Employee engagement continues to be a buzz topic for HR professionals. An increasing number of employers now understand the importance of creating an energised team, which is willing and able to go the extra mile, and recognise the benefits this can bring to the bottom line. However, from speaking to owners of SMEs, it seems that many are holding back from introducing employee engagement initiatives for fear it will cost them lots of money, and even more manpower. They believe it is the domain of the big businesses, with enviable budgets, only.

But this isn’t the case, SMEs can take inspiration from the giant corporations and scale down the ideas to work for them. In return they can look forward to greater revenue growth, higher customer satisfaction and increased productivity.

Finding ways to support staff, encourage and reward them and put them at the heart of decision making creates a great place to work, and helps attract and retain the most talented people. This is why Pure is such a keen supporter of employee engagement and why our team has taken the time to research what organisations of all different sizes are doing. We hope these ideas will save SMEs some time and provide them with some inspiration. Many of the ideas have come from our own Best Employer Eastern Region Awards, through which we’re seeing more and more fantastic engagement strategies being created by smaller companies, plus some of our own company ideas!

1. Engaging work opportunities

Google has ‘20% time’ which enables employees to develop their own projects at work, while spending the other ‘80%’ on their ‘proper’ job. This has generated a lot of great ideas for the company. Smaller companies can still replicate this by providing employees with the chance to put forward project ideas through events such as company away days, or via line management sessions, with appropriate time then allocated to help them implement the idea.

2. Giving staff a voice

Groupon takes employees’ opinions seriously, and gets them involved by running staff focus groups. If you don’t feel you have enough employees, or the time, to run a focus group, encourage employees to share their opinions through a dedicated area on a staff intranet. Or set regular opportunities for people to put forward their thoughts and ideas, as part of monthly meetings for example.

3. Wellbeing

Statistics show that 85% of workers believe that employers have a responsibility to look after their health and wellbeing. We’ve discovered that Mars offers discounted gym memberships, wellness weeks, health screenings, support for people who want to stop smoking and free activities such as yoga, football and badminton, plus on-site physiotherapy. But we’ve seen smaller companies introduce successful wellbeing programmes on a far simpler scale with ideas such as lunch break walks, swapping biscuits for fruit in meetings and simple chill out zones to encourage employees to take a proper lunch break.

4. More time off

Deloitte has introduced TimeOut, the right to request a block of 4 weeks leave, without salary and with no requirement to justify what the time will be used for. Here at Pure we simply provide employees with an additional half day holiday on their birthday and an extra 2 weeks paid holiday in their 5th, 10th,15th, etc. year.

5. Fun Fridays

We’ve seen a lot of companies find ways to reward their teams at the end of a busy week, bringing all the team together with little effort and in a way which encourages everyone to get involved. For example one of our best employers holds a beer and cake Friday, with all the team taking a turn to bring in a cake which is scored and the company provides the beer.

6. Inspiring communication

Another of our best employers makes a point of encouraging staff through inspirational stories involving speakers from their customer base, who describe the difference the company’s service has made to their life. This could easily be recreated by sharing the best customer reviews, feedback or comments in regular emails, or company newsletters, so they are shared with all team members. 

7. Charity challenges

Charity challenges bring teams together as well as providing a feel good factor for the business as a whole. Some of our team recently chose to take on the Three Peaks challenge to raise money for charity. We gave the team 2 days off to do the challenge and kick started the fundraising with £1,000. The rest of the company showed their support for the Three Peaks team by taking on an additional challenge to walk 500 miles during lunch breaks.

8. Recruitment

Recruitment plays a key role in driving motivation and engagement. Recruiting motivated people and then providing them with a wide range of opportunities, recognition and rewards will help to maintain an engaged workforce.


Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Gill Buchanan

Gill is a founding Director of Pure Resourcing Solutions has worked in the recruitment field since 1988. Gill’s experience is broad based and includes eight years of specialist recruitment experience within an international specialist recruitment company including five years working within financial services recruitment in Sydney, Australia.

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