A recent Glassdoor* report shows clearly that engaged employees drive customer satisfaction, which in turn positively impacts the bottom line for most companies. The report states, “there is a strong statistical link between employee well-being reported on Glassdoor and customer satisfaction among the largest companies today.” There is in fact a growing body of research that shows a direct correlation between engaged employees and the satisfaction of customers, that ultimately translates to positive business outcomes.

Key Drivers in the Workforce

Before I expand on the five strategies, it is important to understand that there are key drivers or base desires for your workforce – these are explained by a favourite author of mine, Daniel Pink who has created six thought provoking books about business and human behaviour. Daniel has been proposing for over a decade that for an employee engagement strategy to work, the following human workplace drivers need to be considered:

·      Autonomy – The desire to be self-directed. It increases engagement over compliance.

·      Mastery – The urge to get better skills.

·      Purpose – The desire to do something that has meaning and is important. Businesses that only focus on profits without valuing purpose will end up with poor customer service and unhappy employees.

Interestingly, there is no mention of obvious things like more money or less hours for improving employee engagement or satisfaction. A recent study from Bath University also reaffirms this concept where intangible things, like meeting professional goals, assistance to reduce stress at work, or achieving personal growth, rated just as highly as salary increases.

The Five Strategies For An Engaged Workforce

1. Improving Employee User Experience at work

Forbes recently released a report Why HR and UX Should be Best Friends which explained that when you put in the time and effort to create great experiences for both customers and employees, morale, capacity to care and productivity go up, and ultimately the success of the organisation.

Businesses pursue a positive customer experience that is low stress and high in value – the same principle needs to apply to their employees. This means examining your employees’ experience much like you would assess your customer pipeline. Improving the employee experience of your organisation centres on enabling your staff to do their jobs effectively – this is achieved by providing the tools, training and the ability required to create better customer experiences through their work.

2. Organisational support – for development and for life

Enabling your team members to work how they think they can best perform involves a lot of trust in that person. As a manager, you can also show your support, by providing the opportunity to present and profile skills across the organisation, access to training and development, or the allocation of some interesting projects to demonstrate that they are valued and mean a lot to the organisation.

With 2020 being dominated by COVID-19, I was encouraged how often I saw managers showing real commitment to their teams’ wellbeing and supporting team member’s entire life, not just their professional life. It is a simple concept that when employees feel valued, they tend to value their employer in return.

3. A place for constructive feedback – for managers and team members

The prospect of feedback, giving or receiving, can often connote fearfulness and negativity. In reality, it is something that most of us appreciate, and can be positive or negative, plus it is crucial to our development – after all how can we learn, grow, and get better at a whole range of things when we are not aware of errors or incorrect assumptions.

I should emphasise that constructive feedback needs to be respectful and it is no surprise that giving such feedback is a bit of a skill – there is room for improvement for managers to get better at giving feedback, and employees to get better at receiving it. Further, constructive feedback needs to be a two way street and managers need to receive it as well – for many years I have strongly advocated for leaders to enable their teams to provide 360 feedback sessions on their leadership skills and abilities – feedback enables us all, as managers and team members to continually improve.

In the words of famous philanthropist Tara Winkler: “When we know better, we do better.”

4. A fair and open workplace

Within the Australian identity, there is the firmly held tenet that everyone deserves “a fair go”– although I think fairness or what is the right thing to do is probably something that is part of our collective moral compass. I have witnessed colleagues and staff members become disengaged, and sufficiently frustrated to drive them to seek new employment due to their perceptions of favouritism, prejudice, or where things just don’t seem fair.

Establishing a culture of fairness in the workplace comes about from openness and transparency – this can be achieved with simple things like strong visible values in the organisation, understanding and addressing employee expectations, and clear career pathing processes with tailored development programs to help employees achieve their goals.

5. Help to improve

As humans, we are hardwired to learn and improve every day, even if outwardly we are unaware of it. Whether providing time and money for training, access to mentors, the ability to work across the business, or the availability of development opportunities, these have been proven ways to drive engagement. Providing resources and investing in your staff is a clear indication of your trust and belief in them which generates increased loyalty and retention.

It is How You Make People Feel

On a final note, a hero of mine, Maya Angelou, an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist said: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

My recommendation is to keep this philosophy in mind and think about how you can positively impact the work life of your employees. Investing in their happiness and how you can make your staff feel at work, will generate positive outcomes for your customers and your organisation right now and into the future.

*Glassdoor is a website where current and past employees can post anonymous reviews of their employer.