaders, the ones you want on your team. Well, the aim of this step of my MESH method is make engaged players your entire team. And you can do that by creating a top-down commitment to engaging your employees. I've gone over a few of the ways we do it at Yarno, but there are a million more. It's really about showing that you care, that you see your employees as people. And in return, your engaged employees will ensure your business is Smart, Safe, and thriving from every angle.