Increasing the salaries of disengaged employees will not boost commitment or keep employees in the business according to new research from The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Coleman Parkes Research. According to the survey 45 per cent of employees believe that UK SMEs need to focus on providing a healthy work life balance if they want to boost employee engagement and successfully compete with their large enterprise counterparts.
Engagement is critical to business continuity and success, especially for smaller businesses, with engaged employees much more likely to ‘go the extra mile’ for the business. But it appears you can’t buy employee engagement. The research ranked remuneration a lowly 10th out of 11 as a reason for resigning, whereas not feeling valued topped the list with 60 per cent naming this as the key factor when considering resignation.
The research showed that, specifically within SMEs, the lack of staff availability, high levels of absenteeism, poor technology, and limited support from team members were the main reasons why 85 per cent of respondents felt they were unable to complete all their daily tasks. This is exacerbated by the fact that employees in SMEs often perform multiple roles, especially at middle management level.
Neil Pickering, industry and customer insight manager at Kronos says the time has come for businesses to create a people-centric culture with an environment of understanding and supporting employees within SMEs. “While they may not have the deep pockets of their enterprise counterparts, SMEs can capitalise on their innate agility, together with less complicated structures and processes, to focus on boosting productivity, innovation, and growth through better employee engagement. A core element of this engagement strategy will involve enabling a better work/life balance that employees crave by capitalising on the improved productivity and cost efficiency that can be achieved through a flexible working environment.”
Balancing the needs of employees with the financial needs of the organisation is critical for employee engagement, however this research showed that staff are under the impression this is not a priority for UK business leaders. 59 per cent percent of respondents think the CEO is only focused on the numbers, rather than the people who deliver the work, whilst only 34 per cent of respondent’s rate employee engagement as strong in their organisation.
SME employees are stretched to the limit but that can be avoided. Nearly three quarters (72 per cent of respondent cited loss of productivity caused by manual systems, and only 35 per cent of employees rate their productivity as strong, but it only takes a small change to make a radical improvement. Organisations must focus on implementing the right technology to make working life easier and employees agree, with one in six respondents claiming that better technology would enhance workforce management and boost productivity. 77 per cent of HR and business managers of SMEs cite outdated systems and technology as their biggest workforce management challenge.
Joyce Maroney, director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos says “SMEs should possess a real competitive advantage when it comes to employee engagement and should focus on competing directly with larger organisations on these terms. This research shows that the prospect that SMEs often promote, of providing a healthy work-life balance and a flexible working environment, holds a strong appeal for employees. If these are actioned properly, employee commitment to the organisation will increase, improving retention rates and increasing business efficiency. For SMEs, the impact of employees ‘going the extra mile’ will be much more impactful pound for pound against their larger counterparts and can be achieved through better communication and collaboration.”