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Lay the Foundation

“A short-term investment pays long-term dividends.” Most of us have heard that advice once too often.  When it comes to employee engagement, though, these words can prove their worth. Consider a start-up or small employer that might want to assess employee engagement. This is usually done by conducting an employee survey – but in a small business it may be impractical or cost prohibitive to conduct a survey, and the small headcount may not warrant it.  What is the employer to do? How do they measure and reinforce engagement?  How do they assess their employee’s level of effort and their intent to stay in their employment?

A small business that projects growth and profitability can’t afford to be without an effective foundation that instills strong levels of employee engagement.  It is those levels of employee engagement that will turbo-charge innovation, growth and profitability. It is those levels of effort and commitment that will shape business results.  It is those results that will attract and retain both investors and talented employees. Building a business requires more than an investment in a newly developed product or service – it requires an investment in the behaviour of the leader/owner.  An absence of basic, positive behaviours will lead to turnover of key employees – and such employees are critical to the company’s future success.

The business case is clear
“Employee engagement is a leading indicator of company growth”. (AON Hewitt, 2013 Trends in Global Employee Engagement).

Employee engagement is measured by an employee’s commitment to something (i.e. team) or someone (i.e. a leader) and by how long they stay with that employer.  Investing in that engagement does not require a large outlay of expense – it requires an investment in the behaviour of the leader/owner in their interactions with their employees.  This is really quite practical. By demonstrating and demanding some basic leadership behaviours, the employer lays the foundation for strong employee engagement.  If the owner or leader wants to measure the success of those efforts down the road, that’s an entirely separate matter.

The investment is in leader/owner behaviour and interactions with their employees.. The investment is really quite practical. By demonstrating and demanding some basic leadership behaviours, the employer will be laying the foundation for strong employee engagement. Whether the owner or leader wants to measure the success of those efforts down the road is an entirely different matter.

As an employer, you can invest in employee engagement by practicing and  supporting positive behaviours.  Your investment can start by asking the following questions:

•    LEADERSHIP...Are you setting the example of how to work as a team?
•    DAY-TO-DAY WORK...Does an employee’s job makes good use of his skills and abilities?
•    OPPORTUNITIES … Do you encourage employees to feel they can grow and develop at the company?
•    RECOGNITION….Does management appropriately recognize team contributions?
•    COMMUNICATION…Does management communicate important information in a timely manner?
•    BOSS CREDIBILITY...Do bosses give their team sufficient coaching and feedback?
•    TEAM COHESIVENESS….Does the team inspire everyone to do their best work?
•    TEAM FEELING OF LOYALTY…Are employees proud to work for this company?
•    DISCRETIONARY EFFORT….Do employees often challenge themselves to find better ways to do their work?
•    INTENT TO STAY…Do employees plan to be with this company in the foreseeable future?

The “Payoff”
The “payoff” of this investment is retaining employees that are key to the success of the business, and laying the foundation of growth and profitability.  The employer might at some point still want a “scientific” measure of employee engagement, and he or she will know when the time is right to undertake a survey. In the interim, stay close to your employees, interact with them, listen to them and demonstrate and reinforce active leadership behaviours. Do that on a consistent basis and engagement will follow.

Note: In terms of employee headcount, you typically will need approximately 75-100 employees to run an engagement survey.

Souce: Gord McDonald Solutions







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