The cost of doing nothing about employee engagement

When it comes to employee engagement, you have a few options as to how you can execute. One of those options is to do nothing. If your company culture is “work only”, and doesn’t offer much in the way of cultural outlets, then you can choose to not consider your employee engagement as a cost savings measure. For some this can mean a minor cost saving on the bottom line, year on year. However, the cost of doing this could be far greater than the simple implementation cost of using an employee engagement program.


For instance, if you lose your newly recruited employees to lack of engagement, the costs can blowout. The first six months in an employee’s time is crucial, with 90% of newly recruited employees deciding to stay in an organisation within this period. With a lack of emphasis paid to employee engagement, only 24% of employees in Australian workplaces are engaged, whilst 16% are actively disengaged. The Gallup Report which discovered the paucity in employee engagement stated that this costs $54.8 billion of the Australian economy annually.

A new employee sets out with the right intention. They seek a simple recruitment process to get them into the right role for them, and then to be able to perform the requirements of their job without letting the company or their team down. When they feel these goals are not attainable, they become disengaged. So how do you stop the cash drain and keep your employees engaged?

The simple answer is culture, but the implications of this become a little more complex.

The importance of company culture

Your internal brand, and how you implement it, is key in recruiting and retaining effective employees. Having a good understanding of your company values and what they represent can lead to asking candidates about their own personal values aligning with your company values during the recruitment process.

This strategy enables you to recruit candidates who are the right “fit” for your company. Not only will they get along with other employees, but the sense of teamwork at a department and company level will be enhanced. 

Additionally, recruiting candidates who uphold the company values as their own personal values are likely to champion the company culture when representing it to clients. These engaged employees are your money makers, your salespeople, and they should be highly valued in the recruitment process, potentially even above qualifications and academic achievements.

Trust and understanding

Developing a good rapport with your employees as management, being transparent or promoting trust and understanding should be part of the company culture in some shape or form.

Keeping the lines of communication open with your employees is incredibly valuable, as it prevents disengagement. You should ensure that all employees feel heard and valued and that any grievances they may have can be heard openly.

Gratitude and respect

Calling out your employees for their good work is another essential aspect of a positive work culture, and this should be represented in your company values in some way also. You should keep track of your employees achievements and regularly make a point of thanking them in front of their peers. This cannot be understated. Though you may give financial rewards for good work, verbally thanking your employees is extremely effective in reducing workplace stress in a way that cannot be generated by providing financial reward.

Though the Australian economy appears to be a crisis of disengagement, you can stop your company from falling prey to the same fate by improving your company culture in the aforementioned ways.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

Cultural breakdown: Comparing organisational, industry and company culture

Culture is a word that seems to be thrown around a lot nowadays. Though we say it all the time, very rarely do we understand the layers and intricacies of culture.

Cultural breakdown

Here is a breakdown of the three layers of culture in the workplace:

Industry culture is the unique set of values or ideals that underpin an industry.

Organisational culture on the other hand, is the unique ideas and values that underpin that company, and are defined by the workplace behaviours which set that company apart from the rest of its industry.

Company culture is how an organisation can make itself stand out amongst its competitors. In addition to this, with the right culture, employee engagement will improve, which will in turn boost productivity and the quality of work.

 

You can’t have one without the other

Both industry and organisational culture can have bad and good connotations. For example, in the healthcare industry, the culture is to be collegiate, diligent, problem solving and compassionate. However, there is a darker side in the industry. Overcompetitiveness, bullying, overwork and burnout are commonplace.

The distinction here between industry culture and organisational culture is that you can’t change industry culture, but you do have the power to change organisational culture. The way you do this is by instilling values, and acting to make employees feel appreciated and that their role is meaningful. If left uncultivated, organisational culture can work against the company, by breeding contempt and dissatisfaction amongst uninspired employees.

The same cannot be said of industry culture, as this represents a broadly believed stereotype of what professionals in that industry behave like, and a subsequent adherence to it. The good news is, that if you have a toxic culture in your organisation, this can be turned around with some well-placed campaigns.

Detoxifying culture through employee engagement

Addressing a toxic culture can be achieved by addressing the signs and symptoms. If you have cliquey, noncommunicative employees, give them praise for their work. Gratitude and praise readily improve employee engagement, and may lifts spirits around the office. Help social interaction between employees by gathering together frequently to call out workers personally for their achievements.

Using an employee engagement platform

Alternatively, if you have the means, create a platform for employee engagement which enables both employees and managers to see what achievements have been made, and making it clear who should be recognised and rewarded. This will also enable camaraderie between coworkers and hopefully they will congratulate each other.

Employ strategic allignment

Another strategy is to ensure expectations between management and employees align. There is nothing more disheartening than an employee feeling as though they are meeting their job requirements and then being told that they are not in a performance review. To remedy this situation, have an open leadership and feedback strategy. Continually track, review, and congratulate employees on reaching goals, helping them to understand their progress as it happens.

