I am quite a systems geek. I love finding efficiencies and more productive ways of working. It was one of the favourite parts of my work over the 12 years I worked with teams in International Development. But there is only so much efficiency you can develop without looking after the key element in any organisation – the team of people that work for you.
Your biggest business cost
I’ll take a guess that for most of us, salaries are the biggest cost to our business. So motivating, inspiring, training and engaging our team is fundamental to business success, as well as making our workplaces more positive places to spend our time.
But employee engagement is very low. Gallup’s 2016 Global Survey points to only 13% of employees being fully engaged in their jobs. The numbers are better in the UK and the US, but even so, more than two thirds of employees are disengaged.
More than two-thirds of employees are disengaged at work
Disengaged employees cost you more
As well as the effect on morale and the knock on to customer service and the rest of the team, they are less productive. Microsoft’s 2017 research estimates that engaged employees are 147% MORE PRODUCTIVE than non-engaged ones. How does that feel for your salary bill?
The good news is that there are things you can do to improve engagement. And you may not be surprised (and relieved) that money is not the answer (although an investment in engagement is part of it).
As well as transparency – sharing goals and impact with employees, and collaboration – the opportunity to choose and work together on projects, Maureen Kline points to purpose as being key in her inc.com article:
‘In order to drive sustainability throughout an organization, it really helps to involve and inspire employees. Ideally, they should feel that the company they work for has a greater societal purpose than just squeezing out higher and higher margins to pass along to shareholders.’
The importance of good Management
Management is also important. Gallup points out that in 70% of cases, an employee’s manager is the deciding factor in their level of engagement. This Forbes article supports this assertion. So as my friend CB would say – if you have a problem in your team then the problem is you. At least it’s yours to sort out.
Echoing the need for a sense of purpose to exist for team members to be engaged, CSR (how seriously a business takes their social and environmental responsibility) plays a key role. And the statistics back it up. Employees in socially responsible businesses are 65% MORE ENGAGED than their counterparts in similar businesses that pay no little or no attention to social responsibility. That adds up to a big uptick in your productivity. But why? In my experiences there are 4 reasons.
- Owners and managers show they care about more than simply making a profit
No-one wants to work for someone for whom profit at all costs is the priority. As well as being risky ethically because of the temptation to cut corners, it erodes trust at a human level. People want to feel like their employers care.
- Working together on projects, events and programmes which have a greater good for the environment or good causes at their core fosters collaboration. I’ve seen countless times how team relationships are strengthened by volunteering and fundraising challenges. It connects people and changes them for the good.
- Connection to a higher purpose – knowing that your business does more than just deliver its core product, that it makes a positive impact on society, that it ‘gives back’ is becoming increasingly important, particularly for younger generations.
- The evidence suggests that socially responsible businesses tend to be better led and managed. A more holistic view of business as a corporate citizen is a hallmark of successful companies. The trend suggests this will only become more so in the coming years.
If you would like help with ways to engage your team, my CSR Club may well be able to help you. It’s just one of the things that I work with my CSR Club Members on. If you would like to know more, click here.