Engage your staff and you will reap the rewards

By Darren Smith

- Last updated on GMT

Smith: 'To improve employee engagement, start with feedback'
Smith: 'To improve employee engagement, start with feedback'
Darren Smith, founder and chief meaning officer at soft skills training provider Making Business Matter, discusses the importance of engaging your staff.

Back in my school summer holidays I worked in a factory, packing coffee. I wasn’t engaged in the role at all – basically, I took the money and ran.

But could I have been? Possibly. I may have then stayed a few minutes later to tidy up, or at least have got there on time in the morning. Engagement doesn’t mean everyone understanding the business plan – it means staff doing a bit more than they have to.

Increasing the efficiency of machines is easy; we look at the investment required and the potential payback. People are harder – less tangible, less measurable – yet, they can make the biggest difference. A recent Gallup poll found companies with engaged employees outperformed those without by 202%.

‘Not often enough’

Despite this, employees typically receive feedback every four months, according to another recent survey. We’re talking just a simple ‘thanks’. But it’s not done often enough. 

To improve employee engagement, start with feedback. Do it simply, do it often, do it well. By giving feedback, people will know what they do well, and do more of it. They’ll also know what they do less well, and will probably do less of it. The equation is that easy.

With the aid of Making Business Matter’s ‘Positive Production People’ product, Hilton Foods implemented feedback training in its sites – and increased employee engagement by more than 20%. The approach involves three levels of feedback.

Levels of feedback

Level one is about understanding how saying ‘thank you’ goes a long way, if genuine and meant. Level two is appreciating the value of saying thank you for doing ‘ABC’ because it meant ‘CDE’ works better. Level three involves saying stop doing ABC, because we may get more from CDE.

In among the machines, the audits, the customer and so on, is it worth the time? The research keeps saying a resounding yes.

Darren Smith is founder and chief meaning officer at soft skills training provider Making Business Matter​ (tel: 03332 472012).

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