Employee Engagement –  What it Really Means and How to Manage it on a Budget

Employee Engagement – What it Really Means and How to Manage it on a Budget

Employee engagement. Everyone wants it, but what does it actually mean? And how do you create it if you don’t have a heap of money to throw at any engagement challenges? We answer all these questions and more in our latest blog.

One Term, Many Views

Look up the term “employee engagement” and you’ll find lots of different definitions.

At Crosse HR, we believe employee engagement is a state of being that’s reflected in higher levels of employee motivation and job satisfaction. This results in an increased commitment to an individual’s role and the organisation. And discretionary effort over and above that which people would normally give to their role.

A wide range of research has shown that higher levels of engagement result in motivated workforces, improved talent retention, reduced absenteeism, enhanced employee wellbeing and, ultimately, a better bottom line.

No wonder businesses are keen to ensure high levels of engagement amongst their workforces.

However, most organisations have no formal engagement strategy in place and two-thirds of employees are disengaged.

So how can you get ahead of your competitors, do what’s right by your people and achieve employee engagement, even on a small budget?

Low-Cost Employee Engagement Solutions

Ask and You’ll Receive

Employee engagement initiatives need to be well, engaging. Research often identifies issues like poor management or a disconnect with the organisation’s mission, vision and values as drivers of poor engagement. However, before you invest time in engagement activities, it’s worth understanding your organisation’s specific issues so you can deliver focussed solutions.

For genuine staff insight, try gathering employee feedback via surveys or focus groups. It can pay to hire someone in from outside your organisation to carry out the research to ensure you get completely honest responses.

Not got the capacity or budget to carry out a survey or hold a focus group? Our article on the different demographics in your workforce and their needs gives great insight into what each age group values.

Communicate What’s on Offer

If your people don’t feel well rewarded for their work, the chances are they won’t give their best effort. Put this right by helping your staff understand what’s in it for them with total reward communications.

Comms can explain any bonus schemes, demonstrate the value of your pension contributions or show staff the benefits and discounts they’re entitled to. It’s worth asking your benefit providers to help you get the word out with branded posters for example. This kind of support is usually free and helps your staff understand what’s in it for them.  

Words Are Valuable and Cost Little

Communication – lack of it or not the right sort – is often a major employee complaint. And it can be really damaging to employee engagement.

Businesses often focus on what they want to tell employees rather than what employees want to hear. So taking the time to understand which communications your employees want will pay dividends. Particularly if you create opportunities for two-way communications.

Allow your people to have their say with engagement or pulse surveys and other opportunities to feedback directly to leaders. This will allow employees to express their views while giving you the opportunity to find out what’s irritating them so you can take action.

Investing in this virtuous feedback loop will ensure your organisation continues to improve taking employee engagement to new highs.  

Create a Culture That Works For Everyone

Modern employees want to work with their employers not for them. Which means taking a collaborative, partnership approach to working relationships.

What does this look like in reality? You could:

  • Make your mission, vision and values clear and give broad direction that’s aligned to them rather than micro-managing your staff
  • Show people that you trust them by treating them like adults, for example allowing flexible working and enabling people to work from locations other than the office
  • Give employees a hand in their own job design and objective-setting, helping them play to their strengths
  • Facilitate whole person growth by funding personal and career development activities

Recognise Your People

Those two little words – thank you – are more important than many managers realise. Not hearing them enough is one of the main reasons people leave their employer.

Doing the basics, like taking your team out for a drink after work or paying for lunch can go a long way to saying thank you. If your recognition budget is zero, you could award an employee of the month certificate, create a wall of amazing customer feedback or give top performers an afternoon off.

Driving employee engagement is every business leader’s responsibility. Changing your business can’t all fall on one person’s shoulders, so ensure your managers are brought into any changes to ensure their success.

If employee engagement is dragging your business results down, work with Crosse HR to diagnose your issues and prescribe a range of effective solutions. Whatever your budget, get in touch on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

New Government Pay Rates

The government has announced the new rates that will apply from April:

Cap on a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating statutory redundancy payments and the basic award for unfair dismissal: £525
Guarantee pay: £29 per day
Statutory sick pay: £94.25 per week
Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay: £148.68

National Minimum Wage:

Over 25                            £8.21
Adult rate (over 21)                       £7.70
Development rate (18 – 20)         £6.15     
School leavers (16 – 17)                £4.35
Apprentices                                    £3.90

More details can be found here.

Managing the Multi-generational Divide

Managing the Multi-generational Divide

With more people living and working longer, businesses need to accommodate more generations than at any time before. Managing employees at different life stages, often with completely different levels of experience and world views, can be a challenge. So here’s our guide to successfully managing across the multi-generational divide.

The Generation Game

There are now five generations in the workplace as the following research from Barclays shows.

