Bryan Shirley: Communication as an integral part of employee engagement

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Instantprint are a SME with around 260 staff. Here company director Bryan Shirley discusses the engagement measures taken within the company as a case study.

Employee engagement kicks off from day one when all new starters are given an induction by a director introducing them to the business and the company’s history. Understanding the brand’s stories is a major part of helping employees believe in the business, so we use inductions as an opportunity to outline our culture, values and where the business is heading.

This induction includes a “Treasure Hunt”, where employees are given a list of facts that they have to learn about different parts of the business. This encourages them to walk around each department and start interacting with various teams, finding out about how their roles impact the day to day running of the business. It’s a relaxed and fun way to kick off inter-departmental communication and sheds light on how the business operates on a wider scale. We’ve found that transparency across departments really helps our staff see the wider picture and increases engagement throughout the business.

Our company handbook is also given out on every employees first day, which outlines our business values in a bit more detail and how each department adheres to them. Everything from general policies to how the business manages its environmental impact is covered to get everyone up to speed on common activity.

Once employees get started, everyone at all levels has regular 1-1’s with their managers to discuss their performance and how their work is affecting the overall mission of the company. This helps each employee see how their individual efforts fit into the business which is vital when keeping the workforce engaged and motivated.

Bulletins are emailed out twice a week to everyone in the company. Our director asks every team to submit at least one news story, however small, so employees are kept up to date with new developments outside of their department. It’s great that everyone is aware of all the little achievements that are accomplished each day that might have go unnoticed by other departments otherwise!

We are also increasingly using direct mail sent to employee’s houses with important information such as improvements to healthcare or the introduction of new benefits. This helps keep our employees engaged outside of the workplace and provides another opportunity to communicate.

One of our most important ways to keep everyone engaged is our bi-annual questionnaire which is completed anonymously by everyone in the company. It’s a chance for people to voice any concerns or recommend any changes that will improve their work lives. The answers are taken very seriously as it’s a rare chance to hear the collective voice of the business. As a direct result of this survey we have introduced a BUPA healthcare scheme which is available to all employees, installed picnic benches outside and are currently employing Interior Designers to completely redesign our canteen. These have all been recommendations that employees have suggested in this survey. It’s essential to actually implement these suggestions so our staff know their voices are heard and always seriously taken into account.

Recently, we’ve been hosting more and more themed events during work hours. These are usually based around a charity event, such as Christmas Jumper Day for Save the Children or a pyjama day for Children in Need. The whole company comes together to help raise money for a common cause which is a great way to boost engagement. Holidays such as Halloween, Easter and Christmas usually call for a business-wide fancy dress event with raffles, competitions and prizes handed out which everyone really looks forward to. We also make sure everyone sings Happy Birthday to you on your big day, (which unfortunately some people get embarrassed about)!

Senior managers often give presentations to employees to further encourage communication at all levels of seniority. Employees have regular access to senior managers to voice any concerns or talk through problems which are also very important for transparency. Weekly team meetings are another essential way we run to keep everyone in the loop about plans, developments that directly affect them.

One of our core values of a business which directly affects employee engagement is the investment in training. We place more emphasis when recruiting on attitude and whether a candidates’ values align with our own, than experience. We firmly believe on investing in development, whether that’s training on machinery, management courses and general career advancement. When employees are personally growing we find they are much more motivated and engaged with the business mission.

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