A topic that’s guaranteed to spark passionate debate among business leaders around the world. For many experts, even some of the most successful businesspeople, it remains at best a mystery and at worst a source of great frustration and lost revenues.
What makes employees commit to certain companies in the long term, while other businesses struggle to retain key personnel for more than a couple of years? Is it ultimately a question of money and perks like gym membership, catered lunches and company holidays? Or is there more to creating a truly engaged workforce?
Attempting to find a magic formula for engaging employees is arguably a misguided effort. Every company has its own brand, ethos, values and approach to communicating with its workers. There is certainly no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. However, recent studies have shown us two things:
- Improving employee engagement is an issue of critical importance for many companies. The State of the American Workplace report by Gallup revealed that only 30% of US employees are engaged in their work. In the UK, a survey published by brand engagement agency Maverick revealed that 77% of retail workers claim they are not engaged with their company’s brand values. According to the report, the sector is losing approximately £628 million per year by failing to inspire its employees.
- Organisations have an opportunity to achieve higher levels of employee engagement with technology. Many HR experts have argued that engagement is about making sure that employees are connected: to each other, to their managers and leaders, to the tools they need to do their jobs, and to the company’s values. Writing in the Huffington Post, Val Matta of job site CareerShift commented: “While you can continue to spend thousands of dollars trying to engage your employees, at the end of the day, it’s the genuine connection and trust you establish that keeps them engaged at work.”
Of course, technology is no substitute for trust between employees and their company, particularly when this emotion has developed over the course of several years. However, companies can use business collaboration solutions to keep their employees connected across multiple sites and support effective interactions between members of staff, wherever they are.
Unsurprisingly, Matta also named the creation of a “collaborative workplace” among her key factors in driving higher engagement levels. This means not only supporting employees to collaborate with their peers, but maintaining strong channels of collaboration throughout the organisation. A 2013 study by BlessingWhite revealed that trust in executives appears to have more than twice the impact on engagement that trust in immediate managers does. To be truly engaged, employees need to feel involved in the goals and strategy of the business, which means connecting them with leadership at the highest level.
The true value of business collaboration is that it empowers employees to engage with their colleagues and the wider company. Businesses cannot create employee engagement out of nothing, but they can give staff the tools that make them feel like a trusted, valued and influential member of the team.
The features of a collaboration or unified communications solution, such as instant messaging, presence and video conferencing, have a vital role to play in strengthening relationships across an organisation and fostering greater engagement at every level.