4 Employee Engagement Techniques: Small Businesses

Man pointing to sticky notes on a white-board – representing employee engagement strategy in a small business. Image by Startae Team on Unsplash.

As anybody in the business of small businesses knows, engaged employees are critical to the success of your company. Highly engaged employees are 23% more profitable than their disengaged counterparts, making employee engagement techniques a crucial aspect of any business plan. Sadly, Gallup’s 2022 research shows that only around 2 in 10 employees globally are highly engaged in their work…

This is great news for companies who prioritise engagement, though! In this blog post, we’ll share tips for creating an employee engagement strategy, giving you the edge to cut ahead of the competition.

Why employee engagement techniques are crucial for small businesses

Employee engagement strategies allow companies to create and advance a culture where employees feel valued, respected and motivated to perform their best work.

Larger companies might find it easier to attract top talent with their big budgets, flashy perks and workplaces dotted all over the place, but the top factors that retain staff are always facets of engagement – work-life balance, recognition, flexibility, communication… In fact, highly engaged companies achieve 43% less staff turnover.

Smaller businesses can leverage this to their advantage; by building an employee engagement plan into their overall business strategy, you’re able to drastically increase retention, job satisfaction & productivity (and even poach talent from bigger names!)

Employee Engagement Techniques start with…

Identifying Areas of Employee Disengagement

The first step to creating an employee engagement strategy is identifying areas of disengagement to target. Whilst this may sound obvious, many companies are taught to create initiatives when inspiration strikes, rather than systematically seeking out and tackling problems.

Whilst we’d recommend ongoing pulse surveys to consistently identify shifting levels of engagement across areas (*deep breath in*), asking your team how they feel about specific things is a great place to start. And go deeper than the generic ‘How are things?’ – think:

What’s your work-life balance like at the moment? How are you managing your workload? How easy do you find it to collaborate with other teams? What’s been the impact of the cost of living crisis on you? What barriers do you regularly run into with our systems?

It might feel a bit awkward or forced to ask these questions at first – but people really appreciate it, you’ll get a lot of info about where to make improvements, especially if you keep on asking.

Simple & Effective Employee Engagement Techniques

When you’re forming your employee engagement strategy, it’s good to keep a range of topics in mind long-term (in combination with the specific feedback you get from your team):

  1. Recognition and rewards: Recognising and rewarding employees for their work is critical to employee engagement. Celebrate their achievements and provide incentives that are meaningful to them (top tip: most businesses fail to ask their team what incentives they’re actually excited about, get ahead by digging deeper into what your employees really want).
  2. Training and development: Providing training and development opportunities shows employees that you see their potential and care about their growth – all whilst improving their skills and performance. Read more about career development & employee engagement strategy here.
  3. Communication: Open and transparent communication builds trust and creates a positive work environment. Actively encouraging feedback and suggestions is one of the biggest factors in fostering engagement.
  4. Work-life balance: Employees with a good work-life balance are happier, healthier, and more engaged. They see that their employers truly care about them, which reduces presenteeism (showing up for work whilst ill – more damaging to productivity & performance than absenteeism!) and creates alignment with the company.

Implementing Your Employee Engagement Techniques

Putting employee engagement techniques in place takes a lot of commitment and consistency. And patience. Don’t be discouraged if things on the whole don’t turn around just like that – stay focused on one facet of engagement at a time and get your team’s feedback to see if your initiative is making a difference in that area.

And when you do create an initiative, communicate your plan to your employees and managers to get their buy-in. You’d be surprised how many initiatives fly under the radar when your team aren’t kept in the loop about the why. Lastly, make sure you’ve got a way of measuring success with objective metrics so you can track your progress and adjust your course. Best of luck.

Fancy a bit more light reading? Check out our blog post about the Role of Leadership in Employee Engagement.


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