In order to move forward, it’s mission-critical for business owners to be finding ways to re-engage their employees.

A survey conducted last year found that almost 40% of NZ workers were disengaged. Gallup, an American analytics company, estimates that disengaged employees cost businesses the equivalent to 18% of their annual salary – which could have a massive impact on SMEs (well, any business).

On the flip side, businesses with highly engaged teams report 21% higher profitability, 17% higher productivity, better health outcomes, better customer engagement, fewer accidents, and better retention.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Ensuring your employees are highly engaged is crucial to the success of your business.

So how can business owners start to foster better employee engagement? Well, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Focus on training and development

Employers have (pre-border closures) historically relied on seasonal migrant labour. This, in turn, has made some a bit lazy when it comes to developing and upskilling their workforce – as they’ve gotten used to people coming and going (and therefore, why invest the time and money into developing them).

A simple way to foster employee engagement is to offer them development opportunities – not only does this make them feel like a valued member of the team, but it also means that they are able to fill any gaps that may arise in your business due to unforeseen circumstances (a win-win!).

Build trust

Oftentimes employees are left feeling like they are on the outside looking in. With the number of changes that have taken place over the past few years, it’s never been a better time to relook at how you include your team in any key decisions – asking for input and insights from your employees shows them that you value their opinions. It’s also good to reassess how you communicate any changes. Transparency is key here – without it, your workforce can’t (and won’t) trust you. No trust = no engagement.

Celebrate the wins

It sounds simple, I know – but celebrating individual (and business) success is an easy way to get employees engaged. Not only does it recognise and reward your high performers, but it also gives those lower-performing employees something to work towards.

Create a culture of feedback

Fostering a culture where feedback is encouraged (and acted upon when relevant) can help identify any common pain points among your team that may be hampering their engagement. From an employee perspective, giving feedback to your boss can be a daunting task – and as an owner, receiving feedback can also be challenging. Using tools like anonymous Pulse surveys can help create a safe space for feedback to be given and received – and enable business owners to act on any recurring issues to ensure they don’t turn into bigger ones.

Work-life balance

With many of us now WFH, at least sometimes, the lines between work and life have become increasingly blurred. When this balance is tipped too heavily to the ‘work’ side, employee engagement decreases as people begin to feel burnt out.

The right balance here is different for every person – which, as a business owner, complicates things. It’s worth having a conversation with each member of your team to figure out what works best for them here. If they have the capacity to WFH, maybe it’s introducing flexible working hours. If they have to be on-site, perhaps it’s reassessing their work schedule to ensure consistent days off. Maybe it’s introducing a rule about when and how you communicate with your team (i.e., maybe it’s only over email, never after 5 pm, that sort of thing).

There are numerous other strategies to boost employee engagement that I could list here – but hopefully, these few are enough to get you started!

BlueprintHow to re-engage your employees