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Employee engagement key to higher productivity

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Employee engagement should be given a higher priority in order to increase productivity.

This is according to The Work Foundation, which has published its latest study. It found that managers who invested ten per cent in these strategies could raise the profits of their company by £2,700, per staff member, per year.

HR professionals are often seen as the point of origin for such initiatives, therefore it is increasingly important for businesses to make sure they have the highest level of talent in their organisation. This is to enable them to develop the most efficient way of working, which can yield the best results.

Although once seen as a cliche, the concept of employee engagement has become more mainstream over the last ten years. It is designed to make sure that workers show commitment to the goals of the business and are motivated to play their part in achieving success.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the benefits of employing such strategies include an increased level of customer satisfaction, productivity and staff retention. Conversely, if the workforce is not actively engaged, employers may find it difficult to implement organisational change and workers will be less likely to constructively use all their talent and skills. 

The need to involve employees more within the business is key in all organisations, especially larger ones. People do not want to feel like they are an insignificant cog in a large, rumbling machine, but that they are actively involved within the business and their opinions matter. Focus groups and surveys have been identified as good ways to gauge the feeling of the workforce, while holding events such as summer barbeques and team nights out further instils a sense of belonging.

Employee engagement is particularly important in traditionally low-paid professions, such as call centres. Businesses of this nature typically experience a high level of staff turnover and sick leave in the sector is reported to cost the UK around £626 million each year. However analysts claim that by altering how these jobs are designed and executed, the overall productivity of the country could increase.

According to research, almost 80 per cent of new positions created are in industries with a relatively low wage, yet The Work Foundation's study found that small investments in employee engagement strategies could contribute an additional £49 billion to the economy, equating to three per cent of GDP.

The total level of absenteeism in the UK costs £13.4 billion per year, with a disengaged workforce nearly three times more likely to call in sick, compared to 2.96 for their more-satisfied colleagues. Additionally, the likelihood of less-motivated employees leaving a company is four times greater than their counterparts. This problem is more acute in cases where a worker has moved down the labour market into positions that do not allow them to make the best use of their skills.

Recent studies show that show that only 39 per cent of employees feel engaged in their current positions and The Work Foundation claimed that taking notice of its report's findings could significantly increase productivity and staff retention.

Professor Stephen Bevan, director for the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness, said: "Underemployment has increased by one million since the start of the downturn, and the labour market for low wage, low skilled work is more likely to continue growing. These roles often have standardised work methods and lack of development opportunities. Many workers who have moved into this sector do not view their employment as a career option."

He advised employers should introduce new initiatives such as performance rewards and recognition; an increased emphasis on training, development and progression; a greater level of teamwork and flexible working opportunities.

CIPD agreed that delivering an effective employee engagement strategy is imperative for the ongoing success of a business. It calls for leaders and managers at all levels to concentrate on building these initiatives and pay close attention to the feedback given by workers. This should be carried out by having respectful conversations and focus groups.

Employers should also act as role models to their workforce, to demonstrate how they are committed to the organisation and introduce fair management processes, in order to support employee well-being.

Posted by Jon Aspinell on 26th February 2014



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