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New research carried out by business energy price comparison specialists, Love Energy Savings, has revealed that more than 40% of people in the UK don’t believe that their employer does enough to engage them in the workplace.

This study mirrors a 2015 report , published by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), which discovered that 32% of people wanted to find a new job. 26% attributed this to a lack of opportunities, whilst 17% said it was because they wanted more appreciation from their managers.

All of these statistics highlight the importance of employee engagement, particularly at a time when many SMEs are finding it hard to attract and retain talent. To help small businesses get started, Love Energy Savings spoke to a host of industry experts to garner some tips on how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can improve employee engagement without breaking the bank.

Communicate openly and honestly

Often overlooked, good communication is key to any relationship, and this is especially true for the employer-employee relationship. Make an effort to include everyone in all company news, whether it’s good or bad, to make your employees feel valued, appreciated and part of the bigger picture.

Jill Miller, Research Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, commented on the vital importance of communication to smaller businesses in particular:

“As the workforce grows, you can no longer rely on informal communication, but need to introduce more formal mechanisms to ensure everyone receives the same message, and no one is left out.

“It’s important the communication is not just downward, but is two-way, with mechanisms in place for employees to feed their views and suggestions upwards.”

Celebrate staff achievements

Recognising your employees for their hard work is one of the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways to give your workplace engagement a boost. From a congratulatory post-it note to winning employee of the month, celebrating the achievements of your staff ensures that they feel truly valued.

Brian Londsale, Director of Smarter Digital Marketing, believes that managing directors going out of their way to recognise staff is key to creating a happy, vibrant working environment:

“Positive affirmations are something I’m very passionate about, only discussing the areas of improvement your workforce needs will shake their confidence. We praise our staff on their merits. We notice our star employees so they don’t feel their hard work goes unnoticed. I think praise is vital for staff retention and avoiding a high turnover.”

Provide benefits that matter

Customers sign up to a brand loyalty scheme because of what they receive in return, whether it’s money off future purchases or collecting points. But more SMEs are realising that providing benefits and incentives for their employees is just as important; it keeps them motivated, productive and happy in the workplace.

Phil Foster, Managing Director of Love Energy Savings, says it’s all about making people feel appreciated:

“While perks and incentives certainly aren’t the be all and end all of employee engagement, it’s important to have some kind of scheme to show your staff how much you value them. To us, it’s about so much more than a nice way to say ‘thank you’; it’s about creating an environment where people feel happy about their jobs. Performance-based perks also give people that added incentive to do their very best for the company.”