Employers have an opportunity to improve engagement by implementing a continuous improvement process. It's a chance to enhance the employee experience through feedback. This continuous loop of feedback (and ultimately improvement) allows leaders and employees to co-create a mutually beneficial workplace. An added perk is that this cycle can also positively impact procedures, processes, and products, whether through small changes or significant breakthroughs.
An engaged workforce will support your business goals. Constant communication, growth, and the ability to adapt leads to success. Employees know their jobs best and can offer valuable feedback.
Other benefits of implementing on-going improvement efforts include:
· Higher engagement and retention
· Increased productivity and efficiency
· Improved customer experience
· Reduced costs and less waste
· Streamlined procedures and processes
4 Steps to Continuous Improvement.
1. Seek feedback
The goal is to gain an understanding of the employee experience and to include them in the ideation process for key business decisions. What have they experienced? What is important to them? How can you set them up for success? Depending on the size of your company, you can achieve this with surveys, focus groups, or 1-1 interviews.
2. Define what's working and what's not
· What pain points came up with employees?
· Where are the opportunities for improvement?
· What aspects of the job, culture, and employee experience are successful?
· Are there holes in the communication channels?
· What are your employees’ priorities?
Once you have the data, you can organize the feedback into lists of opportunities and successes.
Sometimes the feedback can be overwhelming; employers don't respond because they aren't sure where to start. But one pillar of continuous improvement is that things will never be perfect - it’s the forward momentum that counts.
What are the priorities? Would you rather go after small, quick wins or big impact initiatives? It's best to break down larger projects into smaller, measurable pieces to reduce overwhelm and keep everyone on the right track. Celebrate the small wins to keep your team motivated as you move towards more significant targets.
4. Involve your team in the solution
Admit to your team that you don’t have all the answers and respect their opinions and suggestions. This step is key to co-creating a culture of continuous growth and improvement.
As a leader, you are focused on the big-picture and may not see the minor day-to-day details that can significantly impact your business. Your employees are hands-on and can see everyday improvements that will add up over time.
The simple act of asking for input also engages employees in the solution and makes them feel like they are part of the bigger picture.
Part of the continuous improvement cycle is to constantly measure the success of efforts and make any necessary adjustments. Frequent check-ins and open channels of communication will ensure everyone is on the same page and moving forward. Is there an opportunity to gauge progress from the prioritized list through pulse surveys or other success indicators?
While this approach in itself improves employee engagement levels, there are other opportunities to realize significant business improvements through this process. Be specific about what you are trying to improve (profitability, turnover, innovation, productivity, customer satisfaction). What is the best way to measure your success?
Rinse and Repeat.
The cycle of continuous improvement is self-perpetuating. Once you set it up within your organization, keep the ball rolling. It's not a one-and-done initiative but more of a company-wide attitude you want everyone within your organization to adopt. Constantly keeping an eye out for slight improvements will add up over time and ensure you are working towards your big-picture goals.