By Mike James, cybersecurity professional and author
If a positive business culture is the key to employee-engagement and -productivity, why aren’t all event businesses smashing it? The truth is building a positive culture isn’t easy. It takes time, commitment, investment and continual attention.
Employee-engagement is equally complex. It’s not a case of simply coercing employees to work harder with ‘a carrot on a stick’ approach. There are a set of complex and simple drivers that contribute to employees feeling engaged in their work. A positive culture encompasses all of these things and more.
What is a positive business culture?
Business culture is a key component of any business. It is the key driver of business-strategy and, essentially, describes ‘the way we do things around here.’ While every business has a culture, not all are positive.
Culture in business encompasses behaviours, ethics, etiquette, values, visions, beliefs and working habits. It is essentially how the organisation’s founders think, feel and behave. So, you can see how a culture can be a positive or negative one according to how these components manifest themselves.
Businesses voted as ‘the best place to work’ or as an ‘employer of choice’ have a positive company culture. In a positive environment, employees are happy, engaged and want to show up to work. Morale and job satisfaction are high, and employees are motivated and loyal. Ultimately, in a strong business culture, employees are more likely to feel engaged with the work they are doing.
Business culture isn’t about one thing you do, and it isn’t something you can leave alone once you have put positive cultural changes in place. Monitoring company culture is a big must. Culture and employee engagement go hand in hand, and both need to be nurtured.
What exactly is employee-engagement?
There are so many definitions of employee-engagement it can be hard to determine what it actually means. One definition, as quoted by the Chartered Management Institute, says it is:
“A workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being.”
Essentially employee engagement describes the passion, energy and commitment employees have towards their work. Employee-engagement is more than employee-satisfaction. Satisfied employees deliver what is asked of them. Engaged employees go above and beyond.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that contribute to employees feeling engaged in their work.
A sense of belonging in the workplace is closely connected to employee-motivation, -commitment, -pride and a sense of positivity about work. Employees need to feel supported, accepted and included, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age or sexual orientation. Importantly, what makes one person feel they belong in the workplace can be entirely different from another. Building social bonds and trusting relationships in the workplace are just two of the requirements for fostering belonging at work.
It is common sense to put well-being and performance together. Those with reduced stress and good health are far more likely to be more engaged in their work and perform better than those suffering from stress and health problems.
Wellness programmes in the workplace also make employees feel they are being valued by their employers, and that counts for a lot.
- Feeling heard
According to smallbusiness.co.uk, most employees don’t feel their ideas are being heard. The report claims that a fifth of employees are afraid to put their ideas forward.
Listening to your employees is fundamental to employee-engagement. People need to feel safe to say what they feel without the fear of criticism or reprisals. Listening is the key to building trust and trust lies at the heart of high-performing teams.
It doesn’t cost anything to say thank you. All too often employers think that a simple thank you is only deserved when employees go above and beyond. Yet gratitude in the workplace plays a big role in creating the kind of workplace people want to work in. Gratitude has incredible power and is a huge motivator.
One of the crucial prerequisites for employee-engagement is that they trust their managers and feel they are being fairly treated. Employees who feel they aren’t being treated fairly (i.e. their manager has favourites or is bullying) will become demotivated and disengaged.
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the need to invest in the communities around them. Companies who care about social good are attracting the best talent and this especially applies to Millennials who are becoming increasingly discerning about who they work for.
CSR has great potential as an employee-engagement tool and shouldn’t be ignored by employers. CSR isn’t about a company simply writing a cheque for a charity. It is about giving employees the opportunity to engage with a charity or local community project to which they feel connected and give them a sense of pride about the organisation for which they work.
Employee-engagement can in fact be surprisingly simple if you focus on the social needs of employees at work!