Decrease burnout through flex-time

The final factor leading to toxic cultures is when employees are overworked. This may be due to shortcomings in staffing. This can be avoided by effectively forecasting staff requirements prior to their need, so that staff can be efficiently recruited without periodic gaps in staffing. This will require examination of factors which may affect staff requirements, such as expansion of the company, product release or boom in the industry.

It’s in the definition

Put simply, company culture is important to get right, and toxicity should be avoided at all costs. Addressing toxic culture is a top priority of all managers, however, you should also engage with your employees to define your company culture. Considering these factors, and taking definitive action, will help your company to grow into an inclusive, engaging community.  

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

3 ways to reduce employee turnover

The cost of a high employee turnover extends far greater than in recruiting and training new employees. While some turnover is inevitable, driving the rate of employee turnover down should be a top priority, as retaining motivated and competent staff is the biggest driver for growth, especially growth of the bottom line.
As anyone who works in healthcare knows, prevention is better than cure. So how can we prevent high rates of employee turnover?

Find the right fit

One way to prevent high rates of employee turnover is to hire based on culture for the company instead of finding the desired level of experience for the role. This is not as easy as it sounds. It requires a strong understanding of your organisational culture,  and then application of that culture to behavior-centric interview questions to test whether a potential employee upholds the same values.
For example, if your company values strong and honest communication, perhaps ask the candidate about when they had to communicate with someone they didn’t agree with, or a longer term conflict they had to resolve and how they went about it. For more information on organisational culture and how to foster it, check out our ‘redefining company values’ post.  
Another technique is to give potential employees a mental tour of your company values during the interview, explaining the company culture and values using a clear mind map of how they translate into everyday actions.

Explore job stressors

Workplace stress is one of the biggest drivers for employee turnover. Stress alone can produce an intention to quit, and according to Firth and colleagues,  the main factors which lead to stress in the workplace or “stressors”, include “role ambiguity”, “role conflict”, “work overload” and “work-family conflict” (1).
These stressors can be mediated to prevent quitting behaviour. It is important to understand the level of stress that employees are facing by either arranging direct face-to-face meetings or by administering email surveys. Specifically asking about clarity of role responsibilities, experience of conflict with work colleagues, manageability of responsibilities or work-family conflict driven by fatigue, or staying at work late etc.
It is also important to address burnout, which is commonly caused by feeling emotionally drained, highly tense at work or inability to fall asleep due work-related issues. The study conducted by Moore found that low levels of communication between employees and employers significantly increases the subjective feeling of stress at work, and taking the time to make your employees feel heard will help to address this burden (2).

Remedy job dissatisfaction

Finally, job dissatisfaction can be remedied by providing the aforementioned support, and by improving the self esteem of your employees. This is often improved by shifting the locus of control from manager to employee so that the employees make independent decisions with minimal oversight, giving them a sense of value and competence. Together these factors will ensure that your employee turnover is kept at a minimum, once you’ve hired the right cultural. Approaching employees about their levels of stress and factors which influence it, taking actions to reduce these factors, creating rapport, developing support and providing independence so that the worker feels valuable will all go together to improve job satisfaction experienced by your employees.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

  1. Firth L, Mellor D, Moore KA, Loquet C. How can managers reduce employee intention to quit? J Manage Psychol. 2004;19(2):170-87.
  2. Moore KA. Hospital restructuring: impact on nurses mediated by social support and a perception of challenge. J Health Hum Serv Admin. 2001;23(4):490-517.

3 steps to increase employee engagement

One of the biggest challenges of our time has been how we manage to keep employees engaged in their work. All too often we seem to see employees who are competent, but not engaged in their work.
As we begin to be introduced to more and more distractions in the workplace courtesy of the humble invention known as the smartphone, it’s not hard to see how employees are becoming less and less engaged over time.
Distractions don’t have to be unproductive. It’s often noted that “business-as-usual” tasks in the office such as checking emails, and some of the biggest time drains of time we often see are sources of “semi-productivity” such as LinkedIn,
Employee Engagement becomes an issue not just to maximise productivity, but to ultimately raise the standard of work that is being produced across the board. When engagement is lacking, the type of work this produces is often just good enough to get by, but is rarely enough to exceed expectations.

Defining employee engagement

To us, Employee Engagement is defined as the the relationship an employee has with:

  1. The work
  2. The company
  3. Their colleagues 

Viewing this in context of going to work every day, we see that the reason why employees choose to not be engaged is due to a breakdown between one of these elements. The question remains, how do you keep employees engaged?
The answer is to address each of these elements at their root cause.

