There are many diverse opinions around the subject of nurturing staff and employee engagement. Some people believe it’s ‘all a bit fluffy’ while others are committed to the cause. In my opinion, it is essential to nurture staff and cultivate a more engaged workforce which is invaluable for any company. This is especially so in a complex and challenging industry like property management. Recognising that our staff are generally under a lot of pressure, makes it even more vital to consider their wellbeing.
Is it all a bit of fluff?
A negative company culture is like Japanese Knotweed, once it’s in, it’s very difficult to shift. It can result in high staff turnover (something that seems to be prevalent in our industry) as well as the potential for lost business and poor performance. Many companies believe that their efforts to engage their employees have created a competitive advantage. Moreover, numerous studies highlight a positive correlation between happier staff and productivity at work. So, there are significant tangible benefits to consider, yielding quantifiable returns on the investment in your staff. If you are a property manager, what happens if you don’t manage a building well? Or if you fail to understand the nuances and individuality of that building and don’t effectively plan for its future? Would you be doing your job well? The same logic needs to be applied to staff because nurturing your staff is about investing in one of your biggest assets.
Clap along if you feel that happiness is the truth…
Here are some ideas and practical solutions to engage your workforce.
Flexibility - In 2014, the law concerning flexibility in the workplace changed, encouraging employers to consider flexible working hours and patterns for all staff, (not just carers or parents). This highlighted the changing attitudes from traditional business working hours to a more flexible approach and it may surprise some to note that flexible working came out higher in motivational studies on employees over remuneration. Flexibility may be challenging to facilitate, but allowing for even small degrees of flexibility can really make a significant difference to employee loyalty and commitment.
Employee Voice – People need to be heard but are not always given the opportunity. And even if given the opportunity, people don’t always listen. Conduct focus groups, encouraging staff to participate and contribute to a variety of topics that give them some freedom to make decisions about their own working lives, environment, rewards, social activities etc. Speaking in groups isn’t for everyone so consider other ways of achieving this through questionnaires and one-to-one conversations.
Jobs with clarity and purpose – This one may seem obvious but employees who don’t have a well defined and structured job won’t understand their purpose within the organisation. In turn, this leads to a lack of understanding of the bigger picture and a lack of belonging. Job descriptions should be updated regularly as roles shift and change. Equally, methods of working and expectations should be clearly defined so that expectations are well managed.
Company Culture & Values –Defining your company values can assist with improving your company’s culture. Think about what your company really stands for at its core and not just what looks good on your marketing material. Having too many values makes it more challenging to instill into your company. A maximum of 3 values is ideal, together with a description of what each value means for your company. Encourage staff participation in defining your values as this creates a sense of inclusion and provides buy-in to the process. Then consider how to embed your values into recruitment, company and staff objectives, staff reviews and evolving your work environment for the better.
Growth & Development – How do you train and develop your staff? Having a greater understanding of learning and thinking styles is important to consider because people learn and think in different ways. Invest time in coaching and mentoring instead of just sticking people on generic courses, which do have their place but may not always be the best solution. Understanding the value of cultivating a growth mindset into your company is also worthwhile considering.
Leadership – Strong leadership is essential in any organisation. Managers don’t always have the right skills to effectively ‘nurture’ or ‘develop’ their staff. We often see managers who are good at the ‘operator’ elements of their job but not necessarily being supported or provided training to effectively manage people. Teaching our leaders how to be future-focused, to motivate, inspire, monitor, nurture, mentor and coach is key. People don’t automatically know how to manage others. Being poorly managed and not feeling connected to a manager is a key reason why people leave jobs. Invest time in your managers!
Fun & Positivity – Getting the job done is necessary. But having a bit of fun along the way is also important. What fun things can you do with your staff? Maybe plan an Easter Egg hunt or taking part in a charitable event like Red Nose Day, Christmas Jumper day, wear a Football Shirt day etc. Sometimes a bit of fun can take the edge off and breaks up the stresses of the day.
Rewards & Recognition – This isn’t just about money - it’s about developing a culture of recognition and celebrating achievement which is essential because ultimately, everyone needs to feel appreciated and valued. It’s also about celebrating positive behaviours and attitudes as well as work-related tasks. By understanding what ‘good’ looks like, you can encourage that in others by rewarding those that do. Get staff involved in thinking about rewards, perks and recognition ideas. There’s no point offering gym membership if no one wants to use the gym! Rewarding people with things that are important to them individually means more than generic rewards. And don’t forget the value of saying ‘Thank you’ and ‘well done’.
There’s no overnight quick fix to employee engagement. It takes time, investment, energy and open-mindedness. We are not quite at the end of the journey with our staff and perhaps we will always be a work in progress because the work environment constantly evolves and life never stands still.
If you’re going to change your people strategy, do it with a permanent change of mindset and commitment for a different vision of the future. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, so do something different and maybe you’ll get something unexpected back!
Are you interested in sharing your knowledge with our candidates and increasing your direct hire potential? If keeping your recruitment costs down is of importance to you, please contact our Managing Director Alice Cadfan-Lewis 020 3900 0401/ firstname.lastname@example.org