Maturists – pre-1945

  • Percentage in UK workforce: 3%
  • Aspiration: home ownership
  • Attitude to technology: largely disengaged
  • Attitude to career: a job is for life
  • Communication media: formal letter
  • Communication preference: face to face

Baby Boomers – 1945 – 1960

  • Percentage in UK workforce: 33%
  • Aspiration: job security
  • Attitude to technology: early IT adopters
  • Attitude to career: careers are defined by employer
  • Communication media: telephone
  • Communication preference: face to face but phone or email if required

Generation X – 1961 – 1980

  • Percentage in UK workforce: 35%
  • Aspiration: work-life balance
  • Attitude to technology: digital immigrants
  • Attitude to career: early portfolio careers; loyalty to profession not employer
  • Communication media: email and SMS
  • Communication preference: email and SMS

Generation Y – 1981 – 1995

  • Percentage in UK workforce: 29%
  • Aspiration: freedom and flexibility
  • Attitude to technology: digital natives
  • Attitude to career: digital entrepreneurs; work with organisations not for
  • Communication media: text or social media
  • Communication preference: online and mobile messaging

Generation Z – born after 1995

  • Percentage in UK workforce: currently employed in part-time jobs or new apprenticeships
  • Aspiration: security and stability
  • Attitude to technology: technoholics; entirely dependent on IT, low grasp of alternatives
  • Attitude to career: career multitaskers; will move seamlessly between organisations and pop-up businesses
  • Communication media: hand-held or integrated into clothing devices
  • Communication preference: facetime

So what can you do to manage across these generations? What are the golden threads that link them all?

Encourage Diversity

It’s now well accepted that diversity brings different perspectives and more innovation and creativity. And research shows that more diverse groups tend to focus, question and process facts better than homogenous groups.

Generational diversity also presents the same advantages. To make the most of the full range of experience within your business, encourage employees to work with and listen to people from different age groups.

Cross-generational teams are a good way to share more experienced team members’ insights. And those with less experience can bring completely fresh ideas to the table to prevent thinking from becoming stale.

Cross-training – sharing skills between different roles – will also help to deliver a cross-pollination of perspectives. Which will keep younger generations engaged while respecting the experience of older team members.

Deliver Communications via Multiple Channels

Communication is key to management. But a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work across the different age groups in your business.

Creating a multi-channel communications plan is the best way to ensure you communicate with everyone effectively. Include face-to-face briefings and invest in business social media platforms and blogs as well as the usual all-staff emails, posters and newsletters.

Create Development Opportunities That Appeal to All

Baby Boomers want a career defined by you, their employer. Younger generations want flexibility. The way to appeal to everyone is to create career paths and development opportunities that offer the best of both worlds. Here are a few ideas:

  • Allow employees to switch between disciplines to gain new skills and share best practice
  • Create a career break policy so staff can take time out form work and come back to their job; this also creates openings for others to step into
  • Provide funding for your staff to pursue interests outside of work – by taking them outside of their comfort zone, you’ll help them gain experience that can be redeployed in work

Apply Flexibility to All

Flexible working conjures images of young people working from a trendy cafe. But it can be a lot more than that.

Creating a truly flexible working policy that appeals to all ages is a great way to keep everyone on board. Be open to the idea of letting Generation X employees work from home or create open workspaces that enable Generation Y staff to collaborate with their team.

Maturists and Baby Boomers might like the option to work part-time hours in the wind-down to retirement. And allowing those with caring responsibilities – whether for children or ageing parents – to work flexibly is another way to appeal to all workers.

Although there are marked differences in the ways different generations relate to work, there are lots of ways to manage across the divide. By implementing these ideas, you’ll engage everyone in your workforce and reap the rewards with improved performance and a better bottom line.

For support implementing management tools to harness all your workers, get in touch with Crosse HR at hello@crossehr.co.uk or on 0330 555 1139.

Scale Your HR Practices to Enable Better Business Growth

Scale Your HR Practices to Enable Better Business Growth

Growing your business inevitably means a bigger workforce. And with more people comes more lines of communication and added complexity. To operate effectively as you scale, it’s necessary to introduce technology, culture and advanced management processes underpinned by solid HR support.

But how do you scale HR? We outline the key HR changes you need to grow your business effectively and efficiently while reducing complexity

Don’t Cross Your Lines of Communication

Running a business with up to twelve employees is fairly straight forward. With a manageable number of personalities, demands and people to communicate with, your HR practices will tend to ensure you’re meeting your legal obligations.

When you reach 13 to 50 people, the situation changes. You’re in what Dan Priestley terms “the desert”: you’re too big to be small and too small to be big. Communication lines increase significantly with each additional person you bring in making it more difficult to convey messages, make decisions and complete work.

The solution? You need to start adapting your culture and communications to set your business up for even more successful and painless growth. Doing this requires a more strategic approach to HR.

Managing Culture From a Distance

As your business reaches the magic tipping point of 13 employees, it’s time to accept you can’t control everything in the same way that you used to. To counteract this, you need to start setting overarching guidelines not just about what you do but about how you do business.

