By Max Clarke

An engaged workforce strengthens a business, can dramatically increase productivity, and could increase an organisation's ability to weather difficult economic conditions.

Motivating and engaging your workforce is the common sense approach to developing a successful and efficient business,” said Adrian Wakeling, guidance report editor at employment relations organisation, Acas. “In reality it could be the make or break difference to surviving when times are tough."

As a result, Acas, has published a new guide to show employers how they can strengthen their business by engaging with their employees.

“Giving employees a voice,” continues Wakeling, “does not always guarantee an easy ride but if are having regular conversations and listening to your team then you are much likely to be able to sort out problems quickly and get on with running the business.”

The guide, entitled People Factor includes firsthand experiences of businesses who took part in Acas’ Innovative Workplaces’ project, where Acas advisers helped to improve productivity by developing effective leadership and genuine employee involvement.

Following are 5 'top tips' compiled by Acas on how to engage your employees for business success.

1. Create a vision:
- Start with a sheet of A4 — write down the purpose of your organisation, where you want to be in the future and the principles that matter most to you
- Create a clear line of sight between the work of the individual employee and the aims of the business
- Stand up for equality, fairness and an organisational culture that creates an open, inclusive atmosphere at work

2. Understand what motivates your staff:
- Employee trust in management,
- Satisfaction in the job itself,
- Fair rate of pay,
- Safe working environment,
- Sense of achievement
- Being treated with respect.

3. Tackle the factors that limit engagement:
- Job insecurity
- Repetitive work
- High stress levels
- Unfairness
- Bullying.

4. Develop two-way communication:
- Use newsletters, emails, team meetings and performance reviews to re-enforce your organisational narrative
- Brief line managers to give the local context to bigger organisational decisions
- Listen to your employees feedback and ideas: they will often know what works best

5. Manage change and be prepared to compromise
- Set short-terms targets and focus on the practical issues that worry employees most
- Set up a working group to thrash out ideas and solutions to problems
- Don’t be afraid to compromise — for example, during the economic downturn some companies agreed with their employees to a pay freeze in exchange for no redundancies.

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