4 Ways to Keep Employees Engaged When the Budget Is Small

Employee engagement is more than about productivity. It also means keeping your team happy and satisfied, and these also translate to business growth.

In her article in Forbes, CEO and author Camille Preston, PhD, shared some statistics that revealed employee happiness correlated to up to 20% increased productivity compared to unhappy employees. It could also boost sales by over 35% among salespeople.

If the majority of the employees are happy, the benefits extend even to those who may not feel the same way. In a study among Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, those with engaged employees increased their stock prices by 14% annually between 1998 and 2005 as opposed to only 6% among businesses that didn’t make it to the list.

Employee engagement, therefore, should be one of the foundations of any company. However, some business owners, especially those who own small ones, mistakenly believe that to keep them engaged, they need to spend a lot of money.

There are many strategies to increase employee engagement even when the business only has a small budget. Small business consulting experts often suggest the following:

1. Offer a Purposeful Job

In a 2018 survey by Mercer among 800 business executives, over 5,000 employees, and more than 1,500 HR specialists, the respondents shared that employees usually desire purposeful work.

This may be especially true among millennials, according to a Gallup survey. For one of the biggest demographics in the workforce, meaning and purpose can even supersede that of salary.

But what does purposeful work mean? It implies a job that contributes to a bigger common good. It is a link that aligns a worker’s value and morale to the company’s mission, vision, and goal. This is a type of work that makes them feel their efforts matter.

One of the best ways to show your workers their roles have meanings is recognition. It shows them that their job is not only noteworthy but contributory to the success of the company.

2. Be the Leader They Want to See

Many business owners often box themselves into specific types of leaders. However, in reality, the style depends on what the present demands.

Take, for example, the leader employees want in times of crisis. According to Wiley, workers would want to see a manager, business owner, or CEO be a strong and visionary leader. They become someone these anxious and fearful people can run to for guidance.

A leader is also a person who can help them navigate the many challenges by providing a clear direction. Moreover, effective leaders are those who sow or reignite the confidence that may be wavering inside the employees.

In the Gallup survey, millennials revealed that they want their leaders to be coaches. They are also looking for a company whose managers do not command and control but seek to build long-lasting relationships with their team.

employees brainstorming

3. Provide Them with Career Growth

A high attrition rate is costly for any business, especially for a start-up or small one. Some studies cited that it could cost a company up to 9 months’ salary of the leaving employee. But why do workers leave?

Although money still talks, that is not the only motivation to other organizations. One of the most common reasons is the lack of professional development. It is the number one explanation among surveyed employees between 18 and 25 working in small businesses who quit, based on Capterra data.

Meanwhile, Robert Half’s separate surveys involving over 2,000 CFOs and 300 employees revealed that 22% of executives and 20% of workers considered limited opportunities for advancement as a primary reason to look for it elsewhere.

Why is career development essential to employees? It means purposeful work and a sense of direction. Financially, a higher position can mean better benefits and salary. It also addresses the other two top reasons employees quit, which are lack of recognition and boredom.

4. Consider a Flexible Schedule

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights what could be one of the often-ignored desires of employees: flexibility. In a 2018 article by the Harvard Business Review, over 95% of workers want flexibility, but no more than 50% have it.

On the other hand, Flexjobs shared that at least 40% of workers would leave a job for one that has a more flexible schedule.

Companies can promote flexibility by changing their model from being attendance-driven to being more output-oriented. They can also offer different schedule options.

As Wiley said, employee engagement is a means to an end. No business, whether big or small, can claim success without productive, happy workers. Fortunately, achieving this objective doesn’t need to break the bank.

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