Employee engagement has a major impact on fostering a culture of continuous improvement in your business. Workers who can see how they fit into the bigger picture are able to innovate with company goals in mind, and are more motivated to make improvements to streamline tasks and get better results.
In short, people who are invested in the success of your business will look for ways to improve it. Here are 5 ways to create a more innovative culture through employee engagement:
1. Don’t Stifle Your Employees
Precise procedures for every task can prevent workers from looking for a better way to do things, and can send the message that you don’t trust the judgment of your workers. This will dissuade them from putting forward new ideas or improvements:
- Try to avoid creating a business culture that is overly protective of your tools and processes.
Your staff should be able to suggest changes to your tools and process without facing resistance simply because it is not the way you have always done things.
This undervalues your staff’s problem-solving skills and understanding of their roles, and workers will be less engaged with the success of your company if they feel expected to blindly follow procedures without considering the bigger picture.
- Enable teams to streamline busywork.
This not only makes them more productive, but also lets them spend more of their time on challenging, engaging tasks. According to Accessperks blog, 97% of employees say they are happier and more efficient when they are tackling new, challenging work.
For example, letting your teams adopt automation tools gives them more time for other tasks, meaning your business has greater room for growth without hiring more people.
- Increased ownership over the way they work motivates employees to improve.
Workers who are made responsible for their tasks are more willing to innovate. Efforts to streamline tasks and improve the efficiency of your company should be recognized and respected even if you decide against adopting the changes.
There is a clear link between employee engagement and support for innovative strategies. If you want your team to adapt and grow your organization, employee engagement is a key factor to consider.
2. Transparent Autonomy
While each team needs to have the freedom to change the way they work, it is equally important for this to happen in a transparent way.
Documenting the decisions and problems that lead to new methods is vital not just for everyone to understand new processes, but also for other parts of your business to be able to adapt to new ideas. This should include reviewing the success of new practices. For example, if customer service streamlines a process, they should pay attention to the effect on their efficiency, but also how it impacts your overall Net Promoter Score.
The ability to see and understand the reasons behind improvements can inspire your employees to innovate in their own work, and enables workers to collaborate with other skillsets to solve common issues.
3. De-Silo Your Teams
It is much harder to innovate when people can’t easily share ideas outside of their own department. Furthermore, when teams don’t talk, updates can cause confusion or clash with the way other parts of your company work. As a result, changes that could have saved your business time or improved results can fail due to poor communication.
An important first step in encouraging more collaboration is to use tools and software such as your CRM that can be easily modified or added to. The best CRMs for small businesses offer a wide range of integrations to let your staff find and share the tools they need.
In addition to empowering your teams with the autonomy to improve their processes and tools, you also need to give them the ability to share ideas and feedback. Not only does this enable your business to more easily adapt to improvements, but also lets workers collaborate on updates and benefit from other department’s ideas.
4. Workplace Improvements
Employee engagement’s contribution to your continuous improvement culture is not limited to changing the way people handle their daily tasks. In fact, one of the best ways to get everyone engaged with improving your company is to give them more control over their workplace:
- Employees should have a way to suggest improvements to their workplace and unimportant rules.
Acting on feedback to improve the small things in your employee’s work lives has a big effect on staff feeling their opinions are valued and taken seriously. Staff who don’t have a say even when it comes to minor rules are not going to feel it is worthwhile to put their ideas forward when discussing more important matters.
- Your workplace atmosphere affects customers
The increased employee engagement and job satisfaction from doing this can have a big impact on your customer experience.
Happy, engaged staff are more pleasant for customers to interact with, and are able to collaborate and make decisions to achieve customer-oriented goals. US supermarket chain Trader Joe’s focuses on building a positive and rewarding workplace for its staff, and as a result it is renowned for its friendly, helpful workers.
Here are a few examples of seemingly minor workplace issues that can have a big impact on employee engagement:
- Lateness policies
If you are unwilling to overlook a great worker occasionally being a few minutes late from their break, they won’t be as willing to go the extra mile for you.
If your employees say this is causing disorganization or friction between colleagues, you should consider their alternatives.
- Blocked websites
You don’t want your workers to spend all day on Facebook or Youtube, but at the same time people want to access these sites in their downtime, and blocking them shows you don’t trust them to stay focused.
Similarly, if your employees don’t feel you are trying to improve their day-to-day work lives when they highlight a problem, they will be less motivated to make improvements that benefit your business.
5. Listen To Feedback
The first step to improving any part of your company is acknowledging there is room for improvement.
Enable workers to provide honest feedback and criticisms of both your internal and customer policies. Asking for this kind of feedback and taking action based on staff concerns makes employees more engaged with how their work affects the business as a whole. Listening to feedback is a key factor in employee engagement.
As a result, people who feel their input is important are more motivated to anticipate and act on potential problems. If someone spots a problem but doesn’t have the means to raise the issue and be taken seriously, they are far less likely to spend their time and effort trying to provide a solution to the issue.
Employee engagement and continuous improvement culture are very closely connected.
Show that you value employees’ contributions by listening to feedback and entrusting them with the responsibility to change the way they work, and enable staff to share and collaborate on ideas. By helping teams understand how they fit into the bigger picture, your business can benefit from having every employee fully engaged with the success of your company.