True Employee Engagement is a Two-Way Street: Here’s How to Build It
When it comes to nurturing a successful frontline team in a retail environment, employee engagement has to be a top priority. However, many employers find engagement to be a slippery, elusive quality. According to a 2021 study, 73 percent of employees would consider leaving their current jobs.
The struggle to engage and retain employees is one without a single cause. Employee engagement wanes for a variety of reasons.
For a start, retail can be a difficult place to find community. With scattered locations and a geographical disconnect, not only do employees feel disconnected from each other, but more importantly, they feel far away from the head office and the heart of their company.
This can also coincide with a more ideological gap. Frontline retail employees often feel uninformed about what goes in their company. They're separated from the company’s critical communication and major business decisions, and the information they do receive is removed from the bigger picture.
Why is Information Crucial to Employee Engagement?
Disconnected employees will be more likely to feel underappreciated and unheard. This can lead to a lack of motivation, a sense that nothing they can do will matter to the organization at large, and makes employers ignorant of the actual needs of their frontline.
All of this adds up. It should come as no surprise that companies with a poor information-sharing chain will soon face problems with customer service delivery, dips in productivity, and a level of despondence that negatively impacts their bottom line.
Sharing information with employees should go way beyond simply relaying facts and figures. Information and understanding are crucial to engagement — true engagement requires a two-way street kind of communication, offering regular feedback and insight while providing employees with channels to share ideas and offer feedback.
Simply flooding employees with information, and expecting them to be engaged, won't work. It’s a strategy that actively keeps employers from understanding their team members’ needs. Without the tools for employees to share their experiences and ideas, frontline retail workers don’t have a voice. Employers that fail to provide a two-way internal communication strategy fail to hear from their employees and therefore fail to engage them.
4 Ways That Employers Can Change to Motivate Frontline Employee Engagement
Luckily, many tools and tactics exist to help employers create great employee engagement solutions. Here are four behaviors that leaders can work to cultivate in their companies that will create real change in their frontline happiness:
1. Give your employees a voice.
You may think you’re already doing this with that suggestion box in the staff room, but employees need a lot more than that to feel heard. Employees who think their opinions matter are 4.6 times more likely to be productive at work. Provide employee engagement solutions such as software that enable people to offer feedback, talk about pain points, and connect with their peers, even if they’re physically separated.
2. Recognize and reward people.
One way to create better employee engagement is to recognize employees for their work. Incentivizing employees with rewards is also effective: Research shows that rewards can improve performance by up to 44 percent and can encourage employees to stick around.
3. Invest in employee well-being.
Today’s employees, especially those who work on the frontline of large retail companies, are feeling the consequences of burnout. Organizations that take care of their employees’ mental and physical health improve engagement significantly. In fact, 89 percent of employees who work for organizations that provide well-being programs are more likely to recommend their companies as good places to work.
4. Remember learning.
Employees need to keep learning to feel engaged. Ninety-four percent of employees surveyed said they would stay with an organization if it offered learning and skills development. Invest in digital tools for employee engagement and training. In doing so, you’ll offer employees the opportunity to better themselves and improve their knowledge of your company, its products and processes while making them more invested in their roles.
By investing in employee engagement tools and showing dedication to improving your frontline team members’ experience of work, you can’t help but drastically improve engagement. And this will be what serves you if and when times get tough.
Gys Kappers is the co-founder and CEO of Wyzetalk, a leading digital employee experience platform that enables communication and improves engagement for frontline and nondesk workers. Kappers helped grow Wyzetalk from a South African startup to an award-winning international enterprise platform deployed across five continents.