Employee engagement – the most valuable data you can measure?

In a sector driven by and for people, the types of data we can measure and the ways in which we can use it are vast. Footfall, web traffic, average spend, ticket sales, dwell time, the number of purchases, online conversions, age range, gender, country of origin, region, heat mapping… You can guide pricing strategies, strengthen marketing campaigns, predict trends, forecast demand, and identify customers… But even if you have all of this, what good is it if your customers aren’t happy?

Fact: guest experience starts with employee engagement. It starts the moment they come into contact with your brand and employee.

Exhibition centres, stadiums, shopping centres, airports, estates: these are all high intensive demanding service led environments in which operating teams have to be world class to deliver the experience clients, guests and customers are looking for, even more so now as the expectation of experience are increasingly heightening.

Most consumers place their experience as the utmost priority, so much so that according to Deloitte, 60% of restaurant guests think a positive experience will result in them returning more frequently. Guests want to be delighted, something only achieved through the human touch, leaving this up to your employees.

Employee engagement can make or break a brand’s reputation and value. It is crucial to get it right as customer experience is so quickly shared online and consumers are far more likely to share a bad experience than a good one. Consumers are more aware of their spending power, the value of their purchase and their value as a customer with the world at their fingertips. They expect more.

It’s so simple: if your employees aren’t happy, they won’t be geared up to deliver a great guest experience.

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology shows employee engagement has a direct influence on business performance and customer service, the strength of which is higher than many prescription drugs and their associated ailments.

In a 2016 study, Temkin Group reported that companies with higher success in customer experience had 1.5 times as many engaged employees as businesses lagging behind. In another study, Gallup found companies with highly engaged workforces outperform by 147% in earnings per share!

How engaged is your team?

  1. Ask them.

It’s as simple as that. Depending on the size of your organisation or culture there is a range of methods to do so, from informal one-to-ones to anonymous surveys.

  1. Ask the right questions.

How happy are they? How engaged? And what about their colleagues, managers and directors? Do they feel they are paid fairly? How about rewards and recognition? What do they think of the learning and development opportunities as well as the progression/succession available? Do they feel they have a good work-life balance? What external pressures do they face? Do they receive enough support? Do they have the tools and resources to fulfil their role? Do they feel the expectation is fair? What do they think the team does really well? What could it do better? Where do they want to be in 3 to 5 years? Have you done anything that might cause them to leave?

  1. Do it regularly.

Done correctly and regularly, employee engagement results are a powerful tool which can be utilised to improve a company culture, working environment, performance and results. It is not a one-stop solution. Communicate this is about the employee satisfaction, not the company’s gain. Action results and implement changes.

Once you understand the level of employee engagement it is absolutely key you action it. But remember, employees, don’t all want the same. Jack and Jill are different people, they live different lives and they have different ambitions, drivers and motivations. What makes Jack tick doesn’t make Jill tick. Jill wants new projects to get stuck into and opportunities to climb the career ladder. Jack wants strong bonus potential and the opportunity to get his foot on the property ladder. Jill wants to save up for a peaceful holiday in the Bahamas. Jack wants to take his 3 kids to Euro Disney. Companies have to be able to appeal to the various motivators that drive people and keep that motivation going at 6 am on the cold dark mornings.

Everyone is different, however, “Employee Motivation” research in the Harvard Business Review uncovers some generalist tactics to increase employee drive and enthusiasm. The research studied a range of employees from Fortune 500 companies and suggested in its findings that to increase employee motivation, companies must focus on filling the basic emotional drivers to acquire, bond, comprehend and defend:

  • Acquire: being rewarded for good performance
  • Bond: growing relationships
  • Comprehend: having a purpose in work
  • Defend: having an honest, fair and transparent model for measuring performance and allocating resources

According to the study, businesses need to fulfil all four drivers to increase employee engagement. If there is one area seriously lacking, employees will likely look to fulfil this elsewhere. What could be more frustrating than spending time and money onboarding and training for your highly paid workforce to join a competitor?

With minimum wage set to increase in April 2018, it is even more crucial your team is the most effective they can be.  As the first touchpoint in the customer journey, hourly paid frontline staff have the biggest influence on your guest experience. If they are not engaged and motivated, why would they retain the training and information they receive and have a vested interest in their contribution to individual customer experience and wider brand success?

Essential to all of this is regular feedback. 43% of highly engaged employees get feedback at least once a week, compared to 18% of employees with low engagement. Communicate goals, celebrate success, build a winning team mentality, communicate and embody company values, give your team the tools to deliver.

As with any recipe, you may prefer your own adaptations but the fundamental base remains the same: if your employees are happy, your customers are happy. That is a recipe for success in any business environment.

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