Employee engagement lessons from Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson’s people-focused style of leadership is often used as a benchmark in the HR and business sectors as the Virgin philosophy of “people are our greatest assets” is something to be admired and often a mantra for businesses to work toward. Branson’s concept of “happy employees = happy customers” illuminates the importance of focusing on your employees as a priority and engaging with them positively, and the rest will follow suit. When Branson talks, people listen. He is well recognised for his unique acumen and the emphasis he puts on his employees, right from the get go at the hiring process.

Employee engagement should be at the forefront of every employer’s agenda, as it really is a make or break in retaining happy employees who are engaged and want to be at work. Actively motivated and productive employees who are fully committed to the company and its goals, will add to the employee morale and will ultimately produce the results a business wants to see. A surprising, yet shocking, 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs according to Gallup, what about the remaining 85%? What impact does this have on companies and their morale?

It may appear more important to put all efforts, time and money into focusing on what the customer wants, however if you don’t have a strong workforce to sell / service / manage the products and services on offer, then there’s a missing link which will weaken the overall customer experience. Branson highlights four core needs which every employee has and if adequately addressed, the rate of engagement will soar.

1. Renewal
In today’s connected world, employees never switch off and are expected to be available 24/7 and this has serious physiological and emotional consequences, which diminishes any productivity and motivation. Employees who take regular breaks from their work, be it coffee breaks or a walk outside, seem to have more focus than those glued to the screen 9-5. Almost 50% of employees say workplace stress is making them “check out” ceasing to care about work at some point in their careers according to Wrike. If employees are stressed, they are less likely to be effective which will ultimately impact the level of productivity in a company, as well as their future in that particular role.

2. Value
Simply put, give recognition when it is due! One of the key indicators to increase and maintain employee engagement is to feel valued. When an outstanding job is done, or a task is smashed ahead of its timely deadline, give your employee(s) the acknowledgement and recognitionthey well-deserve. The value of a happy employee stretches far beyond measure, as it is, they who propel your business forward. When your employees are engaged, motivated and feel cared about, they have more desire to work harder, to be more innovative and to go the extra mile. In a recent study by Socialcast, it revealed that 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated. It, surely, seems logical to invest in your employees, in order to one see greater results, as well as to give employees a sense of achievement and fulfillment. It’s a win-win! Time and attention should be taken to celebrate the achievements and milestones of your employees. When one feels like they have contributed to a greater whole and their efforts have been acknowledged, they’ll feel a greater sense of happiness which in turn, will increase job satisfaction, enhance teamwork and increased retention.

3. Focus
The speed at which industries are changing and evolving means that companies are expected to upskill and process things at a much quicker rate than yesteryear. Employees are expected to do multiple jobs within the same time frame and this is putting increased stress and pressure on teams across the board. It’s a catch 22 – as there’s more to get done, yet when one focuses on a specific task at a time, more attention and intention can be allocated, which yields greater employee engagement. Employees who use their strengths, skills, and abilities every day are six times more likely to be engaged at work, 8% more productive and 15% less likely to leave their jobs (Gallup).

4. Purpose
Purpose is crucial for employee engagement, retention and productivity. Purpose for both the business as a whole as well as for each individual employee needs to be at the core of everything that a business does in order to drive the operation forward. Hiring the right caliber of people who are also passionate about your business, plus if what it does resonates with them, then this is the perfect match. If an employee derives purpose and meaning from their role, they are more likely to stay put which increases employee engagement and retention.

If you’d like to find out how to foster better employee engagement,download our exclusive e-Book and see how the Metropolitan Police Service benefited from Xexec’s services.

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