People power

Nita Clarke, joint author of Engaging for Success, discusses the importance of motivating your employees

Nita Clarke, joint author of Engaging for Success, discusses the importance of motivating your employees

Nita Clarke, joint author of Engaging for Success, discusses the importance of motivating your employees

With 2010 rapidly approaching, employers in all sectors will want to kick off the year on a positive note and inspire employees to help drive the company forward. While the next year is likely to remain challenging, businesses are starting to look ahead to a period of economic recovery; their first step should be to ensure they have a strong connection with the people on whom success will depend in the year ahead.

Earlier this year, I co-wrote (with David MacLeod) Engaging for Success, an independent report to government exploring the role that employee engagement can play in increasing performance. Our report identified compelling evidence of the impact that an engaging culture – through which employees feel informed, empowered and supported to play their role – can have on areas such as innovation, productivity, employee advocacy and absence rates/voluntary turnover. Indeed, one study shows that if organisations increased investment in a range of good workplace practices which relate to engagement by just 10 per cent, they would increase profits by up to £1,500 per employee per year.

So, how can managers create such a culture and galvanise their teams to harness the upswing? Here are some simple steps that businesses can use to stimulate greater commitment, motivation and performance during 2010.

•    Communicate strategy

Have you explicitly communicated with others regarding the goal and direction for your business? Have you helped build their understanding of business aims and where they fit in? If not, take time out in a meeting, or call employees together for a special discussion, to help them understand plans and where they fit in

•    Make an event of it

Make conversations about strategy ‘out of the ordinary’: hold brainstorming sessions, create a workshop or simply hold a team meeting at a different time from normal. Help employees see that they have a chance to shape the way the business works so they recognise and respond to the opportunity

•    Welcome new ideas

Make sure the involvement lasts beyond an initial meeting. Regularly ask your people for their views on key issues, or their input on how to tackle problems that affect them. Sometimes small amendments to working practices can have a big impact on the performance and efficiency of your organisation. Take every opportunity to emphasise that their input is valued

•     Define a clear and single goal

Some organisations start the year with a shopping list of proposed aims and activities: but this only confuses and disorientates employees. The more you complicate your message, the less impact it will have. Crafting a single goal or theme will help you build common understanding among your people and create a foundation for more detailed communication and engagement to follow

•    Be flexible

Plans change and evolve as circumstances demand. Be open about this with your people. Keep them updated over the course of the year, using team meetings or quarterly update sessions on business progress. And make sure that these are opportunities for discussion, feedback and suggestions on how the team can collectively address emerging issues and opportunities

•    Celebrate success

Too many organisations leave their strategy on a slide and don’t celebrate the progress they make. A new idea, a change to processes, a new client – they are all opportunities to show how your people have helped shape the business and aided its success. This, in turn, can inspire other people to go that bit further to help you. Use team meetings, noticeboards and/or more formal channels (if you have them) to show how employee actions have helped progress towards common goals.

As part of the government’s commitment to implement the recommendations of the review, the People InterAction campaign seeks to inspire employers to take action and encourage employees to play an active role in a more engaged and participative workplace. Further information is available at:

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