March 31, 2021
Lucy Robertson

OpenBlend answer: what is employee engagement?

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development’s (CIPD) Good Work Index survey, carried out in 2018, approximately two-thirds of UK employees are satisfied with their jobs overall – but only one in three feels energised on a daily basis, enthusiastic about the work they are doing, and a fifth of respondents said they were likely to quit their jobs in the next twelve months …

In order to prevent unsustainable levels of staff turnover, it’s important that employers pay close attention to employee engagement within their organisations, so we’ve put together this quick Q&A to help you understand what exactly this means, and how you can maximise it for the benefit of your business.  

The definition of ‘employee engagement’ has changed a lot over the last 30+ years. Employers started looking into ways of bonding employees to their companies at the start of the 1990s. Back then, the emphasis was placed wholly on the employees, and those who were involved, enthusiastic, and committed were classed as “engaged”.

The modern notion of employee engagement turns this on its head. Instead, it’s now about the emotional investment an employee makes into their work and “how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential.” This definition from David MacLeod makes it more the employer’s responsibility to foster an environment in which employees can flourish, thereby contributing to better levels of engagement. 

If we look at employee engagement from a business perspective, you can define it as the attitudes and approach of an organisation to make their employees feel more committed both to their work, their purpose at work, and to the organisation itself. 

Put simply, employee engagement is quite often considered to be the most basic concept used to recognise the nature of the relationship between employees and the employer.

Why is employee engagement important?

Employee engagement is important because staff who are more motivated perform better at work; they are proven to devise more creative solutions to problems, to be more customer orientated, and to take less time off sick. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 141.4m working days were lost to sickness or injury in the UK in 2018, which is equivalent to 4.4 days per worker, and set the UK economy back by billions of pounds. Employers were also left out of pocket. Employee engagement is therefore crucial to maintaining your bottom line, driving business performance and providing a better service to your customers.

What impacts employee engagement?

Your approach to employee engagement is going to have the biggest impact on how it works out. For example, it is important to understand that a business-wide culture does not start at an organisational level. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to employee engagement, simply because everyone is motivated and driven by different things.

This is where OpenBlend comes in; our people-centric employee performance management software has been curated specifically to facilitate a people-first approach to driving performance and engagement amongst your workforce. OpenBlend delivers insight into what really drives productivity, engagement and performance and what Blend elements make a difference to employee’s ability to perform at the top of their game. With a world class analytics tool that identifies themes and patterns, it enables businesses to find out what’s really going on across their organisation and develop effective people strategies to help minimise the impact of both internal and external change on business outcomes, employee engagement and performance.

 Using OpenBlend, employees pick their driving forces from a list that incorporates a blend of personal and professional elements. You can maximise employee engagement - which has the added benefit of increasing employee productivity - by paying close attention to what drives your employees and making sure your approach to employee engagement is tailored to the individual. If you sit down with them regularly to discuss their work/life Blend and what your employees need to feel happy, engaged and fulfilled – both in and out of work - and how you can help to boost their scores, engagement levels skyrocket.

What are the benefits of employee engagement?

Employees who are engaged at work are healthier, happier, and more motivated, which means high levels of employee engagement are great for employee wellbeing, too. They are also a key contributor to overall business performance.

A study conducted by Engage for Success, a voluntary movement sponsored by the CIPD to promote better employee engagement in the UK, shows a positive correlation between employee engagement and a number of other business metrics, including customer satisfaction, employee productivity, innovation, and employee retention and attrition.

Losing staff is costly to businesses in terms of talent, time, and money, so if you can lower your rates of employee turnover, your bottom line is going to get bigger. Increased work productivity thanks to greater employee engagement will work for you, your employees and your organisation.

Employee engagement strategies to focus on in 2021

Although lockdown restrictions are beginning to be eased in the UK, we are unlikely to see any major changes to how we’re working until the summer. And even beyond that, businesses here are responding to calls to offer remote/hybrid working solutions, following the adoption of remote priority working policies by major global brands including Twitter, Slack, and Spotify.

So, it looks like hybrid working is here to stay.

But if you are concerned about how the lack of in-person communication might impact employee engagement within your company, here are three strategies for boosting engagement in 2021:

Start at the top

Optimum employee engagement relies upon effective leadership. To boost current levels of engagement, you should make sure your managers are properly equipped to lead from home. The most important thing is that they understand how to communicate effectively remotely to make sure virtual conversations make the same impact as in-person meetings. 

Diversify your engagement initiatives

As the words themselves might suggest, “Working from Home” has thrown the old concept of the work-life balance into complete disarray, because the two states are no longer separate. Luckily, at OpenBlend, we believe in something called the work-life Blend, which recognises that the key to job satisfaction is finding fulfilment in all areas of life, of which work is obviously one.

So, if you’re looking for ways to increase employee engagement this year, even with staff working remotely, don’t just focus on the “work” half of the Blend; employers that acknowledge the challenges presented by the current world climate and put contingencies in place to help, will be rewarded by an increase engagement.

It could be as simple as introducing flexible working hours, or just making it clear that every day, at-home interruptions are nothing to be sorry for. And to foster greater relationships between teams, you could also organise virtual coffee breaks via Zoom – regular breaks are integral to employee wellbeing, and communication is key to getting things done remotely. 

Set goals and targets. Stick to deadlines.

Remote working presents employees with many problems – there’s pressure to work longer hours, an added strain on personal lives, a lack of interaction leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation, plus, you might have seen a breakdown of communication between teams. There is also a greater possibility of distraction, as their work and home lives overlap.

Any of these factors could cause a dip in . Spotting those who are disengaged is the starting point for turning things around.

Goals and targets don’t have to be big, but deadlines will help keep employees accountable and projects on track. Encourage regular check ins to monitor progress. But if you know someone is struggling, the best thing you can do as a leader is to schedule a one-to-one; identify any obstacles, and options and consider the way forward. 

Become people-centric.

By implementing a performance structure that places the individual at the heart of everything. People are the most valuable asset a business can have – and this needs to be reflected across any and all strategies to improve employee engagement.

And for more advice on how you can build the employee engagement remotely, check out our reflections from Lockdown 1 here.

How to build a fulfilled and motivated workforce with OpenBlend

OpenBlend’s unique approach to performance management improves work productivity by promoting better levels of engagement between your managers and employees. Our performance management software uses a combination of Blend Elements selected by your staff to reveal what motivates them, both in their personal and their professional lives. It also provides a template for performance review meetings, in which you can assess progress and come up with solutions to work towards future targets.

If you want to see how OpenBlend can help increase employee engagement within your organisation, book a demo with us today. Or, for more information, contact us on 01628 613040 or email hello@openblend.com.

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