Employee Engagement – Or How to Keep Your Staff Happy

Not everyone goes to work for the money they earn. While some people do only work to earn a living, these days, many people are motivated by things other than just money.

I believe that a more engaged workplace is a more successful workplace. What do I mean by ‘engagement’? Employee engagement can be defined as ‘An employee’s drive to use all their ingenuity and resources for the benefit of the company.’

How do you keep your employees engaged?

If you’re a manager, you need to work on four important factors – motivation (inspiring your team), consideration (recognition and support for team members), care (and understanding of their issues) and conversing (informing and listening to them). Improving each area will lead to better engagement; your staff will be happier and will work harder for you.

If you’re a leader, there are four questions that you need to ask yourself. Do people have faith in me as a leader? Are they inspired by me? Are they excited about the future of the business? How do they perceive my morality? The answers to these questions will show how engaged your team is. If you don’t like the answers you get to these questions, these are the areas that you need to work on, in order to have a more engaged workforce.

What do you do to keep your staff happy? Leave a comment here to share you tips with us.

If you’re not sure how to keep your staff engaged and happy, then come along to the half day workshop I’m running in April 2013 in Reading. Email me if you’d like me to send you the details.

How do You Deal with Long Term Absence of Your Staff?

A few weeks ago in this blog we looked at how to manage short term absence and the benefits of getting it right. Click here to read that post. In this one, we’re looking at long term absence.

Long term absence is generally more than four weeks. It needs active management of the absence and your employee’s return to work, so that you can plan ahead and organise work and temporary cover. When you’re dealing with long term absence you should regularly review progress in a way your employee is comfortable with. Ask them whether they prefer contact by phone, email, or home visits.

When making contact with them you can discuss:

  • How long they’ve been away
  • How they are feeling and whether they feel ready to return
  • If there is anything you can do to help.

Keeping in touch and remaining constructive, supportive and open to addressing their concerns about returning to work makes your employees feel cared for and valued.
Long term illness requires medical involvement to assess the effects of your employee’s condition, the likely duration of their time off and whether you can take steps to help their return to work.

Long Term Sick Leave leading to Dismissal

Hopefully, if you keep speaking to your member of staff about their illness and absence, it won’t come to this. You need to consider and discuss all the options with your employee before arriving at this conclusion. If you do reach this stage, you need to show that the absence was sufficient for the employee’s recovering and that fair procedure has been followed, in order to justify dismissing them. It should be a last resort.

Whatever happens, here are three things you should do:

  • Monitor – you don’t know if you don’t ask and you won’t remember unless you record it
  • Talk, talk, talk to your employee to offer support
  • Get medical advice – you’re not expected to be the expert.

How do you deal with long term absence? What issues have you had and how have you dealt with them?

Winter Sick Leave and How Best to Manage it

How are you and your staff coping with the winter weather and the cold and flu bugs that always do the rounds at this time of year? Most people will need a bit of time off at some point during the year, to recover from an illness, so this post looks at the benefits of managing absence in a proactive way.

Both long and short term absences can cost a huge amount – both financially and in terms of manpower. It’s never an easy conversation to have with your employees and it can be difficult to keep up with what action is lawful to take. The bottom line is this – do nothing and the problem won’t go away, but could get worse. Finding out early on what’s going on with an employee who is absent can make a significant difference to your relationship and absence levels in the future. Talking to them allows you to get to the root of the problem and provide the support that they need. By focusing in on the absence it may also deter casual absenteeism – days off here and there.

Dealing with Short Term Absence

You should have a procedure in place that requires the employee to talk to a named person rather than leaving a message when reporting their absence. A standard form should then be completed recording the date, time, reason given and predicted time of absence, to make sure the relevant facts are gathered consistently for each absence.

Discussing the problem is essential especially when an employee is taking recurrent short term absences. Maybe there is a work issue which you can help them deal with and solve. Providing the support they need results in improved working relationships, morale and reduced absence.

You should always speak to a member of staff when they return to work, irrespective of how long they’ve been away. It shows you’re taking the situation seriously and acts as a deterrent for people who shouldn’t really be taking time off. Asking how someone is feeling after they’ve been off for even one day also shows that you care about them. Keep the conversation informal but take it seriously. Ensure confidentiality, have a clear structure, record what’s said and above all remain positive and supportive. You can ask them if they visited their GP, how they are feeling now and if there anything you can do to support them. Don’t ask any intrusive medical questions!

Communicating with your employees improves productivity and decreases absence, so follow these simple guidelines when dealing with short term sick leave. We’ll cover long term absence in another post in a few weeks time.

How do you deal with short term absence in your business?

Scrooge’s Guide to Presents

In case you missed my December email newsletter, here’s a catch up for you!

The start of a new year is the time when some businesses think about how best to reward their staff for their hard work over the last 12 months. Instead of a one-off ‘thank you’, what about putting a more ongoing, sustainable rewards scheme in place?

Here’s the story of how one Dickensian employer got it right!

Ebenezer Scrooge loved Christmas! He really enjoyed giving his staff time off, to spend with their families over Christmas. He encouraged them to go Christmas shopping and to send cards to all their friends.

