Why we need an engaged workforce
A huge part of being a successful organisation, whether you are in the public sector or the private sector or a non-profit or charity, is improving productivity and efficiency. It is paramount to have an engaged team or workforce.
I am not a fan of the term workforce as it contains the word force alongside work which, to me at least, brings to mind that work is what one is forced to partake in. This is not the case, there have been moments in my career (as varied as it has been) that I have hit such a flow state that I could carry on working for hours and feeling that only minutes have gone by. This flow state is documented and described best by the Hungarian American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is the extreme state of being “in the zone”. It is characterised by a sense of enjoyment in the activity one is engaged in.
As employees and leaders of organisations we can do many things to help our teams to get closer to this flow state or at least to find an element of enjoyment in the activity of work.
Why do we need our teams to enjoy work?
The reasons for needing an engaged team can be varied. The business case would be to cite that an engaged team is likely to have a lower turnover. According to a PWC report companies with highly engaged employees find:
- 33% higher profits
- 51% lower voluntary turnover
- 2.5 x higher performance-related business outcomes
- 41% lower absenteeism
- 17% higher productivity
- 24% lower turnover (high-turnover organisations)
- 21% higher profitability
Despite discrepancy between sources we can agree that there are positive outcomes to addressing engagement within our teams.
Richard Branson puts it as:
It should go without saying if the person who works at your company is 100 percent proud of the brand and you give them the tools to do a good job, and they are treated well, they’re going to be happy. If the person who works at your company is not appreciated, they are not going to do things with a smile. Effectively, in the end, shareholders do well, the customers do better, and your staff remains happy.
So we have the case for engaging our team.
How do we engage our teams?
My take on this is, ask the team. The engagement of the team firstly should involve the team. I see successful companies who have developed over the last ten years or so who are consistently found to be at the top of the UK workplace list published by the Great Place To Work Institute, particularly Propellernet lead by Jack Hubbard. Propellernet’s approach to this is to put at the core of their business a purpose. This purpose attracts people who buy into that purpose but is also shaped by them as the business plan is shaped by the team in an extraordinary way to be focused on fulfilling each employees dream. This might not be the way for every organisation to create engagement but it does shine a light on setting a purpose that is team-driven.
To find a purpose within your organisation that is team-driven and aligns with the vision of the leaders and the mission of the business is not going to occur in a top-down approach. Our approach at MundoNovus would be to create a bespoke workshop or series of workshops using the Lego Serious Play method to find clarity and a solution that everyone in the team can get behind through a shared understanding and 100% contribution.
Five steps towards an engaged workforce
Engagement Multiplier has published 5 steps to creating an engaged workplace and they simplify it well. The steps they have come up with are:
- Connect your staff to an Engaged Purpose that is written for them. At MundoNovus we would posit creating a purpose that is written by the team as detailed above. Uncover what is important to the individuals and connect that to the work and the overall organisational goals.
- Measure engagement regularly. Measuring engagement needs to be an ongoing activity so that it is not just a snapshot of one moment in the organisation’s history. A business that was started by a couple of friends had a ritual at the end of each week of having each employee place their ball into one of two bins (the happy bin and the sad/disgruntled bin). This ritual gave an opportunity to take the overriding pulse of the team but also provided a way to start conversations on areas of the work that caused friction or stress.
- Show that engagement is a permanent focus, not just a passing trend. This is highly important as nothing will be more disengaging than starting an engagement programme one month and abandon it the next. Forming rituals like the one mentioned above can help to keep the momentum up. Making a regular ritual can also increase social capital and as Margaret Heffernan says “Social capital is what gives companies momentum and social capital is what makes companies robust”. A regular ritual offers a moment for teams to come together and build momentum and trust together.
- Listen to your team on their terms. Set up mechanisms for anonymous feedback as well as non-anonymous feedback so that areas of stress or conflict can be opened for conversation without any one person feeling they are becoming a spokesperson or putting a target on themselves.
- Take action on quick wins. Small ideas that are quickly and easily implemented can have the greatest impact. An article I wrote on Tiny Noticeable Things (a phrase coined by Adrian Webster) offers further insight into this.
If your organisation is in need of a workshop to examine areas of stress and conflict or to gain ideas from your team then please do not hesitate to contact MundoNovus.