In business today, you’ll often come across the phrase “employee engagement”. When an employee is engaged, they feel connected to their company and approach their job duties with commitment and enthusiasm. Engaged employees see their company’s success as being part of their own. An employee who is engaged is willing to take on extra duties, volunteer for projects, and work long hours to reach team goals.
Employee engagement is a huge factor in business success and is directly tied to higher growth and lower turnover. Employees who aren’t engaged, on the other hand, are estimated to cost companies anywhere from $450 to $550 billion a year, due to higher turnover, poor performance, and missed business opportunities. So employee engagement is too important to be ignored.
Employee Engagement is a Two-Way Street
At its heart, employee engagement is an emotional investment. Emotional investment means energy and interest. It should matter to your employees if your company succeeds, and they should be willing to go the extra mile, using their creativity, intelligence, and energy to help your company be successful. But like a financial investment, people who make an emotional investment need a return. In other words, if a company expects commitment and engagement from their employees, they have to be prepared to demonstrate their commitment to their people.
And that’s where employee development comes in. When your company takes the time to find out what their employees want to do in their careers and expends the effort to help them learn and develop new skills, they not only show their commitment to their employees, they also develop their talent pool. Developing employee commitment is a true win-win.
One of the best ways to engage employees is to provide development opportunities. Your employees want to succeed, and if you show them that you’re interested in their professional development, that will go a long way toward developing a sense of engagement.
Employee development is often interpreted as extra training, perhaps tuition reimbursement. These are a good start. But there are more ways to approach employee development.
It’s hard to over-emphasize the importance of having a mentor, especially when it comes to employee engagement. More than the training, advice, and guidance a mentor offers, they also provide a good example to follow. When someone who is more experienced takes the time to work with another employee, the rewards can be exponentially higher than the time and energy invested, both for the employee who is being mentored and the mentor themselves.
Employee cross-training, teaching an employee to work in a different department than where they are currently working, is another win-win. The company benefits by having greater employee flexibility and the employee gains more skills. Cross-training helps prevent burnout and boredom. In addition, if your company takes an employee’s career goals into account when developing a cross-training program, the company demonstrates a commitment to professional development that’s instrumental in growing employee engagement.
3. Peer Feedback
Co-workers know more about an employee’s work duties and challenges than a supervisor does. After all, they work together every day, and in many cases, they share the same job duties. So, peers can provide valuable feedback from a different perspective than a supervisor or manager, and in many ways, that feedback can be more valuable. When peers work together to evaluate each other and strategize on how to perform better, they strengthen the employee engagement level of each other and their team overall.
Employee development is a strategic way to increase employee engagement and build your company’s success. By making it clear that you’re interested in the ongoing development of your employee’s careers, you build better employees and you build a stronger company.
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