May 8, 2023
Optimise your business

Three ways to boost employee engagement & productivity

JOHANNESBURG, May 05, 2023 — With employee engagement at record lows and stress levels at all-time highs, organisations are in a race against time to motivate, support and re-engage their workforce.

Recent studies suggest that the vast majority of employees are not engaged in their work. In response, organisations are exploring new tools and strategies to improve workplace engagement.  

Steve Mallaby, CEO at adumo Payouts, says: "Disengaged employees cost their employers as much as 34% of their annual salary through absenteeism, reduced productivity, and lower profitability. As a result, there is renewed interest in driving greater employee engagement to encourage productivity, with incentives and rewards programmes playing an important role in building greater opportunity cost and renewed engagement."

One study found that more than two-thirds of employees said that being recognised by a boss or manager makes them more engaged with their work.  

"Recognition can be a powerful tool for improving employee engagement and productivity," says Mallaby. "Companies with effective employee recognition programs have significantly lower staff turnover rates. The key is to provide frequent and meaningful recognition, and to link rewards to clear goals or objectives.”

Mallaby works with South African organisations to provide an instant pay-out mechanism for employee incentives and rewards programmes that improve job satisfaction, boost motivation, and drive higher productivity through positive reinforcement.  

He provides three ways South African organisations can improve employee engagement in the workplace:

1. Training and skills development

One of the best ways to improve employee engagement is by providing employees with opportunities to learn and grow. Gallup research found that employees that strongly agree that they've had opportunities to learn and grow in the past year are 5.6 times more likely to say they are engaged at work.

"Investing in your employees by building greater depth of skills and capabilities benefits everyone," says Mallaby. "Companies benefit through higher quality work and improved talent retention, customers benefit from improved products and services, and employees feel more satisfied with their roles."

A LinkedIn report found that 94% of employees would stay at a company that invests in their career development. A separate US study revealed that companies offering comprehensive training and skills development programmes have 218% higher income per employee than those with less comprehensive training.  

"Training and development programmes help companies retain scarce talent, boost productivity, attract higher quality candidates and drive high levels of employee engagement," says Mallaby.  

2. Open communication and regular feedback

Companies that are seeking to improve employee engagement should not underestimate the role that managers play in making employees feel valued and supported. One study of US workers found that up to half of workers had left their job to get away from a manager at some point in their careers.  

"Employees that feel their opinions are valued at work are more engaged and have better overall wellbeing than those who don't feel heard," says Mallaby. "When employees believe they are supported, they flourish. In fact, employees that strongly agree that their manager helps them set work priorities and goals are 69% more likely to be engaged at work."

One of the cornerstones of healthy workplace communication is regular, constructive feedback. Frequent and meaningful feedback has been proven to engage employees.

"Open, honest communication between employees and managers builds trust which can contribute to greater engagement. When employees feel their opinions and concerns are valued, and that the organisation has their best interests and career development at heart, they are more likely to feel invested in their work and in the success of the company."

3. Employee incentives and rewards

Mallaby believes the success of both skills development and training as well as open communication in driving higher levels of employee engagement can be enhanced through an effective employee incentives and rewards programme.

"By combining incentives and rewards with training and development as well as open communication and regular feedback, organisations can build healthy workplace cultures where every employee feels valued, supported and rewarded. This in turn drives higher levels of engagement, productivity, profitability and overall success."

Rewards and incentives that are frequent and tied to specific goals or objectives are more effective than occasional or ad hoc rewards. Mallaby says organisations should partner with experienced incentives and rewards providers who can help design effective programmes that boost productivity and engagement.  

Considering the high levels of debt, overdrafts and other pressures on many South African workers, Mallaby recommends that the pay-out mechanism for incentives and rewards is chosen carefully as “the right reward mechanism will ultimately put more spending power in the hands of the employees, significantly improving their wellbeing”.

“It’s critically important to ensure the pay-out mechanism for incentives and rewards suits the employee’s needs. In some industries, employee salaries are subject to garnishee orders, meaning rewards paid into bank accounts quickly disappear, completely undermining the purpose of the reward. To gain maximum benefit from incentives and rewards programmes, organisations should choose a pay-out mechanism that provides choice, flexibility and tangible rewards to the employee.”

He adds that the post-pandemic workplace is still in a state of flux, with hybrid work environments and broader societal changes putting immense pressure on employees and employers. “By investing in employees' career development, providing regular and constructive feedback, and recognising and rewarding great performance, organisations can build strong cultures that contribute to successful, thriving businesses. In fact, a long-term study found that companies with thriving cultures increased revenue four-fold compared to companies with poor cultures."


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