Three tips to improve employee engagement and effectiveness

In our age of the “Yelpification” of the workplace — where employees can rank an employer just as easily as a hotel or restaurant — it’s become clear that employee attitudes can influence a company’s brand equity. (Look no further than Uber’s past troubles.) Still, close to two-thirds of employees in the US alone report being bored, detached or jaded at their jobs. In fact, some are even motivated to sabotage plans, projects and other people in the workplace. These issues suggest that too many organizations have yet to take this aspect of the internet revolution as seriously as they should.

Employees want a more empowering work experience.

Millennials, who account for more than 15% of the global labour force today, and will be 75% of it by 2025, want a more enriching and empowering work experience than many workplaces currently offer. And organizations like Airbnb, Tesla, GE, DuPont and Nando’s are listening. They recognize that it takes more than nap pods and tech perks to keep their most important business assets engaged and on track; it takes investment in their employees to ensure they see themselves not just as workers, but as valuable partners and decision-makers involved in the business-building process.

Managing employee attitudes makes good business sense.

Just as it’s cheaper to retain and grow a current client’s business than it is to acquire and develop new customers, it’s far more costly to recruit and replace staff than it is to develop skills and abilities within the organization.

For better business results, gauge the extent to which your employees’ attitudes influence your brand presence in the marketplace. One way to do this is to use social listening platforms like Brandwatch, which allow you to measure the sentiment of the talk around your brand, products and campaigns. Such tools can even hone in on conversations to identify specific issues that may be harming your brand. Another technologically-driven but lower-cost option: take the pulse of your employees with anonymous surveys delivered via cloud-based software like Surveymonkey. If your employee satisfaction scores are lower than you’d like, consider the following tips to engage, empower and enrich their experience in your workplace:

1. Include your employees in the decision-making process.

Consider John Lewis Partnership, an umbrella group that holds two of Britain’s biggest retailer brands. Every one of its more than 87,000 employees is considered a partner in the business. They’re empowered from the top-down to make decisions that can have a lasting effect on the company’s bottom line. In fact, the organization prioritizes grassroots participation and shared decision making so much that it employs 50 full-time ‘democracy coaches’ whose only job is to deepen the level of engagement and participation of its staff. Likewise, Airbnb provides employees with access to the app Life Dojo, which guides people to focus on what they should consider important in both their personal and professional lives. The result: 90% of Airbnb employees recommend the organization as a great place to work.

It’s important to remember you don’t need to completely transform your organization to empower your employees. Simply adopt an employee-first mentality that takes your teams’ pain points into consideration, gives them more control over their work and its outcomes, and prioritizes transparency over hierarchical, behind-the-scenes decision making.

2. Equip employees with the right tools to get their jobs done more effectively.

Productivity depends on our ability to stay connected while on the go. According to data collected over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50%. To ensure your teams can collaborate effectively, equip them with the right tools to help them stay connected. An abundance of affordable, cloud-based apps and software, including Microsoft 365,  are available to support every team’s communication and project management needs.

While you’re at it, ensure they have access to reliable and high-performing WiFi, so they’ll always be connected at the workplace. Fibre internet is ideal for many organizations, because it delivers the speed and bandwidth needed for many devices to connect to the network at the same time, with no loss of performance and lower latency than other internet options.

3. Offer growth opportunities.

In a recent survey of nearly 1,500 US workers who were taking online courses, about 67% said they would apply their new knowledge and skills in their current jobs, but only 5% received financial help from their employers; 8% got time off to study, and 4% had the coursework included in their performance reviews. Yet, with so many massive open online courses (MOOCs) available, including those offered on platforms like Coursera and EdX — not to mention affordable accreditation programs offered by organizations like the Canadian Marketing Association, Chartered Professional Accountants and professional business schools among others — there’s really no viable reason for employers to hold back on supporting growth opportunities for their staff offered by third-party programs. Employers could even take it a step further and develop in-house learning and eLearning modules, like the top 10 examples posted here.