24 November 2017 | Deborah Shrewsbury
A survey on employee engagement reveals that 30 per cent of employees find their company too complex and hard to navigate for them to genuinely engage with it - hitting the bottom line of many companies across the globe.
Simpler workplaces, those where employees - or "brand champions" as the survey dubs them - get their work done easily and feel productive and fulfilled doing so and this engenders more advocacy, innovation and retention, says international brand strategy and marketing company Siegel+Gale.
The consultant, which has run its annual Simplicity At Work survey since 2010, polled a sample of 14,000 people from nine different nations.
It urges businesses aiming to attract and retain millennial employees to take a hard look at workplace culture and to simplify their strategies to engender greater trust among staff to "learn new things" and "go the extra mile" to boost productivity.
To do this they must "communicate clearly from the top about their purpose, values and business goals" and convey how employees' roles affect relationships with clients to drive business results.
It says 'simple' workplaces would see this translate into 95 per cent of employees being more likely to trust the company's leadership; 54 per cent would find it easier to innovate; 65 per cent would be more likely to recommend someone to work at the company; and 84 per cent would stay in their job longer.
What the survey classes as "complex workplaces" are typically more than 50 years old, have more established, inflexible processes and "a reliance on historical thinking and the existence of legacy infrastructure".
Such companies often tend to be those with more than 1,000 employees, serving more than one audience. Brands serving both B2B and B2C customers are often seen as 'complex' by employees and the study advises businesses to bring more clarity to their approach to become adept at meeting the diverse needs of consumer and enterprise customers.
The larger the organisation becomes, says the survey, the greater the chance of inconsistency, misalignment and overburdening of the workforce.
Smaller, more agile businesses with fewer layers of management can streamline approval processes, provide more transparency into business objectives and foster more communication with supervisors and senior management.
Management, it adds, should infuse the brand's purpose in external/internal communications and brand rituals. While a company's size, age or services offered are unlikely to change, reducing complexity at work is possible by making it easier and more rewarding for employees to do their jobs.
Clear, open communication will tie employees' roles to business goals. And this approach must be broadcast clearly from the top, it concludes.
Philip Davies, EMEA president of Siegel+Gale, said: "Our new study shows organisations that don't prioritise employee engagement risk losing talent, reducing overall team productivity and ultimately, negatively affecting business results. So, what makes employee engagement so difficult to realise?
"Our research shows that complexity is the biggest inhibitor. If a company invests in simplifying their workplace, they will benefit from greater trust, advocacy, innovation and retention among employee. At simple organisations, employees are more likely to become brand champions because they understand and are committed to what their company stands for. Building company culture through simple experiences at work is critical. Simplicity is a topic moving rapidly up the boardroom agenda - the stakes are too high to overlook this opportunity."
Download the full report here.