Organisations must not lose sight of the fact that people are their most valuable asset. Therefore, it is of great benefit to engage an external expert to give a different perspective and a fresh pair of eyes on the human element of your business. This will enable bid responses to be robust when commenting on employee engagement, people development and team culture and will demonstrate that your focus is on constantly improving your business through its people.

Recognising the importance of Employee Engagement for your business
A business must have a good foundation in place regarding people processes by having a firm grasp on the numbers, conducting consistent appraisals, undertaking regular one-to-ones and knowing how to handle difficult conversations. With the correct tools to optimise performance, we can build and achieve great results. On the transactional side, this includes looking at the skill set – business strategy, planning, margins, the unique selling point – the nuts and bolts of the business. On the transformational side, the greatest potential lies in analysing the mindset – what holds people back and what will help them unlock their full potential for the business and themselves?

How engaged are people at work? A recent Gallup survey is enlightening. Only one in ten (11%) feel engaged at work and one in five (21%) are actively disengaged. This is not good for the individual or for the business and will lead to disruption and high sickness/absentee rates. Only around one in ten (11%) are actively engaged. Those actively engaged understand the vision of the business and are involved, enthusiastic and committed to moving it forward. This is important as employee engagement is crucial to business performance and organisational health. Clients will pick bidders who can demonstrate that they have a committed workforce.

Adapting your business to meet the needs of the changing work environment
Due to the pandemic, we have seen an increase in remote working and it seems likely that this will be more commonplace going forward. It can make it more difficult to get a read on people as we miss out on socialising, the nuances, the water cooler conversations and the non-verbal clues.

It is important that employees and management are on the same page. If an employee is asked what is expected from them in their job and a manager is asked the same question regarding the employee, there is often only a 30% match in their answers. If there is a lack of understanding as to what the job is about, how can it be performed well? This can only get worse when managers and employees are not physically together so a fresh approach is necessary. It is crucial to upskill leadership and management skills now to ensure that employees receive the necessary feedback and employers can get the best from their people. Reassurance for clients on this will be required in the bidding process.

Are employee satisfaction surveys of use? Traditionally, companies would roll out a satisfaction survey once a year, there would be a flurry of activity post survey, a steering group set up to act on some points with not much done until the next year’s survey rolled round. In contrast, pulse surveys are more of a check-in. They are performed at a minimum, quarterly and are typically only 5-15 questions, not time-consuming and easy to answer.

Pulse surveys are a great tool for reading the room and enable employees to provide confidential feedback. They tend to quickly reveal the low hanging fruit that can be picked and acted upon. However, the information provided must be acted upon or the danger is that employees will disengage further. Therefore, a business needs to have the resource in place to deal with the responses. Best practice would be for a manager to have this as part of their toolkit, being able to send out a pulse survey to get feedback on their performance as a manager in order to improve.

Relating this to bids and tenders, pulse surveys would demonstrate engagement with employees and that you, as an employer, are listening and taking on board their points and concerns. It would be great to demonstrate to a client that employee satisfaction rates are going up over time. Pulse surveys would be a good way of providing tangible evidence of increased employee engagement and people development in promoting a team culture.

Developing people to strengthen your business offering
Generally, people are changing jobs more frequently. The typical millennial spends around eighteen months in a job. Therefore, if not happy and motivated, they will quickly move on. This is problematic for bids and tenders as it is key to demonstrate that workforce turnover is low, which is becoming increasingly more difficult. Alternatively, it would be useful to evidence that people are leaving for the right reasons such as career development and that a steady stream of good people who feel engaged with the business is being maintained. It is even better to retain people and see a good return on the training and investment put in, particularly when much of the required training happens in the first year. As Richard Branson famously stated: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Motivating staff to help them reach their goals
So, how do you attract, retain, and motivate staff? Along with a business plan, it is important to have a people plan – invest, be a people builder, instead of management having a ‘boss’ mentality, be a coach, be there to support staff and help them reach their goals. With this view, it is easier to work out what will motivate staff and will encourage management to show personal interest, have one-to-ones, and ascertain how to get the best from employees. Great leaders want to create leaders of the future who will surpass them, rather than taking a hierarchical, carrot and stick approach.

Fostering a culture of open and honest communication
Being clever about how managers communicate with employees is vital. People do not think or learn in the same ways, so if we can tap into what makes people tick or what will frustrate them and avoid those triggers, we can create trust. This will encourage employees to have a voice, be heard, make suggestions, become part of the process – better engaged – which is to the benefit of the business. When an employee makes a suggestion and it is followed, they become invested in the outcome and in turn accountable. Building teams where people feel secure enough to speak up will bring good results and in respect of bidding, provide a competitive edge.

Understanding the role of external specialists
Bringing in an external specialist can provide fresh perspective. Going for a bid, we can identify what needs to be improved, amplified, or stopped in the people process, specific to that bid, perhaps using a system such as DiSC behavioural profiling with measurable outcomes. Having teams go through a learning programme to better understand their strengths and weaknesses can assist a business when bidding, as it demonstrates self-awareness within the organisation and points to a desire to better help clients and service users.

When employee engagement, people development and team culture become the focus, it is possible to have more self-led teams, meaning less management time will be spent dealing with issues such as staff disputes, and absences and more attention can be placed on how to develop the business and drive it forward. Staff who feel invested will be committed leading to better staff retention, in turn leading to better customer service, which is exactly what clients are looking for when they tender an opportunity.

With thanks to Yvonne Webb, ActionCOACH