When business leaders look for ways to increase their profit margin, they primarily focus on the management of two key areas: sales and costs. Strategies that increase your revenue or reduce costs by streamlining your processes are common ways to increase profits. One often overlooked area that can boost your profit margin is taking steps to increase your employee engagement.
How Employee Engagement Impacts the Bottom Line
When employees are actively engaged, they are fully committed to putting forth their best effort at work. The extra focus, energy and effort provided by fully engaged employees has been shown to increase performance in a number of key areas for businesses. In 2012, entrepreneur, leadership expert and NY Times best-selling author Kevin Kruse posted an article that compiled the results of a variety of scientific studies that looked at how employee engagement impacts the bottom line.
These studies show that fully engaged employees have higher morale, lower turnover, and fewer accidents on the job, which improve profits by reducing costs. Actions taken by engaged employees also directly leads to improved customer service outcomes which build brand recognition and loyalty for the companies that employ them. This, in turn, increases sales, which also leads to higher profit margins.
Based on this research, it is clear that the best and easiest way to grow your profit margin is to actively take steps to increase the engagement of your employees.
5 TIPS TO INCREASE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT ON YOUR TEAM
Increasing employee engagement is often easier said, than done, however. Especially since many managers and leaders often sabotage their own team building efforts. The following five strategies can help you to build better relationships and create a workplace that encourages greater engagement.
Respect Your Employees - Provide Meaningful Work and Opportunities for Growth
If you want your employees to put forth their best effort in their work for you, let them know that their work matters. Give them meaningful work. Help them see how completing a task fits into the big picture of achieving your mission and goals.
Whether its job specific training, seminars, mentoring programs or reimbursement for educational expenses, you can increase engagement by seeking ways to provide opportunities for your employees to acquire new skills and abilities. As your employees acquire and develop new skills, provide them opportunities to practice what they have learned.
Make Innovation Safe - Reward Creativity and Risk Taking
Many times, employees become disengaged and fail to put forth their best effort when they feel their work isn't important. Other times, they fail to put forth their best efforts and bring you their most creative and innovative ideas because they fear that there will be consequences for failure, so they hold back and don't bother to try to give their best effort each day.
These employees might show up every day, but they won't give you their best. By openly rewarding creativity and letting your employees know that it is okay to fail when they are seeking ways to improve performance, you make it safe for them to bring you their best ideas and increase their morale and trust.
Be Clear and Fair - Provide Clear Direction, Coaching, Praise and Recognition
Another way that many leaders sabotage engagement is by failing to provide clear direction, and feedback. No one is born knowing how to do any particular task or job, and most of us learn best when we receive instruction followed up by periodic feedback to let us understand how we are doing.
Nothing kills morale and enthusiasm in your workforce more quickly than only speaking to your employees when you want to point out something that they are doing wrong. You can build trust, respect and increase engagement by offering employees' frequent praise and recognition for their efforts and results. Make a point to reward excellence with meaningful perks, bonuses and other incentives.
Be Authentic - Open the Door and Listen and Take Action
Another way that businesses kill engagement is by taking a stand on a specific policy and then doing the exact opposite with their actions. For example, a company might say they care about the opinions of their employees, and even hold regular meetings, but then fail to take action on the concerns that are brought to them.
You can increase engagement and morale by being honest and authentic. Make a point to open the doors of communication in your workplace and actively listen to the feedback, comments and suggestions that you receive from employees. Follow up by taking action.
Make it Easy to Get the Job Done - Be Flexible
Most of us have interests outside of our workplace, and sometimes circumstances in our lives impact our ability to be fully engaged at work. You can remove obstacles to engagement, as well as create a more inclusive work space, by being more flexible in the way that you allow your employees to complete their work.
Look for ways to offer alternatives to the traditional 9 to 5 schedule. Allow employees to work from home, swap schedules, or even work reduced hours some days to make it easier for them to complete their tasks while also achieving greater balance in their professional and personal lives.
Sophie Andrews is the author of The Creative Collection, Director of the Australian Bookkeepers Association and CEO of The Accounts Studio, a bookkeeping and cash flow consulting agency specializing in working with creatives and entrepreneurs.
Follow Sophie Andrews on Twitter: www.twitter.com/accountsstudio or visit the website www.accountsstudio.com.au