Staff engagement goes to the heart of the relationship with employees and is key to fulfilment at work – people feel empowered to be the best they can be when they are respected, involved, and valued for their contribution.

It is not an optional, fluffy nice-to-have: differences between the best and worst engaged organisations reveal 40% lower employee turnover, 62% fewer accidents, and 18% higher productivity.

Engaged employees know their work affects their company's goals and priorities in an environment that reinforces their values and beliefs. They know what’s expected of them (and why) and feel connected with other staff and parts of the organisation. They are, and will always be, your most important asset.

And employee engagement doesn't have to bear any financial cost – improving culture and business processes often take little more than time and effort. 

"the first step towards engaged staff is to find out what they really think and want"

Getting to know your staff is as important as learning about your customers.

What do you really know about your staff? Do you know less about them than your customers? Look at the ways you communicate with employees too. Is this command-and-control information or involving, engaging, dialogue? 

You need to know where you’re starting from by talking to staff – and above all listening to them. This does not necessarily mean expensive surveys or outside consultancies: the first step of this journey towards engaged staff is to find out what they really think and want.

how to engage employees.

There are a number of employee engagement tools about, some of which are cost free. However, use with caution, as some have the ability to overcomplicate issues and resource use.  

Engagement is about communicating both ways. For example, younger employees, who have never known a non-digital world are used to shorter, punchier messages rather than lengthy emails. The best communications also work as a dialogue, but in the same way that communications must be tailored to the audience.

People like to hear about strategy and vision from company leaders rather than line managers.

Team briefings are more suitable for communicating core business messages – but actively engaging staff can be more challenging.

The major government study "Engaging for Success" identifies leaders and line managers (and their attitude to engagement) as crucial to employee engagement. If bosses aren't on board – from CEOs to supervisors – it will be near-impossible to achieve true engagement and the many real bottom-line benefits that follow. 

Employee engagement only occurs when organisation goals match employee aspiration, frequent effective communication is the glue that binds them. To develop an engaged workforce, the organisation must first engage with its employees: just remember that engaged employees work hardest, stay longest, and perform best.