Mr Scrooge even loved giving presents to his staff. But he often struggled to find the best gift for each person. So one year, had a great idea. Instead of buying each member of his team a gift at Christmas, Mr Scrooge decided to set up a reward system for all his staff, which would run all through the year, rewarding them on an ongoing basis for their hard work.

Here’s what Ebenezer Scrooge did to create the best Christmas present that lasts for 12 months:

  1. He put a structure in place – just a simple one to begin with
  2. He took the time to identify the things that were really important to his staff – including non-financial benefits – and incorporated them into his strategy
  3. He invested in making his company an interesting and fulfilling place to work. This helped him to attract great people and helped keep overall pay costs down
  4. He created a scheme that was simple to understand, so that his line managers didn’t struggle to explain it. They were key to making his reward structure a success
  5. He didn’t assume that it was just about pay. According to research that Mr Scrooge read, some executives would consider a pay cut of up to 35% in order to get their ideal job.
  6. Then he reviewed the scheme and the effect it had on his staff throughout the year, to make sure he was still getting it right
  7. And finally he enjoyed spreading Christmas cheer amongst his staff all year long and they loved working for him!


Think about how you can engage your staff beyond Christmas by setting up a reward scheme this year.

Why Bother with Staff Appraisals?

Why do appraisals? Because you don’t know if you don’t ask! Basically a conversation, appraisals are great way to help you get the best out of your employees and see your business grow. Useful for finding out information and giving feedback, appraisals are also a great opportunity for employees to reflect on their goals, objectives and contributions.

What can you find out?

  • There may be expertise or knowledge within your team that you didn’t know about
  • Some employees may not be happy with their role, have misconceptions about their jobs and abilities, or how they are doing in their role ? maybe they are struggling
  • You may find out that there are gaps in their knowledge
  • Maybe they are really happy and performing well!

So what?

This knowledge allows you to sort out problems and make sure that individuals are the right people for the right jobs. Appraisals can help you make changes to your business, such as:

  • If someone is more suited to a different role, re-structuring will make a more effective use of your resources
  • You can organise training that is needed to increase efficiency
  • You may need to change work patterns, recruit or provide different equipment or tools.

Getting your employees’ views allows you to find out what they need and gives them a sense of being in control of their job. Without talking to the people you work with, you remain oblivious to problems that may be hindering productivity, motivation and ultimately the success of your business.

What you can tell them?

An appraisal is your chance to say ‘well done’ and ask questions that identify why an individual may not be performing at their best. Money is not always the best way to reward people for good work; recognition and praise often work better as they encourage loyalty and focus. Individuals who have received positive feedback about their work are more likely to give 110%. It’s a win-win situation.

When are you next carrying out appraisals with your staff? What preparation will you be doing?

For more tips on appraisals, click here to watch a short video on my website.

The Beginner’s Guide to Management

If you’re new to managing people, or you’ve been doing it for a while without much formal training, then the next workshop I’m running will be ideal for you.

Here are a few of the things you need to do as a manager:

  • Learn the principles of team building and how to get the best out of your team members
  • Understand the behaviours of different personality types and how people work together
  • Find out how to motivate and develop people
  • Practice the art of delegation
  • Learn the best practice for managing performance
  • Carry out a successful appraisal meeting
  • Learn how to give useful feedback
  • Be prepared for “that difficult conversation.”

When you can do all this, you’ll be a great manager, with a really productive team!

If all this sounds rather daunting, don’t worry. I’m running a workshop that will cover all this and more. It will give you the management skills you need and refresh and update the skills you already have.

The two day workshop will be held on 28 January and 11 February 2014 at Wargrave Cricket Pavilion, RG10 8BG. Places are limited, so click here to book your place.

Promotion – Are They Really Ready for It?

You’ve got a great salesman working for you. He’s been with your business for some time and knows the company inside out. He knows all about your products and services and does a great job selling them. You have other members of the sales team who aren’t doing as well and who could learn a lot from this person. So you decide to promote him to Sales Manager. This way, he can lead the rest of the sales team, sharing his knowledge and experience with them. He can inspire them and help create a great sales department.

However, a few months after his promotion, you notice that things are not quite going to plan. Why is this? It is something that’s seen over and over again in companies where someone has been promoted because they’re good at what they do. They end up managing other people and not doing a very good of it. This is often because they have had no management training; they don’t know how to manage other people who are doing what they used to do.

Great salesmen – and many other professions – are good at the technical side of their jobs. They’re not necessarily natural people people.

So what do you do if it goes wrong?

Always start with a probationary period, to give you the chance to review the performance of your new manager

If it’s still not working out:

  • Give them a full opportunity to any discuss problems with their job
  • You’re under no obligation to give them their old job back, but you can discuss it, if it’s still vacant
  • Consider an alternative position before dismissal; tribunals will want you to consider all alternatives before you let someone go.

Before you promote someone to management level, take the time to find out if they are really ready for it. If not, what do you need to do to make them ready to make them into great managers?

To find out more, click here to watch a short video that?s on my website.

Are your people ready for promotion?