If you’re growing your business, and customers are happy, just how much does employee engagement matter?

“To ignore employee engagement is to ignore one of the fundamental ways that you grow businesses—which is through people and relationships,” says Chris Powell, CEO of Talmetrix, a software company that facilitates, measures and helps improve employee engagement. Chris has spent more than 20 years as an HR executive and practitioner, helping companies and talent develop, perform and succeed.

And, argues Chris, if the small business owner is looking to expand or grow their business, the employees become the multiplier effect of that organization’s ability to achieve their business goals. “Wouldn’t you want to know what drivers are behind employees’ motivation and satisfaction to get you to where you want to go? Wouldn’t you want to know more insights about what is driving your most important asset?” says Chris.

Employee Engagement & Business Outcomes

Improving employee engagement helps business leaders support employees in their personal and professional journey. And, just about every business outcome is connected to engagement: productivity, innovation, performance, aligning culture, attracting customers, retaining customers—the list goes on. “All the outcomes related to performance and productivity, revenue growth, and more—all of that’s connected to people, primarily your employees.”

Can Consumer Marketing Teach Leaders Employee Engagement?

Organizations are familiar with using market research and consumer insights, combined with data mining, to understand more about their customers. Doing so allows organizations to know who their most profitable customers are, who the customers are that bring in the most referral business for them, and what customers they may need to replace in the future.

This kind of marketing research informs product and service offerings to retain customers. “Companies use that information as a way to be that multiplier effect in terms of attracting and retaining new customers”, add Chris.

But that same kind of approach can also be used with employees in order to cultivate greater engagement, and it often never is.

“An organization should be able to collect and mine employee insights or workforce insights to figure out how to better attract and retain talent, which then can help [the organization] better attract and retain your customers and grow the business,” explains Chris.

“In the old Biblical terms they used to say, ‘Know thyself,’ and I say from an organizational standpoint, it’s the same philosophy: know thy employees, and know thy customers, and you’ll find a winning solution. Often times you see companies have more data and insights about the customers than they do about their own employees, yet some organizations fear soliciting feedback and insights from employees.”

Start Small

If business owners aren’t already doing so, they can start small by conducting short survey with employees. These quick and casual surveys can be as simple as asking employees a series of key questions.

Start with questions such as:

  • What would help you do your job better? Or, are you getting the tools and resources you need?
  • What are the things that are in your way or preventing you from doing a better job here?
  • What is it that you are trying to achieve in your role?
  • What else can we help you to do?

With a company of 15 employees at Talmetrix, and being in the engagement business, Chris asks similar questions to his employees on a regular basis. “One of the things about human behavior, people love to be asked about themselves. It’s about starting a casual conversation to garner those insights from people.”

What to Monitor

An effective approach includes in-person feedback and continually asking for feedback from employees. Aim to understand the motivations and aspirations that make up your employee base. Second, look at the entire workforce environment. Chris calls these the motivation drivers and satisfaction drivers, which he explains are two very different levers of engagement that drive results.

Once feedback is in, be sure to communicate results or findings with employees. Otherwise, they can distrust the process. “Also, don’t assume a parent-child relationship with your employees,” says Chris, which sometimes happens after getting feedback from employees.

“That can set up a hierarchy—because in every family, there is a patriarch and a matriarch, and that goes against creating a more democratized organization,” says Chris. A democratized organization is one in which employees feel like they have a voice, they are free to share information, and they are more engaged and empowered as a consequence.

“Another mistake I’ve seen is yes, you’re employing people, but never assume that you’re doing people a favor. Employee and employer are mutually in an adult-to-adult relationship. Both are mutually engaging to partner together, to bring value to ourselves, and to the business, and to our customers.”

Engagement is Not Solely Senior Leaders’ Responsibility

Effective communication after any program or initiative is critical, and it really comes down to building relationships with employees. “Always thank people for their feedback, because feedback is a gift,” says Chris.

After thanking employees, then it’s the hard work of figuring out the action that needs to be taken. But employees must take ownership of their own engagement as well. It’s not just up to management or leaders in the organization to keep employees engaged—they can support employees’ tools, resources, the environment and the workplace—but that is only part of the picture.

“Management is not responsible for employees’ level of passion, drive or motivation,” says Chris. While leaders are there to help and model the way themselves, it’s employees’ choice, buy-in and energy they bring to work each day that also will support engagement over time. “Employees also play a criticalrole in improving their engagement, and they need to understand and explore what drivers them to be engaged and productive. Employees need to know thyself as well.”

About Chris Powell

Chris Powell is CEO of Talmetrix, the most powerful way to measure, facilitate and improve business outcomes through employee engagement. Chris has more than 20 years as an HR practitioner and executive. His passion is helping organizations and talent develop, perform and succeed.

Grow Your Ability to Motivate & Lead Others

Ready to engage your employees? Make ongoing feedback and development a part of your routine, and empower your employees (and peers) to continually grow and improve. Attend the Learning to Work through Others workshop to invite your team to be more engaged, to do their best thinking, and to do their best work. Reserve your spot today.