With only 15% of employees engaged worldwide, many business leaders react in one of three ways. Some deny the trend by relying on survey results to “prove” that disengagement does not exist in their organization. Others continue to throw time, money, and effort into creating programs that they hope will stick. Meanwhile, a modest few acquiesce into acceptance, willing to wait until the workforce changes as hundreds of billions in revenue are lost as productivity declines.
But here’s the scary truth: Global employee engagement hasn’t budged for at least 15 years – and it’s not signaling a rebound anytime soon.
Is it possible that business leaders are missing an essential piece of the employee engagement puzzle? For Welcome Break, one of the United Kingdom’s leading providers of food, hotel, and restroom services to highway travelers, it was a matter of bringing data-driven respect to the workplace.
Welcome Break shatters employee disengagement with greater respect
Since 1959, Welcome Break – open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – has served more than 85 million motorway customers each year across 27 sites in the United Kingdom. Boasting a range of 14 well-known storefront brands, from Starbucks and Burger King to Ramada hotels and Harry Ramsden’s world-famous fish and chips, the service operator is powered by a team of 5,000 employees that may work as a barista one day and a fish fryer the next. However, such job complexity, amid rapid business growth, became fertile ground for high employee turnover and siloed thinking.
By adopting and integrating cloud-based HR solutions and a social collaboration platform into its business systems and processes, Welcome Break began to rethink how it can better support employees from an HR perspective. By using this platform, the company implemented a recognition program designed to develop a sense of respect and dignity across the workforce. Programs range from the simple and thoughtful to the company-wide and complex.
According to Karl Jolly, Welcome Break’s director of people, “it can be something as simple as telling an employee ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘You did a great job today. Thank you very much!’ We also drive recognition programs twice a year in peak periods throughout the business.”
By leveraging information captured in its HR systems and social collaboration platform, Welcome Break has seen 15% higher talent retention and a dramatic increase in employee satisfaction. Such improvements have contributed to substantial business growth driven by great success, great results, and great sales.
“I think the big changes we’ve realized in using our technology investments have allowed HR management to go to our leaders on a daily basis and create a business that is much more human than ever before,” recognized Jolly.
Employee engagement requires a “respect first” mentality
Respect is the foundation of everything good that happens in a team. It’s the glue that helps teammates achieve a championship-winning game. It’s the fuel that leads to some of the greatest world-changing innovations. It’s the oil that keeps organizations running smoothly – no matter who is on vacation, out sick, or on parental leave.
When a culture lacks mutual respect, it is nearly impossible to unite as a team. Instead, everyone is defensive and unnecessarily attached to existing ways of doing things. Yet, respect is not a given – one must earn it to get it, but it’s even harder to maintain it.
Granted, keeping employees engaged isn’t always simple. But as proven by Welcome Break, respect can be a foundational puzzle piece that makes all of the other pieces fit properly.