Jellybean is a keen advocate of working hard to maintain a highly engaged workforce – so being offered the opportunity to attend an Employee Engagement Seminar last week was a great chance for us to check up on the methods we use and how we can further increase employee engagement going forward. What do we need to take back to our little foodservice marketing agency in order to maximise the motivation and engagement of our workforce?

Our speaker was Russell Beck, Head of Consulting at Impellum, and from beginning to end, Russell provided fantastic insight, statistics, examples and tips to improve engagement levels and better engage with the wider team.

A recent survey by Investors In People (Jan 2016) found that 49% of workers will look for a new job this year. Workers cited poor management and not feeling valued as the top reasons to move. ‘Better pay’ dropped to third place in ‘unhappiness factors’.

It’s clear that employee engagement is one of the most critical factors in business, but often the least understood. So what is ‘employee engagement’? A simple definition of the term was written by David Mcleod (part of the UK Government task force set up to look at employee engagement). He says:

“Engagement is the workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation’s goals, motivated to contribute to organisational success and are able at the same time, to enhance their own sense of wellbeing”

Our employees are fundamental to the business – they are our one true business differentiator. Our employer brand IS our people! They are the ones that talk about the business, with friends, family, colleagues, clients, strangers, hairdressers, etc. They also use various social media channels on a regular basis, and can spread the word farther and wider than ever before. With this in mind, it is essential to maximise employee engagement wherever possible.

So what is in it for the business? Engagement is the driver for:

• Productivity
• Customer satisfaction
• Innovation
• Reduced absence
• Retention
• Health and safety

All of these things combined, work together to increase profit – a clear business case!

Some of my key take outs from the seminar on how to go about improving employee engagement are here:

Company Alignment – Engagement is about emotion – about people caring and wanting to do well for the business. Be clear about what your company stands for, what your values are and what your story is.

Managers – It’s not enough for managers to fulfil basic admin duties, they need to be empathetic, genuinely interested in an employee’s long term career and personal life. This enables them to better understand, better connect, better motivate and therefore better engage with their team. It’s worth investing in your managers, to spread the engagement throughout the wider team.

Relationships – Work and life are blurring – it’s no wonder as we spend a third of our waking hours at work. As a result, employees crave a meaningful relationship at work. Have they got a best friend, a confidant, a social relationship? Positive relationships with colleagues helps productivity, motivation and employees feel connected to what they are doing.

Recognition – Receiving praise shows employees they are valued. This is free and easy to do – so praise regularly for work done well.

Feedback – Managers giving little or no feedback results in 4 out of 10 employees becoming actively disengaged. It is vital in showing team members that they are important in the wider scheme of things and you want them to do well.

Satisfaction – there are a number of contributing factors to job satisfaction:

• Salary will always matter. Pay people fairly – employees want to feel that they are paid what they deserve.
• Companies are offering a wider range of benefits now, increasing candidate’s expectations. Meaningful benefits such as flexible working hours or childcare incentives could make a difference to employee engagement.
• Workload – it’s all about balance. Challenged but not overworked, comfortable but not bored. If the balance is wrong they won’t be engaged.
• Clarity of expectations – employees need to be absolutely clear about what is expected from them, both on a daily basis and long term. Without a clear vision and regular feedback/recognition, employees can become frustrated, and therefore disengaged.
• Enablement – sufficient training and equipment is needed to prevent very quick disengagement. Have they got the right tools, have they been trained, does the equipment work?
• Environment – employees need to be comfortable in every sense – is the temperature right, is there enough space, is it too noisy, do they have a social area etc.? All of these things impact on how well employees perform and how they engage in the workplace.

Lots to think about! Engagement should be all year round – it’s a constant. Engagement levels change rapidly and any changes need to be picked up before there is an impact on the wider team, company vision and therefore profit.

Businesses can no longer afford to hire someone, pay them and leave them alone. No matter whether you work at a foodservice marketing agency or a hospital, everyone wants to be engaged on a deeper level – a point to get up and go to work. What makes us ‘Beans’ get up and go to work? A vast array of things…. challenging briefs, friends, variety of work, knowledge sharing, learning, personal development and growth, social activities, great clients, the list goes on. Enough from me now…back to work!

Jellybean Creative is a leading foodservice marketing agency. We help top brands with foodservice pr, foodservice marketing, digital and design. If you feel we could help you with your marcomms, strategy, public relations, creative or digital then drop us a line today.

Keep reading! Why not read our blog on Jellybean ranked in B2B Agency Benchmarking Report 2019