engagementhrA lot of business leaders tell me that they don’t really need an employee engagement plan. Is this you? You might be thinking that your organisation isn’t a large corporate and so doesn’t need another complicated plan to monitor. Or maybe you are in a corporate company and have hundreds of staff members, but not a lot of budget; perhaps you’re just not sure that employee engagement is something you need to invest in.

Everyone should have an employee engagement plan. Even if you only have five members of staff, you could still benefit from communicating with them about your company’s goals and ambitions, and how they fit into that picture.

Disregard employee engagement, and the real problem you may soon face is how to cope with an actively disengaged and disgruntled team, which could lead to them creating havoc both in and outside of your organisation. So, without further ado, here are five signs that your staff aren’t receiving enough information from you – and some tips on how to right the wrongs.

5 signs something is wrong with employee engagement:

1. You have a high staff turnover.

2. You have high levels of absenteeism.

3. Your people seem to have no ambition and you struggle to motivate them.

4. If you asked all of your people to write down what your organisation’s culture and values are, no two answers would match up.

5. If your employees’ friends and family asked them if they would recommend your product or service, you have a horrible suspicion they’d probably say no.

If two or more of these is true for you, I can guarantee that you need an employee engagement and internal communications plan – immediately if not sooner. I’d normally tackle a list like this one by one, but really this is just the same problem stated in five different ways.

They are all signs that your employees have not had their expectations about your company culture, values and their own career progression and development properly managed by you. They probably also feel their opinions and contributions to your company are not valued, or even taken into account.

Here are some quick tips that you could implement to get you back on track:

Tip 1

Make sure you write proper job specs and articulate exactly what behaviours and achievements you want to see in each role. Communicate these to each employee along with some measurable goals that you can revisit each year to track their progress. Explain how each of these goals supports the overall goals of your company and how they will be directly involved in helping to shape the company’s future. This will help you reward the right behaviours and provide coaching or training to correct the wrong ones. Believe me, it’s hugely motivating to feel that you are both progressing your skills and that you are directly involved in your company’s future success – your employees will be happy that you took the time to include them.

Tip 2

Communicate to each employee what you think their career path with you should be. If you want them to stay in their role for two years and then move on to a role with more responsibility after that, explain that to them. Explain what they will need to learn and master in each role and how long you would like to see them spend mastering those skills. If you don’t explain this, they will make up what they think their career path should be, and will either be cross that it’s moving too slowly or upset that they’ve moved too fast. Either way, any misunderstandings can be pre-empted with a bit of internal communication. This information can also be really useful when you are designing your recruitment strategy and can help manage the expectations of new recruits from their very first day with you.

Tip 3

Keep your staff updated about your company’s progress in achieving its goals both big and small – but make sure that internal communication is a two-way street and that you allow them to give you feedback. This is really important.

There is nothing more demotivating than to be treated like the baby in the family, whose opinion is irrelevant and not worth listening to. Really, think back to that experience: annoying, wasn’t it? Send out regular bulletins where you report back on your business development and marketing strategy initiatives; let people know about any new hires you plan to make; and explain why and how the operational changes you’ve made have saved the business time and money.

But it’s not enough to tell your people about all these things. Make sure you schedule regular surveys and face-to-face team meetings where management sits down with everyone at once, or in their own teams, and explains all these things in person. Then, invite your people to tell you what they think. Thank them for the part they played in each initiative. Invite their feedback on what they thought worked and what didn’t. And listen to that feedback – you never know what you can learn and improve on when implementing your next initiative.

Tip 4

Articulate your company’s values. I realise some of you are groaning as you read this, but values don’t have to be grandiose or pretentious. They don’t have to be long-winded either. Values are really just behaviours that you value in your company. You need to decide on three or four values that you want everyone in your company to have or aspire to, tell everyone what they are and what they mean. How do they translate into behaviours? What does it mean to be one of your people? How do the people at your company treat each other, suppliers and customers?

Maybe you are energetic go-getters, a bit ruthless (but in a good way), all pulling together to be high achievers; or possibly you’re more the caring and understanding, slow-and-careful-wins-the-race sort; or perhaps you are creative, fast-paced and dynamic as well as a teensy bit chaotic and whacky. Even as you read the descriptions of these three tribes, you’ve probably gravitated towards a favourite and had a near-allergic reaction to one of the others. You know instantly which of those sets of values you can get on board with and which you can’t. Articulating your company’s values and ethos will help you inspire loyalty from staff who feel that they are in the ‘right’ place because your values resonate with them. It may mean you lose a few people who don’t agree, but this is probably for the best, both for you and for them.

Perhaps most importantly of all, the values can really help you recruit the right new people in to your company. If you bring them up in your interview process, it’s a quick way of seeing who fits. Whenever we interview new staff at Southerly, they always go through their team leads and our HR manager before meeting me in a second interview. And it always makes me smile when my team tells me that they can’t WAIT for me to meet so-and-so because they are just such a Southerly person…

Wouldn’t it be great if you could recognise your next new recruit so easily?

Of course, I’ve rattled through these tips very breezily. I know getting all of these things in place is no mean feat and will take a fair amount of work. Still, I hope I have convinced you that an employee engagement and internal communication strategy is worth your time and effort. Not only will it make your life easier, but also your people deserve it.