By Paul Devoy, Head of Investors in People

Employee engagement is about building a strong relationship between your organisation and your people – inspiring, challenging and supporting employees at all levels so they can deliver what the business needs now and in the future. It is a fundamental part of putting people at the heart of a business, and is important to help a business grow.

Increasing staff engagement can be achieved in a number of ways, but to get where you want to be, you first need to assess where you are. When it comes to developing people, identifying their needs is essential. External assessments and tools, such as the Investors in People (IIP) Framework, are a great way to understand what the staff think about the organisation, assess what skills or training your people need, and highlight areas in which your business can develop.

As Head of Investors in People, I see organisations that are engaging their staff well, and those that could improve. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to engagement, the Engaging for Success report states that having organisational integrity, an employee voice, engaging managers and a strong strategic narrative from visible leaders can all help with employee engagement.

Here are five simple tips for increasing engagement through developing your people, that we know work:

1. Encourage leadership at all levels
Empower all individuals – not necessarily just managers – to offer ideas and take on lead roles in helping your organisation implement innovative approaches. Encourage participation in staff forums and let your people become a part of the decision-making process. IIP accredited St. Brigid’s Primary and Nursery School, Londonderry, sees the expansion of people’s roles as a demonstration of their ability to add value to the school.

2. Promote multiskilling, job rotation and cross training
Training doesn’t have to be costly; cross-training within the wider organisation can give your people a varied perspective and stimulate interest in other departments or areas, while giving them increased confidence and context for their work.

3. Give your employees control
It’s the first step to creating entrepreneurial characteristics in people. An engaged workforce is an empowered workforce, and one which is able to participate in decision making, and take responsibility for organisational success. By keeping staff engaged, informed and giving them a voice, they’ll thrive.

Dorothy Christie, Employee Engagement Project Manager at IIP Award-winning Glasgow Housing Association, said “our staff members genuinely feel empowered and asserted that they felt trusted by management and that gave them confidence. Staff will make decisions, feel empowered and do the right thing for the customer.”

4. Free people from business bureaucracy
Without realising, businesses can often ‘sleepwalk’ into inefficient habits. Take a step back to see how your organisation can simplify paperwork, streamline procedures and keep meetings short and to a minimum. This will encourage productivity and help your people get more out of their day.

5. Give individuals more autonomy in their working day
Get them out of the routine and on the right track to making decisions that benefit the organisation. IIP research has shown that over a third (34%) of workers state the quality they most admire in their bosses is that they trust them to do the job.

In a competitive marketplace, understanding how to inspire and empower your people to continually improve your business has never been more important, not only for keeping staff happy, but also to provide benefits to your business’ bottom line. Investors in People helps businesses realise the potential of their people. Find out more at www.investorsinpeople.co.uk.