Step 1: Address an employee’s relationship with their role

The first step to increase employee engagement is to address a given employee’s relationship with the work. We don’t turn up to work to hang out with our colleagues, nor do we turn up to represent a great company. We turn up to work to do the work. For almost everybody, only the work matters. Employee engagement often starts by defining the role, addressing the work that needs to be done and ensuring that the work is understood. Engagement happens when an employee understands the importance of their work and also knows why they come to work. From this, a relationship between an employee and their work can increase engagement.

Step 2: Change the internal perception of the company

Internal marketing is one of the hardest things to do. In organisations that don’t have a good buy-in at an employee level, it becomes incredibly difficult to engage with tasks when there is a lack of trust or belief. To change the perception internally of a company takes a lot of guts and determination. It involves management admitting its mistakes, and owning up to them. If they can do that, it can go a long way to changing the internal perceptions.
Sometimes it takes a few shakeups to change the company perception. This might spell the writing is on the wall for some managers. As we all know, clearing the decks is not without pain. Shakeups will almost always have a lead time, so there are other, smaller things you can do internally to shake things up. This might be anything from creating more engagement at town hall meetings, or reaching out through Slack. As long as management as a whole puts in the effort to change perception, that is all that matters.

Step 3: Build the foundations for a great culture by hiring right and training well

The most important part of building Employee Engagement is to hire the kind of people that would be most engaged with the work. Part of the reason we hire based on experience is because experienced employees often engage better with the work. This isn’t always the case though, so as a rule of thumb hiring decisions should be based on cultural fit over experience.
From this, it’s important that employees get all the support they need through training. If an employee is trained well, they can find themselves best equipped to engage with the work, and less likely to engage in idle banter with their colleagues. Good training can help employees engage with each other about work matters, replacing what could be a time consuming talk to a discussion that could be beneficial to the organisation.

It takes some time to build Employee Engagement, but following this model is the best way to do it. Building the relationship employees have with their work, the organisation and each other is the fundamental way to build Employee Engagement.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

Redefining company values

A strong company culture is essential. In fact, strong and positive company culture has significant implications in all other areas of company performance. Your company values can represent anything, from the meaning which employees assign to their role in the company to the brand which consumers associate with your company name.

Defining your company values is paramount when establishing a business, and strong company values can be translated to strong guiding principles. Sometimes though, company values can weaken over time, and their meaning lost in translation. In this time, workplace culture can begin to develop toxicity, and begin the company values in turn may be viewed with apathy or even disdain. So how can you redefine your company values to represent strong ideals, to attract employees and consumers to your brand?

 

Seek the values Within

Some of the best company values can be found within the employees. You can choose to look to a management consultancy for new values if you’d like some corporate jargan, but your employees could be better define your company values. Management consultancy will generally present you with a solution that panders to management, instead of giving the company its best foot forward.
This can be done a variety of ways.
One of the best ways we have seen so far is surveying each of your employees using either email-based survey asking them what the company represents to them or what values they appreciate. This can be great to capture an honest snapshot of where the company culture sits, and where it can improve.
Alternatively, assemble your employees in a meeting to draft ideas with post-it notes. This approach has the added benefit of helping your employees to feel valued by showing them that their input and opinions matter and influence the internal branding. This alone can increase employee engagement and productivity, and once the values are actioned, employee engagement will be amplified further.

 

Actions, not just words

It’s one thing to have a company statement or set of values. But if that is all that they are, they can make employees feel that the company ethos is insincere. It is important to implement the values in a discernible plan.
For example, if “connection” was a defined value of your company, set aside time with your employees to improve their connections, one on one, not only to establish how they feel about their job and ideas of how to improve their workplace,  but also get to know them on a personal level, finding out their hobbies for example.

Practice culture everyday

Company culture isn’t something to set and forget. Asking employees for their feedback into what company values should be and then making a show of performing an action in the beginning will engage employees temporarily.
However, if this isn’t followed up with consistent action over time, it is likely to breed resentment in the same way the lack of action would. Doing things consistently is the only way that culture gets implemented. Each value should be implemented on a daily basis to build consistency in culture.
So, if gratitude is something your employees want to see more of, make a point of being grateful every day. Or if fun is in the company culture, have a few moments of fun in the office everyday.The exact action doesn’t matter, what matters is the consistency.

Keep evolving

So now that you have your company values, and you’re practicing them on a daily basis, you’re all set. Sorry, that’s a lie. Running a business is about constant development,  especially for example, you’re a new-kid-on-the-block start up. A good way to keep evolving is to constantly announce your developments to your employees and to seek feedback regularly. This will not only help your employees to continue to be engaged, but it will keep you on top of your constantly evolving company culture, keeping you flexible in the dynamic marketplace and a competitive brand for consumers.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

Translating company values into everyday actions

With only a few words, Company value statements can go a long way to defining company culture. For example, social media giant Twitter’s mission statement is “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers”.

