Research shows that an engaged workforce contributes greatly to business success. That’s why franchises should put their people first, says Annabel Jones, HR director at ADP UK
The importance of employee engagement should not be underestimated. When employees feel enthusiastic and committed, they are more likely to be productive at work. In fact, research has shown that highly engaged employees are a key contributor to greater business success, generating 26% higher revenue per employee. Organisations across the globe are striving to ensure their employees are as happy, healthy and productive as possible. Encouragingly, a recent study by ADP found that over half of UK employees are feeling highly engaged in their organisations.
So, how exactly can franchises create a company culture that promotes employee engagement?
Striking a balance
The ADP study also found that, aside from pay, obtaining a good work-life balance is the top motivating factor for employees. However, research from EY shows that nearly half of managers across the globe are working more than 40 hours per week, with four in ten saying their hours have increased over the past five years. This could contribute to well-being issues among staff, leaving them feeling discontented and underappreciated at work. In such instances, employees often become less productive and may even look to work elsewhere.
In an effort to achieve a balanced working life, 29% of employees say they would like to work where and when they want, while 37% are hoping to obtain a totally flexible working pattern. In an increasingly mobile world of work, we can only expect the popularity of flexible working to increase, accelerated by the need for businesses and teams to be connected from anywhere at any time. In the franchise industry, this is an increasing trend, particularly for international franchises. For example, franchise owners and employees in different countries may be expected to communicate with one another on a regular basis, making the ability to work flexibly and across differing time zones even more important.
Reward and incentivise
While pay and benefits are a key incentive for employees, franchisees should consider the compensation preferences of their workforce. Interestingly, a quarter of UK workers say they would like to receive benefits that look after their long-term financial welfare. While auto-enrolment in a pension is being introduced to UK businesses, franchises need to ensure they are prepared to comply with the changes and understand how they can best contribute to this critical aspect of employees’ long-term financial security.
Franchises could also look beyond purely financial benefit schemes to further support engagement. For example, whilst childcare vouchers may appeal to some employees, car allowances may be an attractive option for those who travel long distances to work. Franchisors can play an important role in educating franchisees about tailoring their benefit schemes to align with employee needs and the different options available. By doing so, franchisees can help their workers feel more valued and consequently more engaged in their roles.
Whilst healthy amounts of pressure can be dynamic and stimulate productivity, too much stress is likely to have the reverse effect. Currently, a worrying 39% of UK employees feel that they experience stress fairly or very often. When employees constantly experience such high levels of stress, this can become counterproductive, harming their overall performance and commitment to the business.
In an increasingly demanding world of work where many employees find themselves working beyond the traditional nine to five, mitigating workplace stress becomes an ever more important factor. However, it is concerning that 21% of the European workforce currently feels that their employer does not help them manage stress at all. Franchises need to be aware of the situation and work to reverse this trend by proactively monitoring stress amongst employees and offering them support should workloads become too heavy.
Regular check-ins with staff can be made part of the franchise culture, as well as a clear organisational structure that enables fair and balanced delegation of tasks among colleagues. These types of solutions are easy to implement and enable businesses to share responsibility and mitigate stress more efficiently. In addition, such tactics can strengthen the relationships between employees and their senior peers as they will know that the support they need is always there.
Employee engagement really is the backbone of a happy, productive and profitable workforce. That’s why the importance of creating a workplace that is full of enthusiastic and committed employees cannot be taken for granted.
Whilst franchisors can instil plans and initiatives to cement employee engagement into the company culture, franchisees need to take the lead in implementing these strategies into the wider business. When both the franchisor and franchisee do their part in building and sustaining employee engagement, they can maximise their chances of growing a happier and more engaged workforce, enabling them to benefit from their greatest asset: their people.