How can you ensure your team is happy, empowered and ready to get stuck in? Mike Edwards, head of people at Love Energy Savings, gives his advice
Some employers fear giving their staff a voice, hoping they’ll avoid any issues and grievances by burying their heads in the sand – or worse, allowing a culture of fear to take hold where staff are anxious about speaking up. This attitude isn’t productive for your business; a miserable workforce is rarely (if ever) an effective one. To ensure your team is operating at its highest efficiency, it’s time to start taking employee engagement seriously.
“To attract and retain the best employees, it’s really critical your business considers the unique needs and motivations of employees, and treats each member of staff as an individual,” Mike Edwards, head of people at Love Energy Savings, explains. “For some it might be as straightforward as salary compensation, but for others it might mean working at a fun company with regular team nights out, or managers who really care about their wellbeing.”
Here are Mike’s seven tips on how to empower your employees and improve morale.
- Provide ongoing training
After surveying more than 1,400 people, Love Energy Savings found that almost half (49%) didn’t think their employer was offering them enough learning and development opportunities. Most employees want to feel that they’re learning and progressing and that they’re developing their knowledge and skills. Giving your employees their own budget to spend on training courses, conferences, qualifications – and even books related to their industry – is a great way to boost morale and put them in the driving seat of their own development.
- Make benefits personal
Our managers take the time to find out what their staff want and what benefits will motivate them, knowing that not everyone enjoys the same things. For some, a staff night out with free drinks is their idea of a fab perk. Others might appreciate a birthday voucher towards something they’re saving for while, for others, flexible working hours are key so they can have more time with their families. Putting the decision-making power in their hands means they’ll appreciate the benefit much more than a ‘one size fits all’ scheme.
- Set targets collaboratively
Everyone wants to feel they have a purpose in their role. It’s easy to set targets for jobs in finance, retail or sales, but most employees in other areas would benefit from a target to aim towards too. Targets might be based on time, or something niche to your industry, but, rather than just plucking a number out of thin air, and hoping your employees jump on board, you should work with your team to help them set their own targets. This will encourage accountability and give them a way to measure and track their own progress.
- Get to know your team
Getting to know your team members shows you respect them as human beings and will help them feel less like they’re just a cog in the machine. Find out what’s important to them, what they care about, the names of their children, their birthdays, their football teams. You don’t have to become best mates overnight, but taking a genuine interest in your team really shows you care for their welfare and not just how much money they can make for you.
- Encourage activities outside work
All work and no play will make your workplace dull and boring. It’s great to have a driven and dedicated team, but when your colleagues become workaholics it’s easy for them to get lost down the rabbit hole of anxiety, burnout and even depression. In the long run this certainly isn’t good for them, you or your business.
Encourage your team to take part in activities outside of work. You could set a group challenge such as an obstacle run or a bike ride to raise money for charity. At Love Energy we offer weekly personal trainer sessions in our very own gym, which is regularly used by all staff across the business. It’s not always fitness fun, though; we also encourage team members to take part in ‘Happy Hour’ across the road in our on-site bar and restaurant, giving people a chance to unwind and connect after a busy week in the office.
- Give and receive feedback
We constantly strive for reviews from all our staff members, distributing an employee survey each year to gather feedback on all aspects of the business. A structured programme of employee reviews and appraisals gives staff a framework within which they can grow, learn and ultimately perform their job to a higher standard. To take it one step further, allow your employees to give feedback to you as well – whether in the form of a sounding board, a suggestion box or even within the formal setting of their appraisal. Our annual employee survey found that 98% of employees believe that their manager is open to feedback – it’s something we truly believe is worthwhile for all involved.
Showing you accept feedback sends a strong message. It will gain you the respect of your colleagues and create a more open and honest work environment where feedback is acted upon from both sides.
- Celebrate achievements
It’s so important to celebrate achievements to show hard work is recognised and keep morale high. Give the power to your employees by letting them choose who deserves to be employee of the month and make the prize something to really write home about. Recognise the small achievements too. Whether it’s a great client meeting, passing a qualification or representing your company at a networking event, everyone likes to feel valued and appreciated. A simple thank you can go a long way.
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