Staff Engagement. Fluffy or Essential?

Posted by Lawrence Bond June 22, 2020

“Clients don’t come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.”

Richard Branson

Everyone has been touched by recent events and employee engagement has never been more important, whether you have had furloughed workers or not. Some employers feel that their teams are lucky to have a job and that this should suffice, but are they missing a trick?

Looking at the situation in the coldest, commercial terms, there’s a huge benefit in stepping back and creating a strategy to maximise employee engagement. If you have kept your team, you clearly feel that there’s a need (or potential need) and do you want those guys to run through walls for you? Of course you do. So what else can you do, aside from holding their job open, that will cause them to be more loyal to you in times ahead than ever?

How frustrated would you be if you feel that you’ve been loyal to your team and trusted employees leave because they were feeling unsure of their place in your business. After all, they need to protect their income and family too.

Communication is central to any engagement plan and, as we’ve mentioned previously, this runs through every aspect of strong sales and recruitment/retention strategies.

One of our unique strengths is not only advising in this area but being part of it. Although an unusual ‘claim to fame’, Lawrence (our MD) used to be a magician, a talent he resurrected at the start of the Corona crisis and has led to him playing a key role in many companies engagement plans.

This started with him posting several magic tricks on LinkedIn each week to help keep spirits up and developed into him joining dozens of companies/teams on their video calls, to offer a quirky, enjoyable and interactive morale booster. It has resulting in him creating workshops to help develop teams based on the needs and values of the businesses in question and, it’s been fun for all involved.

He has done this for free and has even helped numerous contacts by performing virtual magic shows for their families (this has ranged from young kids through to more mature relatives who were struggling with various elements of the Corona situation).

Over the recent months especially, he’s seen first-hand how some organisations have kept their engagement levels abnormally high and has even caused staff at competing businesses to make inquiries about potential opportunities fir the future. Imagine that. Looking after your team so well that you get great PR that you attract and engage with top talent from competing business.

Not only has this overall engagement approach addressed the very human element involved, but clearly this will provide a commercial benefit to the business as mentioned, and aside from attracting new staff, the existing team are far more likely to provide that ‘discretionary effort’ when needed in the forthcoming months.

One hospitality client where 90% of the company were furloughed throughout the Corona crisis, have had weekly update video calls for all staff (up until the time of writing this). Aside from updates in key areas that ensured their employees know the status of the business and have been kept abreast of the challenges, their team have done some incredible things to maintain a sense of unity despite the absence from the office. This has included the Chef, who made a whisky souffle from scratch during the call (against the clock to the amusement of all!), singing, talent contests (with Lawrence being a judge!) & a host of amazing ideas that resulting in creating a phenomenal sense of unity. This regular, scheduled and fun involvement for the furloughed team has provided them with a clear message that they have not being forgotten.

There have also been workshops, one-to-ones and a sense of genuine care shown to everyone employed. Is this ‘fluffy’, time consuming nonsense or is this something that’s not only caring and perceived as ‘the right thing’, but a smart way to ensure their employees will remain committed and stay off of the job boards in their spare time. This commitment from the employer minimises the staff churn rate (which has a huge time and financial cost) and ensures their team will walk over hot coals when needed.

Incidentally, the organisation referred to here is not a huge corporate. They just have a great culture that starts with the Senior Team and runs through their organisation.

There are so many engagement tools and as we all know, communication is easier now than ever. It does however, take a little thought. So what can you do and is it too late to start a staff engagement plan now?

It’s never too late and every business has ramped up the pace of driving improvements. If you sit for an hour with a blank canvas and think about what would work for you if you were the team members in question, it’s a great start.

Even if you have already worked at this, it’s challenging to keep coming up with fresh ideas.

Simply updating your people on a regular basis, a phone call from the boss, maybe sending a thank you card, putting a post on social media to recognise loyalty or their challenges. Even a video message or a small touch can really protect your greatest asset – your people!

Why not make part of that plan to talk to us too. We don’t charge for that and we really know our market. We also know that this approach builds relationships and trust. By doing that, we can do business when the time’s right, but relationships are more important than a deal for us!

At BondMoran, we have all worked in the sector for 20+ years and run SME’s ourselves, ensuring that we can advise on many interesting staff engagement ideas. The added and unique exposure that we have been part of during the coronavirus challenge, has resulted in providing us with a truly unique perspective.

Passing on our experience and knowledge and working with you on this topic is something we’ll gladly discuss.

To see more of Lawrence’s magic…Do you need a little MAGIC?

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