Being clear on the values and behaviours that are important to your business will help you:

  • Help you recruit an authentic, strong team who are a good fit for the business
  • Identify which employees, both leaders and less senior staff, will further your business growth and those who won’t

Making difficult decisions are just one of the growing pains associated with business expansion. And having a HR resource available to help you deal with them legally and fairly is critical to maintaining employee engagement.

Recruiting and Retaining the Right People

When business growth is one of your main objectives, recruitment and retention are a key part of the plan. Making an occasional job offer for a particular role is one thing; hiring larger numbers of the best talent to accomplish your growth goals is quite different.

In a fierce labour market, your competitors are vying for your ideal candidate’s attention. To stand out you need to ensure you have a:

  • clear employer brand and value proposition – one that clarifies who you are as a business and makes you stand out to employees for the right reasons
  • competitive compensation and benefits to attract and retain staff
  • slick hiring and onboarding practices that create a great first impression and reduce turnover in the first three months
  • a clear organisational structure with job roles, reporting lines and career paths so candidates and employees can see a future with your organisation

By getting people through the door effectively and keeping them happy, you’ll retain valuable knowledge and experience, enable the business growth and save time and money by only having to hire once for a role.

Easing the Administrative Burden With HR Technology

With every new hire comes a pile of additional paperwork. Doing everything manually will soon become unmanageable. Which is why it’s so important to get sound administrative practices and the right tools in place.

Replace Excel spreadsheet with HR technology to help you manage everything from holidays and pay to emergency contacts and expenses more easily. A HR database that captures and manages all your people information and is compliant with the GDPR is a critical step.

Look for technology that enables you to keep on top of your people costs with speedy analysis and reporting. Want to know whether your employees’ productivity is keeping pace with your growth plans? Or understand how many people are leaving and at what rate? Or the cost of your benefits? HR technology can deliver this for you.

Build Your Team

Any growing business that doesn’t have sufficient HR support in place will invariably reach a point where it becomes overloaded and fails to grow. Or stumbles over employment law and finds itself in a sticky situation.

Working with an external HR consultant will enable your business to scale while minimising risk and controlling costs. With solid HR processes in place and a developing culture, your business can grow from strength to strength. All supported by a happy, engaged workforce who build your reputation as a great firm to do business with.

For scalable HR support, get in touch at hello@crossehr.co.uk or on 0330 555 1139.

Upwards for 2019

Upwards for 2019

As MD of CrosseHR I work with a lot of micro businesses, start-ups and SME’s who are starting out or moving on in their journey. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way and some issues and problems that every one of them go through on their journey which I will share with you over the next few months.

Almost of all the start-ups and small businesses tell me very early on that they do not want systems and processes, that rules and regulations (especially the HR kind) won’t work for their company, their staff are committed, loyal and do not need the stifling formalities they have all gotten away from, so thanks but no thanks I don’t need you and your rules. That is until they do! And that my friends usually happens when the magic number of 10 employees hits 11. Sometimes that shift happens when they move from 5 employees to 6. Strange but true and its very consistent. Something in the dynamics shift when businesses start moving away from hiring friends and family and dip their toes into the general work pool. Either the new employee doesn’t fit in or a nose or two from the existing workforce gets put out of joint, but whatever it is, it’s real and it happens and I get the call. The general issues that crop up which I will blog about over the next few months tend to be around contracts – yes you have to start issuing them even if you relied on a handshake before. You have got to get your holidays right and formalised and lolling around on cushions drinking beer could get you into all sorts of trouble if it gets out of hand.

Jocular, jokey cultures are great until someone gets offended that you never meant to and how the hell do you get someone to work who is determined they will get paid but do nothing for it. Your trusty loyal friend, brother, sister, cousin who you trust with your life might not have the right skill set to move onto the next stage with you and your investors think so too. And things go missing and the accounts are not quite right – they can’t be stealing surely. The staff are asking for appraisals, a system to record holidays, complaining that so and so works from home and is never in, and Jane happily tells you she is having a baby and won’t be in for a year- you are pleased for her you really are and panicking at the same time. Ben showed up for a day and hasn’t been seen since and Mo has been signed off sick and that contract you didn’t issue on time or at all, doesn’t mention a thing about sick pay. Oh and Emily has told Peter to eff off in front of a client and has put in a grievance. The lawyers have quoted you £250 to £500 an hour – that’s right an hour to sort it all out, who can afford that when you are barely affording your lunch to keep this show on the road.

All real issues that affect all real companies and the demon you never thought would enter your realm to your perfect nirvana, has blasted down your door. That HR nonsense you never thought you needed, that company you never wanted to become has suddenly happened, you just want this all to go away and get back to normal.  “Now, where did I leave that number of that HR company or did I delete that pesky newsletter I never read but they still send me…”