Employee Engagement

It is well established that the level of their performance is directly related to how they feel about the business that they work for.

We all know that it’s a difficult climate at the moment. Jobs are hard to come by, and because of that people might be hanging on to employment that is not right for them. Likewise, employers are often faced with low staff morale because of the very real fear of redundancies due to the current economic climate.

The concept of “employee engagement” is a measure of just how motivated some employees are to succeed and how valuable they are to the business they work for.

Exploring the extent to which its employees are “engaged” can give employers valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of their organisation from a people perspective, and look at ways of improving productivity and output.

Employees who are highly engaged are those who are a positive force in the workplace. They are reliable and interested in what is going on in the business that they work for. They demonstrate a willingness to learn, absorb and respond to feedback, enjoy their work and can assume the best intent in any given scenario.

By contrast, employees who show low levels of employee engagement (or who are actively “disengaged”) can potentially be very damaging to an employer’s business. Studies show that businesses with high levels of disengaged staff usually suffer a decline in operating income, whereas high levels of employee engagement within an organisation can directly generate substantially more revenue. A disengaged employee, for example, will take on average 6.2 sick days each year according to a recent GALLUP poll, in comparison with an engaged employee who will average 2.7 sick days a year. The cost of sickness absence to employers can be enormous.

Given the substantial benefits to employers of having a highly engaged workforce, it is helpful to look at strategies that employers can use to ensure that they not only recruit engaged employees, but that they hold on to them. As we come out of the recession, job opportunities are likely to increase. Positive employees will find new opportunities. Employers would be well advised to look at ways to ensure that they do not lose their highly performing staff to competitors.

And this does not necessarily need to be complicated. There are many fairly straightforward ways for an employer to motivate and thus retain its highly engaged employees.

Incentives (financial or otherwise) may well go a long way to motivating staff and promoting loyalty. Incentives can include bonus schemes which reward performance financially, and long service increments which reward loyalty and long service. However, strategies do not have to cost the earth. Offering an engaged employer career progression opportunities, or training opportunities, can do much to encourage high levels of employee engagement. And ensuring that communication channels are clear, investing time in your employees and having an effective appraisal system are all essential components of the same objective.

By contrast, much can be gained through appropriate use of reasonable restrictive covenant clauses such as non-competition and non-solicitation clauses. When drafted carefully and reasonably, such clauses can be very effective in ensuring that employers do not lose their employees or their existing clients to competitors.

And we must not forget that employers do not have to tolerate poor performance. It is never advisable for an employer to let poor performance go unmanaged. Employers must make sure that they have adequate performance management procedures in place to address situations in which their employees are not meeting standards. If standards are falling short and business efficiency is affected, employers are best advised to get early, timely legal advice and act quickly and fairly and follow their own procedures.

Our experienced and dedicated employment team at Gardner Croft LLP are on hand to help you with your employment queries and are happy to offer efficient and effective advice to both employers and employees alike on the employment issues affecting them.

For more information, to speak to one of our team or to arrange an appointment please call 01227 813400.