Happy staff translates to more profitable organizations by Mohamed Debouk
1. Why is employee engagement essential?
Employee engagement is so important because it not only influences the wellbeing of the employee, but also the performance of the business. Countless studies show that happy employees translate to more profitable and customer-centric organizations. When employees are engaged, they are more productive with lower rates of absenteeism, resulting in better business performance. A recent Gallup study showed that a five percent improvement in employee engagement can result in a three percent increase in sales.
2. What are the ways that companies can do employee engagement?
Employee engagement requires more than a few workshops and away-days. To create a truly motivated, empowered and happy workforce, organizations must couple engagement tactics with a positive company culture and an effective leadership approach.
Companies with the best track-record for employee engagement have built a culture that fosters mutual reliance and effective relationships among coworkers and that values teamwork, collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and communication.
Designing job roles that are meaningful and challenging helps to stimulate employees and gives them a sense of value in their day-to-day work. It is also important to support these roles with talent management and transparent work processes.
Further, recognition does wonders for motivation, so celebrating success by recognizing and rewarding high performing individuals and groups is a great way to boost engagement.
Supportive and nurturing leadership is also key for employees to perform at their potential. Hiring managers that communicate strategy, clarify expectations and support employees by helping them structure their work and prioritize their tasks is key to ensuring your workforce is engaged. Managers should be available to answer employees’ questions and provide ongoing support, feedback and communication so that employees always know whether they are meeting expectations.
Lastly, measuring employee engagement along with other organizational and employee performance indicators is a great way to see firsthand the relationship between these factors and benchmark the business for future growth.
3. Employee-management relationships sour during tough times. How will employee engagement programmes help in these situations?
Any relationship, including a marriage or friendship, is tested during tough times. However, if the relationship is healthy and based on trust and communication, it is more likely to endure through the low points. Employee-management relationships are no different. If a company has a culture based on open communication and transparency, employees are more likely to feel invested and empowered to do their part to ensure the company makes it through the tough time. Engaged employees are more likely to stay and are ready to go the extra mile for their employers, even when the going gets tough.
A lot of companies make the mistake of avoiding communication with their employees when things are not going well. They also avoid measuring employee engagement levels because they think salary increments would be the biggest hurdle and they won’t be able to do anything to address it. However, from our experience, we’ve seen that communication, transparency and clear objectives have been the biggest pain points for employees.
Assessing engagement levels, whether through surveys, focus groups or combination of both, and including and involving employees in coming up with solutions for the challenges enhances engagement and helps employees feel that they truly have a voice.
4. What are the important customer-centric initiatives that every company must adopt for success?
Companies in Oman are now waking up to the importance of customer-centricity. With increased competition and the challenging economic climate, customer experience is now taken front-of-stage as a tool to boost business performance. In light of this, we find that many companies are revisiting their strategies to shift customer experience up their priority list. Some companies are even going a step further to create new Chief Customer Officer or Chief Customer Experience Officer roles.
To adopt a customer-centric approach, it is important for companies to first define exactly how customer-centricity would fit in the organization. Leaders should create a clear vision that rallies the organization and put in place standards to guide behavior from the management all the way to the front line.
Creating a customer-centric strategy is also key. The strategy must consider the expectations of your customer, how the company can meet them, and what your competitors are likely to do. The strategy should seek to answer the simple question: What would make the customer come back time and time again?
Where most companies go wrong is they do not look at their services from the customer’s perspective. Mapping the customer journey is essential to properly understand exactly how your customers see and experience your business from every interaction. Often we find that small changes can make a world of difference to the customer experience.
Finally, it is important to measure your progress through metrics and surveys to keep on top of how your customers perceive your business and services.
5. How can one balance customer-centric approach and employee welfare?
Customer-centricity and employee engagement go hand-in-hand. In fact, it is extremely difficult to maintain a customer-focused approach without happy and motivated employees.
Your employees hold the key to customer satisfaction. They are the ambassadors of your brand and give the organization a face during any interaction. Customer-centricity requires employees to change their mind-sets and behaviors so that the customers’ needs and wants are at the forefront of every business decision. Training and empowering your employees through relevant development programs helps to build awareness of the customer and their needs, drives buy-in, and equips your staff for customer centricity efforts to move forward.
If employees are feeling disenfranchised and undervalued, they will be less likely to go out of their way for customers. However, if your business makes employee engagement a priority, this will have a direct effect on customers. In essence, happy employees translate to happy customers.
CEO New Metrics LLC
New Metrics is a Muscat-based Management Consultancy specializing in customer experience, employee experience and training.