Getting the most from your staff | Royal Bank of Scotland


Boosting employee engagement

Smaller businesses can have a huge head start when it comes to employee engagement, as the values of the business are often a reflection of the founder or owner-manager’s values, and their behaviour will reflect what they say and stand for. These values should provide a focus for the team to centre around and work towards.

The organisational structure also tends to be less complex, meaning that communication is often simpler, face-to-face and, therefore, more effective. 

For a staff member, engagement generally means they will feel passionate about their work, committed to and proud of the business, and want to give their best each day. The knock-on impact for the employer is higher performance, fewer absences, more innovation, and a consistent reflection of company values. 

Two roofers

Lead by example

How the found or Managing Director behaves sets the tone for how the company behaves

Be inclusive

Ask everyone's opinion, and make everyone feel their contribution is valid

Be clear 

About your purpose and values, why your business does what it does and how it will behave

Support from the top

Drivers for change can be top-down or bottom-up, but support from leaders is vital

Colleagues at wallchart
Add your signposting title here… Value loyalty

“Happier employees are more loyal,” says Patrick Ladbury, business development director at communication and service design agency Uscreates. “They work hard, and don’t bear a grudge for doing so.” In contrast, unhappy employees take their talent elsewhere.

A simple tip is to reinvigorate internal communications, keep it fresh, rather than sticking to the same old newsletter.

Ensure that, as a leader, you are regularly visible: running smaller businesses gives you the opportunity to be seen regularly by employees, which is not always the case in larger companies. To maximise employee engagement, make sure there is no sense of a ‘closed door’ transmitted to staff. This kind of visible leadership gives clear direction.

What other companies are doing

Staff benefits that boost the company
Jojo Maman Bebe gives all staff the chance to undertake vocational or academic education while working

Be socially responsible
Innocent donates 10% of annual profits to a foundation that helps the poorest people in countries that their fruit comes from

Respect your
John Lewis calls its employees 'partners' and empowers them by enabling them to suggest, trial and run with ideas

Engage with your community
Marketing agency Stills bought all customers at its local coffee shop a free coffee on a random day to 'spread some love'

Think outside
the box
KPMG gives employees their birthday as a holiday (or an alternative additional day off) and a lunch allowance

Men with grain sacks
Add your signposting title here… Keeping the momentum

Start-ups score particularly highly on employee engagement – there’s enthusiasm about the new business, and a sense of being in at the start of something special. Maintaining that enthusiasm is the challenge!

Online marketing entrepreneur Brandon Landis claims that small gestures, such as saying something nice to every employee every single day can boost both productivity, engagement and overall happiness. “It takes a few seconds, but makes a huge difference in employee perceptions of how much they’re valued in a company,” he adds.

More and more employees want to work for organisations that meet their ethical, social and environmental responsibilities. Over half of all millennials in the UK are attracted to companies whose values are aligned with their own, according to PwC.

The key is to think about how these values affect you in practice – what will they mean for the way you treat employees, suppliers, customers, community and the environment?

What next?

Our Mentor service can help with HR and more

RBS Mentor

Key things to think about when employing staff

Employing staff
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