Modern Age Employee Engagement
04 September 2017

The Facts 

Statistically, despite a concerted effort and investment, employee engagement levels have not increased over the past thirty years. Studies and reports show, engagement levels have remained static for the past three decades. 

Statistically, only 33% of your workforce is engaged. According to Gallup, disengaged staff cost the UK economy approximately £52 to £70 billion every year. ONS estimate that stress cost the UK £57 billion per year.  

If these stats are to be believed and engagement initiatives are ineffective, is engagement really something that we can fix? Or indeed something we should fix?  

The Shift of Power  

Today’s globalisation has changed everything. The world of work and the workplace is evolving at a rapid pace. Historically, organisations had a hierarchical approach whereby employees, would be expected to be motivated by the pursuit of job security, salary increases and status. And this brought with it, boundaries to the questions we would ask our employers and the level to which we would challenge their authority. 

Now we live in a world of insecurity, brought on by a cycle of recessions and global unrest. Where connectivity provides us with access to real-time information that allows us to make informed decision on our well being. The rise of the gig economy and a changing attitude to work means that we no longer feel a sense of duty to an employer, and insecurity has become accepted. Couple this with a business world that is increasingly struggling to compete with its competitors to acquire the very best talent and a shortage of skills.  

Employee Engagement of the Future  

An engaged employee is good for business. Research shows that higher engagement levels results in higher productivity, less sickness and lower employee turnover. The question is; ‘How do we ensure we are engaging our employees?  

It’s all about the experience……… the employee experience.  

I liken it to our personal lives and what makes us happy. If you buy a new car, a new watch or go on a shopping spree – does it make you happy? For a few moments or a few weeks, perhaps. However, for long term happiness, it’s experiences that gives us fulfilment and satisfaction. Humans seek to create experiences instead of simply owning material things. We save to go on adventure or eat out at a nice restaurant. We spend time with our friends and family to create memories and we try new activities and hobbies to challenge ourselves.  

A study by the University of California, that researched human happiness, concluded that when we spent money on experiences, over time our satisfaction levels increase. People who spend money on physical things, over time their satisfaction decreased. The study also found that waiting for an experience provoked more happiness than waiting for a material good.  

Upon translating this to a work environment, it appears that the likely outcome is increased engagement, attraction and retention levels.

Employee experience is the reality of what it’s like to work at your organisation. From the perspective of your organization, employee experience is what is designed and created for employees, or what your organization believes the employee reality should be like. 

The Three Key Employee Experience Elements  

There are three key, and equally important elements to this practice.  

  1. Provide a physical working environment that your employees want to work in 

Create an environment that you are proud of, that your employees are proud of, and that you genuinely want to bring your friends and family to visit. Your workspace should be inspiring and energising. It should encourage creativity, innovation and collaboration, a place where your employees feel a connection to your organisation.   

  1. Give them the tools they need to do their job  

Its critical to Invest in consumer grade technology that is available to everyone in your organisation. This shouldn’t be exclusive to a particular department and should be focused on the employee needs as well as business requirements. By ensuring that you’re providing your employees with the tools that they need to perform at their best, you will increase productivity and provide a better employee experience. 

  1. Create a culture they can celebrate  

Your culture exists whether you consciously try to create one or not. Unlike your physical environment or your tools and technology, you can’t see or touch your culture. You just feel it. Your culture is your vibe, it’s the feeling your employees have about showing up for work and how valued they feel within their role. Therefore, it is important to create and design a culture where your employees feel valued and have a legitimate sense of purpose. With your employees, you need to create a people and passion focused environment where your employees have a sense of worth and purpose and where they feel they are treated fairly. Your culture is unique to your organisation so although it’s great to know what your competitors and leading global players are doing, do not try to emulate this.  Concentrate on shaping your own offering, based on your employees and your values.   

Employee experience is simply too important to leave it up to chance. It’s your differentiator, your unique employer offering. The future of a productive and sustainable workforce is combining employee engagement and experience to work together, building an environment where employees feel valued. 

To find out more, join me at the Digital Festival in Cardiff on Monday 18th September  

About the Author: Victoria Wood  

Victoria Wood is Head of Talent at DMSG Professional Services. She has more than 10 years’ experience in the tech talent space and has worked with a portfolio of start-ups, SMEs and corporates to define their employer offering, grow their teams and retain their talent.

Victoria is a strong advocate of engaging employees and believes that the key to success is building an organisations that your employees feel proud of and genuinely want to turn up and do a great job.

After more than a decade in the recruitment industry, Victoria has recently launched a Talent Management company that works in partnership with start-ups, SMEs and organisations experiencing growth spurts, to define and execute a personalised talent strategy.