Employees are the fuel that run your business. If you want your company to run well, you need to be able to recruit talented employees and keep them happy. And while this might seem like a significant investment of time and resources, it’s nothing compared to the cost of caustic employees and constant turnover. And if that’s not enough of a convincer, consider this: Companies with happy employees have happier customers.

Research by Aberdeen Group found that companies with a formal employee engagement program enjoyed 233% greater customer loyalty and earned 26% greater increases in year-over-year annual company revenue than companies who did not have such programs in place.

Two hundred and twenty-three percent greater customer loyalty!?!?! With those kind of results, you could seriously upgrade your business engine from Fiat to Ferrari. But you have to be committed.

Employee engagement programs are no small undertaking. Like anything else, you will need to put the work in if you want to reap the results. Experts agree that for employee engagement to have maximum impact, it shouldn’t just be a program run through your HR department. Instead, it needs to be an integral part of your core business strategy, with 100% buy-in from leadership. If you’re not interested in making any changes in your company, stop right here. If you want to start taking your company to the next level, read on.

Recognize that the well-being of your business rests on the well-being of your employees

Frustrated, overworked employees are not going to give you their best, and they certainly aren’t going to pass happy feelings on to clients. When your staff feels valued, cared for and supported, they will share those positive feelings with you, your customers, and anyone else who will listen.

If you want to build a better workplace culture, you’ll need to implement policies and programs designed to help your employees achieve higher levels of work/life balance, satisfaction and well-being. Yes, these programs can have a positive effect on a company's bottom line, as they often result in happier, refreshed employees who miss fewer days at work. But that shouldn’t be your only motivation. Your true goal should be to have employees who are sincerely excited to be part of your organization and what you stand for. This is where employee engagement can thrive.

Be careful not to confuse employee well-being with employee wellness. Wellness programs are great, but they often focus strictly on health-related issues like increasing physical activity and promoting a smoke-free lifestyle. Well-being is a much more holistic approach that can include things like flexible schedules, relaxed dress codes, work-at-home options, personal career development and professional mentoring. In some cases, increasing well-being can be as simple as providing tasty coffee onsite, better lighting, a fresh coat of paint, or a pet-friendly atmosphere.

Find out what employees think and what changes they want to see

How can you find out what your employees need? Ask them! There are many ways to do this: in one-on-one meetings, during annual reviews, or via tiny folded slips of paper in a super-secret suggestion box. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to gauge employee satisfaction and morale, try conducting a short survey.

Things to consider:

  • You may not get the best feedback during annual reviews, as many people aren’t comfortable being completely honest with company leaders and supervisors. But once you’ve created a culture of open communication, this information will flow more easily and naturally.
  • If you’re going with an email or old-school paper survey, design it to be anonymous so that the more timid among you feel free to speak up. That said, some employees will want to let you know who they are, provide ideas for internal change, and ask for further discussion. Make sure there’s a way for that to happen also.

The following questions are examples of things you might incorporate into an employee survey:

  • Are you excited to come to work each day?
  • Do you tell people where you work?
  • Do you have all the tools you need to perform your job optimally?
  • Do you feel valued?
  • Are you inspired by your management team?
  • If you could change one company policy, what would it be?

Share Survey Results

How many times have you taken a survey, never to hear anything about it again? Sharing the results with your team promotes open communication and transparency. It will also let people know where they fit into the company culture. If only 2 people out of 1,000 said they want more rigid schedules and longer staff meetings, they’ll clearly see they are in the minority. On the other hand, if 75% of staff wants a flexible PTO bank instead of separate vacation and sick days, that’s great information for everyone to know.

Make Some Changes

The only thing worse than sending your feedback into an empty void is providing thoughtful feedback only to see everything stay exactly the same as it was before. The whole point of conducting a survey is to let your employees to know you are listening to them and that you care what they think. If nothing happens afterward, you’re sending the exact opposite message.

Do you have to implement every suggestion you get? Of course not. But you should provide information on what policies you plan to change or implement based on employee feedback. It’s important to be honest and realistic about what will be changing and how fast it can happen. Not all ideas will be feasible, but choose the ones that make sense and communicate your plans as quickly and clearly as possible.

Your employees are an extremely critical part of your business. If you’ve been viewing them as individual units of production rather than sales and service dynamos, idea generators, and brand ambassadors, it’s time to shake things up.

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