It’s not hard to see how this mission statement translates into the platform that Twitter provides. Twitter gives everyone a voice, and internally uses this value statement to communicate that message. But it’s one thing to write mission statements and core value statements, and entirely another to act on them and provide meaningful ways for employers to belong. If in turn these statements are meant to provide an ethos for when customers bring your company to mind,  without definitive action, mission statements can feel empty and meaningless. At their worst case they can breed contempt, and for more harm than good for company culture.

Here is how to translate company values into everyday actions, helping company values become company culture.

Create a culture of recognition

Ensuring employees feel valued for the work that they do is an essential aspect of a company’s culture.  This can help to prevent high rates of employee turnover, absenteeism, work related stress which in turn promotes productivity. Rewards programs should be tailored to the individual business, but can be as simple as saying thank you at the end of the day for the contribution of your employees.

Simple acts like this have been shown to reduce work related stress significantly (1). Furthermore, calling out the individual actions and successes of your employees by name in a meeting such as a daily standup is a very effective way to improve employee engagement and productivity. Beyond this there are other clear cut methods of recognition with financial rewards such as promotions and bonuses, however this isn’t necessary to improve workplace culture (and in many cases can create a toxic culture instead).

Be transparent

A great way to improve workplace culture is to create trust amongst employees and management. All business decisions should be made transparent, and employees made to feel that they’re welcome to address any issues or concerns that they have. Feedback doesn’t need to be discouraged if it isn’t completely actionably, but for many employees it’s about knowing that your voice will be heard.

This can similarly be very simple to action. A lunchroom suggestion box or anonymous feedback surveys by email  are all it takes to build this sense of transparency and rapport with your employees. Simple measures that are built around concrete actions will help to show you as a company care about what employees have to say about their workplace. Without transparency, employees may take their grievances to gossip, breeding an unhealthy workplace culture of discontent and eventually eroding employee engagement.

Support a Cause

We’ve previously touched on Herzberg Motivation-Hygeine theory, but it’s always good to revisit. Engaged employees are employees that feel that their work is meaningful and valuable. Supporting a charity or having your workplace volunteer their time to a cause/fundraiser is an excellent way for employees to band together, improving teamwork, and making them feel their contribution is meaningful in the world that they live in. This has a double effect of improving company brand,  as customers are more likely to see your company as one that cares about the environment and corporate social responsibility, which is becoming ever more important in the current corporate climate.

These three very simple actions that you can implement into your workplace will help you shape your company culture. Of course core value statements are still important and help to define your unique company culture. However, don’t rest on your laurels and turn these statements into a mockery that employees resent, rather than a motto they can be proud of.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

  1. Dasborough MT. Cognitive asymmetry in employee emotional reactions to leadership behaviors. Leadersh Q. 2006;17:163-78.

We can be heroes: Side Benefits of using an employee engagement platform

We all have different pieces of software that we use at work, and often they tie in with helping us be more productive. Of these different pieces of software, Employee Engagement Platforms have become one of the most popular ways to passively increase employee productivity through rewards and recognition. The benefits of this are clear, in that being recognised makes you feel good, and helps you do good work.
There are other benefits to using employee engagement platforms that go beyond this core value proposition. Employee Engagement Platforms like WooBoard can provide employees with a means of communication, a springboard for ideas, and most of all, a source of inspiration.

We can be heroes

The David Bowie song “Heroes” has the simple chorus: “we can be heroes”. This simple message has been repeated many, many times over in a variety of contexts, but for now we will use it in the context of employee engagement.
Employee Engagement Platforms are a way for employees to be inspired from a single source. For some companies, Employee Engagement Platforms become an everlasting fountain of inspiration internally. When recognition is published in a single source, its effect is amplified, letting employees know that good work is being done in their workplace. This helps good work go viral.
Eventually, with enough employee recognition, employees can be inspired to do good work. Hence, “we can be heroes”.

The means of communication

One of the ways we have seen WooBoard be used amongst organisations is as a means of communications internally. WooBoard’s Status Update feature lets employees broadcast their own communications quickly and effectively. Instead of simply sending messages via email, a Woo is more likely to be looked at than an email as it is viewable in public. By making communication public, any internal communication can be broadcast widely.

The other way that employee engagement platforms like WooBoard are used is in that they give employees a chance to communicate their internal dialogues, such as expressions of gratitude, positive internal feedback and even to share their wins.

A springboard for ideas

Finally, one of the best ways that Employee Engagement Platforms can be utilised is as a springboard for ideas. By constantly being able to be provided with inspiration sources, employees can use these engagement platforms as a springboard for ideas.

Of course, the most important way in which Employee Engagement Platforms are used is in building up employee engagement (as if to state the obvious). Engagement manifests itself in lots of different ways, but ultimately if the engagement is positive, the platform is simply the means to the end goal.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.