Moving past the employee engagement hype

Factors such as an ageing population and falling levels of work-immigration to the UK are placing jobseekers in the driving seat. Employees are more able than ever to move from company to company, often just for small increments in salary.

In an environment where employers are increasingly struggling to manage costs, retaining staff is becoming critical and firms are racing against each other in a bid to find sustainable ways to differentiate themselves as employers. Effective employee engagement is now without doubt one of the most effective and well recognised ways to achieve this common goal.

One company that has led the charge to address this problem and offer employee engagement as a solution is Centralus. The company has led the creation of a whole new industry in employee engagement and helped many clients transform their businesses over the last three years. To propel employee engagement further in the UK, through additional thought and expertise, Centralus has formed a joint venture with US specialists MIT Ventures Inc to create MIT Ventures Ltd.

“If organisations continue to pay just lip service to their employee engagement and don’t now start to implement a fully formed strategy, they could face devastating staff turnover figures in less than a year,” says David Callaghan, chief executive of MIT and Centralus.

Why? Most people would now say they are more stressed than ever, with greater financial issues, feeling undervalued by employers and being demotivated in their careers becoming major challenges for employees. However, they are looking to their employers to offer them support in all aspects of their life.

Unhappy, unengaged employees are less productive, which affects business success. They then have an effect on both the team around them and newly recruited members. So you eventually lose experienced members of staff and are forced to make new, costly hires, leaving the business to suffer.

Getting a handle on your employee engagement strategy now will help you become the employer of choice tomorrow, not the former employer of yesterday

You must start to implement a well-structured plan for employee engagement before you are left behind. It’s not enough to just implement one-off or small-scale initiatives without a clearly defined strategy of what you offer and how this will be communicated to the workforce.

“This results in a lack of cohesion, confusion for staff, but maximum effort for those implementing it, with no recognition, and high cost to the business. Essentially firms spend small fortunes on what they think is employee engagement, but fail to get the benefits,” says Mr Callaghan.

For example, many employers spend millions on pension contributions, which they see as a huge benefit for employees. However, many employees have no idea of actually how much their employer has invested for them, often not even knowing where to start to look for this information.

Providing this information via a personal portal transforms the whole pension experience so that it now adds value. The employee gets real-time access and appreciates what their employer has put in place for them.

MIT offers an advanced employee engagement solution that addresses these issues head on, ensuring all elements of the employee’s wellbeing are catered for from financial to mental and physical. It’s the ability to bring all aspect of the employee engagement experience into one, easy-to-access place that makes this approach so successful for the employee and employer.

The portal provides the user with access to their pensions progress and payslips in the same place as a 24-hour confidential helpline, expert counsellor and qualified doctor, while also only a click away from potential savings of thousands of pounds with retail discounts for everyday purchases. Staff can make use of a great selection of tools that have a tangible effect on their lives.

Mental health and staff wellbeing go hand in hand and happy staff make a huge difference to a company. Having an asset that shows you actively care about your staff is more valuable than monetary recognition of an “hour of manpower” alone.

Addressing these pressing employee issues really can affect the bottom line of your business. MIT works with clients whose challenges range from not being able to attract the right calibre of staff through to businesses that are simply finding it hard to compete due to unhappy staff who are not being as productive as they could be. Both of these ultimately affect the central business objective of growth.

The MIT solution helps businesses address these issues directly with one complete response that has proven increased engagement rates. Rather than simply providing a suite of tools with no analytics or data on how they are being used, MIT concentrates on giving clients accurate data on how employees are using these solutions, as well as the ability to adapt and therefore increasingly capitalise on it.

This reporting enables companies to see how engaged their staff are with their benefits package on offer, with users of the MIT portal reporting engagement rates of more than 90 per cent as opposed to most individual offers, which often get less than 5 per cent engagement.

“This information helps our clients differentiate themselves in a competitive market, with tangible data and information about the benefits their staff are using while working for them, which is better than simply promising we do employee engagement. This has already helped our clients secure more work and contracts themselves as long-term staff members build confidence in the business”, says Mr Callaghan.

Those often hard-to-measure aspects of employee engagement, happiness and motivation, are shown in reduced staff turnover and increased productivity levels. This means fewer costs in the recruitment and training process, where companies can spend hundreds of thousands of pounds each year training new team members only to lose them for small salary increases elsewhere.

“Ultimately this is a must for all businesses; getting a handle on your employee engagement strategy now will help you become the employer of choice tomorrow, not the former employer of yesterday,” Mr Callaghan concludes.

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