Employee engagement

15 December 2015

Employment EngagementHealthy, engaged employees are your top competitive advantage. No matter how good your business model is, you still need a high performance team to deliver to your clients.

A successful business is built on a happy, committed and motivated workforce. However, the high morale and enthusiasm typical of well engaged employees can’t be forced from above. It is nurtured in a trusting, supportive environment and consistently hand-held by leaders who can communicate objectives, and are responsive to ideas and innovation from below. It’s about creating a cultural shift in the way organisations behave. It’s up to leaders to set out their vision that is good for the organisation and that means something to staff. But the dialogue must be ongoing and not just a one-off – consistency is key.

The business’ leaders must then share their vision, and value how individuals contribute. Line managers need to empower, rather than control, their teams. The company’s values should be lived and breathed, not just spoken or written in a manual, and employees must have the chance to voice their views and concerns.

Every organisation’s success is built on its people – that is the one true differentiator not replicable anywhere else in the world. Ensure your recruitment and appraisal processes are centred around your values, and you will get the people bit right. Then, you are likely to have motivated, productive staff and a more successful business. Have a haphazard approach to people selection and development and you could get it wrong. You may be faced with low morale, poor levels of motivation and higher levels of absence. And you will often be lacking that creative spark – particularly when it comes to interacting with your clients.

“Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business,” says Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group.

For organisations to thrive in the future they need managers who can relate to their staff. What importance does your organisation give to ‘soft management skills’ like active listening, motivating and empowering? Are managers equipped and confident in the skills needed to effectively manage staff and get the best out of them?

Ask your employees what works and what doesn’t – they know. Harness that knowledge productively and you will get better decision making and more innovation. It’s also a fantastic way to start motivating your staff. We recently introduced a Business Improvement Group which, led by a member of our executive team, allows team members to contribute to finding that extra 1 or 2% to improve and stretch ourselves to being the best we can. It is made up of a mix of individuals from all areas of the organisation.

Effective managers together with commitment from the board are key, however to demonstrate integrity it is essential to make good your promises. Are managers practicing what they preach? Are they behaving consistently. Be aware of your own behaviour because everybody else is.

MBM Omega initiated its own employee engagement programme in 2012 following streams of positive client feedback about personnel. We wanted to know what was behind the comments. So a chance meeting with the ex Client Services Director from John Lewis led us on an enriching and rewarding path. New employees are wrapped in our friendly culture of positivity, support and collaboration even before they join us.

This all helps build a fully engaged, high performance team. Surely that is one of the key ingredients for a growing, successful company. It has certainly helped MBM Omega grow over 30% during the past 2 years! So we are seeing very tangible benefits.

James Morton, managing director, MBM Omega