Boosting employee engagement – Why should this be mission critical?

Executive Comment

In a business where people are the product, arguably the priority for protecting profitability should be ensuring that your team is engaged. In the words of Andrew Carnegie (the Bill Gates of his era), “You must capture and keep the heart of the original and supremely able man before his brain can do its best.” Indeed, research shows that 74% of people with managers they feel engaged by are unlikely to change jobs within five years. This then begs the question, what is employee engagement and what can a business owner do to promote it?

Jim Baldoni, writing for the Harvard Business Review, argues that employee engagement amounts to “People wanting to come to work, understand their jobs and know how their role contributes to the success of the organisation.” Done successfully, the rewards for business owners become clear in terms of productivity, work culture and retention. Equally according to Gallup, only 36.6% of people feel engaged at work. Why is creating engagement so hard?

One way recruiters can assess how well they are engaging their employees is by registering with Best Companies to Work For. Regardless of how the business performs the first time, the process of having external measurement will show that management care about how people feel within their organisation and give a road map to improve engagement. Interestingly, the winner in 2021 was a recruitment firm, Adecco, where employees rated the firm as being a good experience for the future, having good progression opportunities and offering high satisfaction in terms of pay & benefits.

Straight away, this raises the question of how can you create a unique career path within your organisation for people reporting to you. Do you know what career paths those people aspire to have? If not, why not? If you are not engaging with their future dreams, you can expect them to dis-engage from your reality. A small business will not have the same financial clout as a larger firm; however, the perks one can offer are substantial, whether it be a lifestyle business, so being able to offer unparalleled job flexibility, or a high-growth business, so perhaps offering equity options for fast-track consultants creating value.

Why does this matter now more than ever? Studies show that Millennials are more likely than any other demographic to share with peers private information about their work. That is a double-edged sword, but it means your staff have the potential to be your biggest advocates, promoting your business to everyone around them as being a great place to work. This means that when you want to expand, you may only need to ask your team if they know someone and your inbox will be full of applications.

Also think about what tools you can provide your consultants in order to enable them to be more efficient productively. Millennials are the most tech-savvy generation, and they will look for any way to automate mundane tasks. On your short term P&L it may be annoying to get another LinkedIn license, but if that consultant knows they can be working in another firm with the same package and career opportunities but with all the tools they want paid for, how engaged do you think they will be with you?

In the same way, if you have tasked a consultant with building a desk, why not provide them with a tool that informs them of which companies are actively hiring? Actively thinking about how you can help them achieve their objectives and giving them the tools to maximise their earnings will demonstrate your commitment to them. Systematically thinking through how you can help them be more effective in their jobs, and giving them every opportunity to flourish, will be rewarded with their loyalty, increasing the profitability of your own business as a result.

Over the last ten years Vacancysoft has worked with recruitment firms of all sizes to help them map out market activity in order to identify growth areas and changes in demand. For more information about how we can help, please contact us.


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