Posted: 17 October 2017
In a recent post, we talked about how creating “a vision of perfection” based on consumer demand can help a business delight its customers, which is the quintessence of achieving and maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage.
In the world of business, however, “a vision of perfection” means not only delighted customers but also happy employees. Although employee happiness, engagement and empowerment are not synonymous, the concepts behind these three terms are strongly related to each other.
In a nutshell, only an engaged employee feels happy at work. When asked about employee happiness, engagement, and empowerment, Leon Edwards said: “I want all of our employees to be engaged, to feel valued. I want them to come to work with a smile on their face”.
If you also agree with this statement, it’s essential to know that employee engagement and empowerment go beyond their personal happiness. According to experts, they can affect every single aspect of your business, irrespective of the industry sector in which it operates.
How can retailers and brands engage and empower their employees in today’s increasingly diverse workplaces, which have become so common in the UK?
No one can deny it: managing diversity in the workplace comes with its own set of challenges. From dealing with language, cultural, and perceptual barriers to developing and implementing a customised strategy that can help maximise the positive effects of diversity in the workplace, diversity advocates face many problems that often test their abilities.
On the upside, a diverse workplace encompassing people of different races, ethnicities, educations, cultural backgrounds, personalities, and ages can contribute to a sustainable competitive advantage for any business.
Why? Simply because a diverse workforce brings together a variety of individual talents, skills, and life experiences under the same roof. When properly leveraged, a diverse workforce can become an inexhaustible source of ideas, which allows you to come up with ingenious solutions that can better meet ever-changing demands and expectations in both local and global markets. This can help you achieve your goals in every area of your business.
But for the best results, your organisation needs to embrace the diversity that has been offered to it, and engage and empower all of its employees.
Instead of opting for a formal “culture” program, making your employees feel appreciated, encouraging them to voice their opinions, giving them the autonomy and providing all the tools and solutions they need in order to grow their capabilities and succeed, and inspiring them to perform to the best of their abilities are just some of the things you can do to plant the seeds of employee engagement, empowerment, and retention.
In addition to the fact that you’ll be able to shift your employees’ behaviour in a natural, unobtrusive way, they’ll feel more valued, more satisfied, and more enthusiastic about their work.
As a result, they will:
But more important than all these is to embark your organisation on a cultural revolution with a new purpose: a more humanised approach.
Giving your business a “face” and a “heart” will breed not only employee engagement, empowerment, and happiness but also invaluable qualities like empathy, honesty and openness.
And this is what most people want when they approach a business. They want us to care about their problems, time, and money. And here, we’re not referring to the concept, “people first, profits second”, but more to a concept that revolves around the idea that “profits will come as a direct result of putting customers first”.
An excellent example of employee engagement and empowerment comes from Toyota, which has an average employee satisfaction rate of 74 percent. As part of the Toyota Way in Human Resources Management, the company has encouraged its employees to be more creative and utilise their knowledge, skills, and experience to the maximum extent possible. Also, the company has handed over the responsibility of identifying and solving production problems to the shop-floor workers. Any employee who spots a problem can halt the production process at any time.
Another great industry example is the zero-hours contracts, offered by many companies across Britain. Whilst zero-hours contracts are still subject to a contentious debate, researchers have found that the workers on these contracts are “just as satisfied with their job” and feel as valued as any other UK employee.
Although zero-hours contracts don’t guarantee work, they give workers more control over their lives, allowing them to decide on the amount of hours they want to work each week and giving them the freedom to take up other roles, tasks, or hobbies. Currently, more than 900,000 people in the UK rely on zero-hours contracts, according to recent reports.
But it’s worth noting that an organisation can go beyond the basic concept of zero-hours contracts. At DisplayMode, for example, we’ve given some careful consideration to what the workers employed on these contracts expect from us.
Unsurprisingly, we’ve reached the conclusion that all employees want the same thing: an inclusive and supportive work environment.
Therefore, we’ve started to create a more inclusive environment by offering all zero-hour employees the opportunity to have full-time contracts. There was a 100% uptake which allowed us to remove the divide between staff, and offer training and promotion opportunities to all of our employees, based on their merit and attitude rather than employment status.
Thanks to the changes we implemented, the employees who were working on zero-hours contracts no longer felt like “second-class citizens” in the workplace. This has also allowed us to cultivate a more collaborative environment in which all employees feel valued, safe, and more comfortable working on projects together.
What’s more, as Simon Sinek said, making employees feel safe, building trust with them, and creating an inclusive, supportive work environment can unlock their true potential and motivate them to give their best.
Although some of our costs have gone up, nothing can compare to the satisfaction of having a team of engaged and happy employees, who are willing to do everything they can to make our customers happy.
Since employee engagement and empowerment are influenced by every decision we make, each interaction we have with our teams, and the way we lead our companies, engaging and empowering our staff isn’t a one-time event but rather a laborious, ongoing process. However, no one can deny the benefits, which are self-evident. What’s more, by creating a work environment where each employee feels valued and knows that he or she can make a significant and lasting difference is what can help you take your business from mediocrity to excellence and even perfection.
Note about image choice:
I have been looking to use the main header image of the LEON Restaurant for the last three months for two reasons. First, our own Leon Edwards is the MD and we recently had discussions around brand consistency (Our Leon, the MD, is a marketing guru). In this image we can see the LEON logo in 5 versions - not for us to comment on logo usage, other than to point out an interesting use of the corporate identify. Now for the real reason, I can get away with using this picture because LEON Restaurants have a parent friendly recruitment policy which means their HR story is a perfect people fit with our own story.
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