With a growing skill gap, talent shortage, and employee churn, enterprise leaders now have employee engagement as a top agenda item. But the modern realities of hybrid work and a socially conscious workforce demands something deeper than received wisdom. We asked James Scott, CEO & Co-Founder at Thrive.App for his unique insights on the issue…
Employee turnover costs companies billions of pounds each year. And, more significantly, 38.6% of employees who leave their jobs do so within just a year. But this is not inevitable. Enterprises that have paid attention to their employees’ voice, and designed a more engaging workplace culture and environment, have not only retained their employees but also attracted new talent. The watchword here is “designed”. An engaged workforce comes from an engaging workplace. And an engaging workplace is never an accident.
James Scott sat with us to unravel what this engaging workplace looks like in the modern world of diverse, hybrid-working, globally dispersed teams. Speaking from his experience working with such organisations as Wiltshire Police, Biffa and Avis Budget Group, he gives specific and immediately useful advice for business leaders.
Meet James Scott
CEO and Co-Founder, Thrive.App
James Scott is the CEO of Thrive.App. He was raised in Lisburn, Northern Ireland and studied Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast. He has worked in the mobile tech sector for over 20 years. He co-founded Thrive.App in 2010 to open the world of app building and maintenance to anyone with no specialist technical or design skills required. Over the last decade, it has served the B2B enterprise employee engagement and communications market, with clients like SGN, Air France KLM Group, SSE, Biffa, and more.
CEO.digital: How Does Employee Engagement Contribute to the Success of a Business?
James Scott: Employee engagement is very dependent on employee experience. If an employee has a positive experience with a company, they are more likely to be engaged in their work.
Ultimately, taking time to focus on your employee experience strategy and making a conscious effort to ensure your workforce are engaged and satisfied within their roles can be hugely beneficial for your organisation. After all, those who are happy at work are undoubtedly more likely to enhance the customer experience – and what business wouldn’t want that?
If employee journeys are poorly managed employees may eventually become disengaged and less committed to their jobs. This is easily avoidable with some straightforward planning; just as a marketer or operations team would use a customer journey map to improve customer or client experience, business and HR leaders can use an employee journey map to both visualise and improve employee experience, which then has a huge impact on employee engagement.
What are the key elements of an effective employee engagement strategy?
Employee engagement is determined at each stage of the employee experience, and therefore it is important that businesses develop a holistic view of the stages, in order to understand what employees are experiencing, and track what is working and what is not.
These stages begin right at the start at the recruitment stage, right through to when an employee leaves a business. A successful employee engagement strategy outlines what needs to take place at each of these stages, who within the business is responsible for them, what the objectives are and most of all, how the employee might be feeling. Having empathy is the most effective tool for any business.
Finally, a successful employee engagement strategy enables employees to communicate and collaborate effectively and easily – not only for work purposes but to form personal connections with team members too. Being part of a team that feels connected and is a support network, will ultimately increase employee engagement as a result.
How Can Employers Ensure that their Employees Remain Motivated, Supported and Engaged in Hybrid Environments?
Hybrid teams are naturally more disjointed than teams working together in the same office space, so factoring in regular social and human connection opportunities builds cohesion within the team and encourages higher levels of employee engagement.
Successful hybrid working relies heavily on effective, well-managed communication to reduce the risk of poor information flow as well as team members who work remotely feeling excluded or isolated from the rest of the team. It isn’t just restricted to individual teams and departments – internal communication should involve everyone across the business and be guided by the leaders at the top.
For teams that are dispersed and working in different locations, communication and ensuring inclusivity in a working day is important for team updates but also to facilitate opportunities to collaborate, share creative ideas and make time for team building.
Research useful tools for effective internal communication and employee engagement to find a simple and yet secure way of connecting dispersed and hybrid teams. Depending on what you are looking for, these tools can go beyond basic comms and keeping everyone in the loop: they are also a great way to increase employee engagement and gather continuous feedback in real time, showing employers at any given moment in time how satisfied and happy their workforce is, and what actions need to be taken to improve their employee experience.
Given the current talent landscape, what can businesses do to retain their workforce?
A recent study by Monster found that the UK’s average employee turnover rate is around 15% a year, costing on average £11,000 per person per year, based on average annual salary. This figure is even higher for more specialist roles, and so it is vital that businesses are focused on retaining staff, which means quickly acknowledging anything that could be the cause of unhappiness or disengagement and making necessary changes to keep employees happy.
Added to the cost of employee turnover, there is a current shortage of skilled workers across many industries, particularly in manual labour. This means there is a much higher need for businesses to connect with their workforces in sectors such as logistics, manufacturing, and focus on retaining them.
Making special allowances like automatic language translations within communications can help employees feel valued and part of a team that is understanding of their challenges.
This is especially important at a time when good, skilled workers are hard to find, but consumer demands and expectations continue to rise. Employers need to stand out from the crowd, onboard good people and keep them, so that they can keep up with increasing workloads. Keeping employees engaged within their work is a vital part of that.
A successful employee engagement strategy enables employees to communicate and collaborate effectively and easily – not only for work purposes but to form personal connections with team members too.
James Scott CEO and Co-Founder, Thrive.App
How can Business Foster a Sense of Bond Within Teams?
Fundamentally as humans, we respond to collaboration with other humans. With the ever-growing hybrid and remote working landscape, businesses are experimenting with different ways to foster the team spirit, which goes far beyond mission statements and talking about values and culture.
For example, having a policy and tools in place that encourage employers to share critical updates from the business side with employees, helps to give employees a sense of purpose within their role. After all, we all want to feel like the work we are doing is truly making a difference.
Flexible and remote working has quickly become the most popular workplace benefit, but with a dispersed workforce, transitional means such as ‘all hands’ meetings can be difficult to facilitate. Consider technology as your friend in this situation, as it enables updates to be shared with employees in real time, whilst respecting their preferences on whether they are in the office or working remotely.
Technology can also be helpful in sharing policies and support on areas such as mental health and wellbeing for employees. A central portal for employees to access materials they need, whenever they need them can go a long way in showing they are more than just an employee, and that the business recognises the human struggles that we all face from time to time.
Why is employee engagement integral to the success of sustainability strategies?
Sustainability agenda can be a powerful way to bring employees together around a common goal. It requires an active role from everyone in an organisation — all team members, from leadership down to the front line, need to be engaged in doing their part to help the organisation achieve sustainability success.
Leaders can begin by involving every team member in defining sustainability in their organisation. Every industry is different, and every business or entity within that industry will have a different starting point when it comes to sustainability.
Use communication technology to send out pulse surveys and provide employees with a means to comment on initial efforts to define sustainability. From there, create focus groups or task forces to tackle sustainability strategy development and execution.
Learn More About Company Name
Thrive.App Ltd, established in 2011, provides the technology and support to assist organisations in ‘powering’ up their internal communications and employee engagement. Their intuitive content management system enables anyone in your organisation to take charge of your company communications, creating and adding content to a single employee communications platform and distributing it to your teams’ mobile devices. Their clients range from SMBs to the largest multinational organisations who are all using Thrive’s platform to create and tailor their own employee communications apps to enhance their internal communications and further engage their distributed teams. You can learn more about Thive.app by visiting the company’s website.