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Posted 29th March 2023

Why is Employee Engagement More Important for Small Businesses?

Employees are the lifeblood of a successful small business. You rely on them to deliver for your customers and work together for the benefit of your company. Then why is it that only 21% of employees feel engaged at work?

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Why is Employee Engagement More Important for Small Businesses?

Employees are the lifeblood of a successful small business. You rely on them to deliver for your customers and work together for the benefit of your company. Then why is it that only 21% of employees feel engaged at work?

It’s up to you, as an employer, to find ways to engage your employees. Sometimes external factors negatively influence engagement levels. Yet, you have the power to make improvements. If you do, you’ll see higher productivity, better morale, and increased profitability.

What is employee engagement?

An engaged employee is one who feels driven to achieve. They see themselves as part of a greater whole. They try hard, not because they fear reprisals but because they want to contribute. 

An engaged employee is not someone who delivers the bare minimum. They’re in it for more than the paycheck. They believe in the mission and want to play a part in delivering it.

Why is employee engagement important for small businesses?

Let’s begin with the most obvious point. Small businesses have fewer employees than larger businesses, by definition. Thus, disengaged employees represent a larger risk. There’s less opportunity for others to pick up the slack. And if employees leave, this can have huge effects on your business short term.

There are many benefits available to companies that are proactive in their approach:

  • Improved customer engagement
  • Increased employee retention
  • 21% higher profitability
  • Higher productivity
  • Improved employee wellbeing
  • Decreased absenteeism
  • A safer workplace

6 ways to engage employees as a small business

Understanding what employee engagement is and why it’s important is only the beginning. Use the following tips to boost engagement and reap the rewards.

1. Share your mission

Properly engaged employees have something to believe in. You need to share your mission with your talent. Make it central to everything you do every day. From the moment you recruit a new employee, share with them your values, your raison d’etre, and your mission.

Your mission should align with your employees’ personal priorities. Try to frame it in a way that reflects your company’s benefit to the wider world. That’s a strong engagement tool.

When you share your mission, you provide employees with a reason, other than pay, to work with you. You’ll create an incentive for your team to work hard. If they feel the work is meaningful, naturally, they’ll want to deliver.

2. Invite suggestions

Employees are a great source of new ideas. They may be able to suggest better ways of doing things that you hadn’t considered. This is because their experience of your business will differ from your own. They have different points of view. Tap into that, and your company could benefit. It also has the added bonus of making employees feel more involved in the business.

Set up a process for your employees to share ideas. This could be a physical suggestion box in an office. Alternatively, set up an email address where employees can send their suggestions. 

You could incentivize suggestions by offering rewards for ideas that you adopt. For example, perhaps an employee drew your attention to an easy online Word to PDF converter that saves your company money. They should be rewarded. This could be a cash bonus, extra leave, or a gift card.

3. Foster an environment of collaboration 

Engaged employees will want to work with equally engaged colleagues. Create a collaborative working environment to reinforce your mission. This will boost engagement.

Encourage various teams to work together on projects. Sometimes teams complete their work in total isolation. This makes it harder for them to see their place in the greater whole. They then risk becoming disengaged from the company’s mission.

This was once only possible for people working in person. This is no longer the case. There are lots of collaborative tools you can use. Technology allows collaboration between employees, even when working remotely. Applications such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom are a great help.

4. Reward good work

Some employees respond to incentives for delivering exceptional work. This should be different from a traditional bonus structure. Employees often consider bonuses as part of their salary and so they don’t impact engagement. 

Celebrate success in different ways. Show that you’re genuinely grateful for the employee’s work. You could give them a gift card for their favorite coffee shop. Explain why the work they’ve done is so valuable. When they see the impact they’re having, they’ll be motivated to deliver similarly in the future. 

5. Trust your team

If you’ve ever had a job where you’ve been micromanaged, then you know how demoralizing it can be. Morale plays a large part in employee engagement. If you question every decision your people make, they will disengage. 

Imagine an office where they provide software for working on documents. An employee likes to go to https://www.pdfplatform.com/merge to merge PDFs. The manager has a different way they want it done. They insist upon it. The work that the employee delivers would be the same either way. That’s micromanaging. 

What’s worse is leadership will spend too much time micromanaging. They should be working on the bigger picture.

In the event of an emergency, be as flexible as possible. Allow employees to take time off if they need to care for a loved one. Approach difficult situations with empathy and consider what you would need from an employer if you were in their shoes. Go beyond the minimum to support employees when they need it. They’ll be grateful and more engaged once the crisis has passed.

6. Offer a helping hand

There are often external pressures that cause an employee to become disengaged. Family emergencies, illness, and stress can affect anyone. There may not be much you can do to solve these issues. You can, however, offer support in other ways.

In the event of an emergency, be as flexible as possible. Allow employees to take time off if they need to care for a loved one. Approach difficult situations with empathy. Think what you would need from an employer if you were in their shoes. Go beyond the minimum to support employees when they need it. They’ll be grateful and more engaged once the crisis has passed.

Engage!

That was the catchphrase of everyone’s favorite starship captain, Jean-Luc Picard. Granted, it was meant as an order to fire up the engines. However, the crew of the Enterprise certainly was a group of engaged employees. They weren’t even paid! Everything they did was because they believed in the mission. 

Be like Jean-Luc. Engage your employees, and together you’ll succeed.

Categories: Business Advice, News


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