Staff engagement is the starting point of productivity; a perennial SME business owner complaint. Many of the business owners I speak to expect productivity to happen either by edict or by magic – as if it’s got little or nothing to do with them. Well here’s a news flash: if it’s a problem in your business then it’s your problem.
High levels of productivity does not necessarily mean “work hard”. It means apply yourself in the most effective way possible; a process that requires thought, planning, good execution and consistency. Staff need to come to work with their thinking caps on, with high resolve and a willingness to cooperate and of course, to work. Such staff members could be said to be “engaged”. Maximum productivity can only occur from employees that are fully “engaged” if you have not taken active steps to engage, you have not earned the right to expect high productivity.
Staff engagement comes about when there is an emotional connection between the member, their boss and the business; a resonance that energises and mobilises, spurring people on to do things that they would not otherwise be inclined to do. In addition, high levels of staff engagement is a great indicator of long tenure and loyalty. In essence these phenomena are the outcomes of great leadership.
All people are different. Different social, ethnic and educational levels mean their individual motivations and dispositions need to be considered in order to drive staff engagement. Depending on the size of your team, this could be a big task. It requires the organisation’s management ethos and systems to embody adequate levels of Emotional Intelligence to make the emotional connection with individual workers.
Nowadays, it is very common for employees to take seriously the business’s profile within the community, the causes it supports, its business vision and the values it holds. If these are not legitimate and sincere, there will be nothing for the employees to get behind, low staff engagement and low productivity will result.
Having the vision and values etc. in place is by no means the end of the road. You will still need to invest in building an understanding of each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, aspirations and fears, and opportunities for growth within the organisation. This can then be used to shape and improve your communications and incentives for each individual. This will make them feel far more relevant and valued and give you the right to expect high engagement and productivity.