The statistics are clear. Companies that create exceptional experiences for employees:
- are 17% more productive
- are 21% more profitable than companies with poor engagement
- and see 24% less staff turnover.
This last point is particularly important at the moment as we see the headlines about the difficulties companies are facing with recruitment.
So how do you create the employee experiences that mean they will want to stay? And how can the finance function be a driving force?
It’s something I discussed with Russell Dalgleish, advisor to the Scottish Government and Board of Trade, in a 30-minute talk, How Better Employee Experiences Lead to Better Business Outcomes.
Here are four takeaways I had from our conversation.
Responsibility and Employee Engagement
The key elements of employee engagement are typically renumeration, recognition and responsibility.
As Russell pointed out, responsibility has been a key element in the past 18 months. Employees have had to work from home and self-manage. They’ve proved themselves more than capable of doing this.
As we start to return to the office, some employees may feel this element of responsibility is being removed from them. Lower engagement is the result.
Remember too that research shows the best performing companies have a thriving work environment based on agility and innovation. What’s more , the finance function can be central to fostering this environment. Tools that automate finance processes such as expense reports and invoice reconciliation eliminate inefficient, manual tasks. As a result, employees are freed up to work on tasks with greater responsibility that add greater value to the business.
Communication and Employee Engagement
We both agreed that companies who communicate effectively and explain their actions will find it much easier to bring employees with them than the companies that don’t.
As we start to return to the office, clear frameworks and good communication are essential. Here at SAP Concur we’ve implemented a Pledge to Flex policy that sets out our thinking around remote and hybrid working so employees understand our approach.
Good communication is also about the day-to-day things. For the finance team, it’s frustrating to chase approvals or request further information on expense claims. And when the rest of the business only hears from the finance team when something’s wrong, the team gets an unfair reputation. With automation, finance processes move more smoothly so the finance team can have more positive relationships with the rest of the business.
Technology and Employee Engagement
Quite simply, working from home couldn’t have been so successful 30 years ago.
Technology is the reason. Indeed, we’ve seen that embracing technology has often made us more productive, not less. This despite working apart from our colleagues for so long.
For the finance team, automation has proved integral to keeping processes moving in a remote environment. It’s also boosted productivity in the wider workforce. When invoices and expenses get into the system effortlessly, employees are less frustrated and more engaged.
Career Development and Employee Engagement
There is understandable concern about a divide opening up between employees who continue to work from home and employees who return to the office. Will ‘visible’ employees see better career progression?
At the most basic level, it’s essential to keep your best-performing team members on your radar, no matter where they’re based.
Remember too that career development is about upskilling. Take the finance team as an example. When employees don’t have to rekey invoices and manual tasks they have more time to spend on strategic activities such as vendor negotiations, spend negotiations, and other value-adding tasks.
The Value of Employee Engagement
But, as we both agreed, when you get it right, you have productive and value-added employees all moving towards the same goal. And the engagement is reflected in your business’s bottom line.
To listen to my discussion with Russell in full, watch How Better Employee Experiences Lead to Better Business Outcomes.