Engage Your Small Business Staff for Better Performance

Part of the HR for Small Business For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australian Edition)

The buzz phrase for the modern productive small business is ‘employee engagement.’ An engaged employee is one who is committed and enthusiastic about his or her work, and thus is prepared to put discretionary efforts to further the employer’s goals. Discretionary effort is the preparedness to do more in your job than you’re strictly paid to do. It can mean working additional hours, assisting other employees, and contributing ideas above and beyond your own job tasks.

The key benefits of an engaged group of staff are revealed in better rates of retention (staff loyalty) and overall productivity improvements. Research conducted by academic boffins all show that the better performing businesses (across a range of industries) have more highly engaged staff, therefore it’s worth the effort to introduce your own program to engage staff in the success of your small business.

How highly engaged an employee is in their work can be measured by an employee's positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues and organisation. It’s not that difficult to get employees to be more engaged in your small business. Try these measures, for example:

  • Listen to what employees say about the work. If they’re doing the work for you then maybe their views are worthwhile.

  • Recognise really good work performance with immediate praise if you want to see the performance repeated.

  • Instill a bit of fun into the workplace. Just because we are working doesn’t mean it has to be serious all the time.

  • Share business results with your staff. It’s nice to know how well the business is going and how the staff contributes to its success.

  • Honest feedback from staff is essential if you’re to improve the business culture. Get an external consultant to run a survey every year to learn what staff really think of you and your business.

  • Commit to the task of improving communication, confidence and urgency. If you chose not to engage with staff, then they will disengage from you.

  • Flexibility works both ways, so be prepared to give a little to get some back. This could include time off work to attend to family issues or community participation, such as volunteering.

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HR for Small Business For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australian Edition)

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