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Why I’m putting my team’s future in their hands

26 Apr 2018 By Katie Streeter Hurle

Real employee engagement comes from giving staff control over their own development and involving them in the business, explains Katie Streeter Hurle

Too often there are cases within SMEs where employee engagement falls to the bottom of the priority list, as the benefits are sometimes difficult to quantify. Some organisations choose to view it as a marketing exercise or a chance to build their employer brand, but little thought is given to how it can become an integral part of business strategy. 

Good employee engagement can help to create a positive workplace environment, where employees feel valued and a key part of the company. This in turn can lead to improved productivity, with businesses with high levels of engagement reporting up to 22 per cent higher productivity. Giving employees responsibility and a choice to engage with initiatives in the company can be difficult to establish, but ultimately is extremely valuable. This is especially true for SMEs, where resource can be limited and people truly are their most important asset. 

At Shopper Media Group (SMG), we have a strong focus on personal development and are committed to investing in learning. This year, we have launched a scheme enabling each employee access to a personal training fund. The learning is entirely self-selected, allowing employees to choose from training courses ranging from presenting skills to mindfulness and resilience. We have simply armed everyone with some recommended training courses that other colleagues have been on, but the choice is down to the individual, based on an area they are keen to grow in.

Another scheme in place at SMG that helps to put the power back into our employees’ hands is a project called B3, which has three core strands: build yourself, build the team, build the business. This allows employees to have exposure to a much greater variety of important work that shapes the direction of our group of companies and the way they are run.

Every employee is involved in a B3 project, which is designed to give them a chance to contribute towards the decisions we make. These projects help our employees get involved with anything from organising and running our company away days, to helping with our recruitment process, creating the company’s communication strategy and running our social media channels. There’s a lot for everyone to get stuck into and this creates a real sense of collaboration among teams.

Involving our employees in the development of their experience and engagement is – and will remain – at the top of the SMG agenda. We have big plans for our future and are working with everyone in our group to progress our people plan in a host of areas.

We recently launched our first charity partnership with the Trussell Trust in response to feedback from employees expressing a desire to give back more to the communities around us. We’re also helping to support employee health and happiness by hosting wellbeing weeks, as well as speaking more transparently about our company reward philosophy, including publishing our current salary bands to everyone. 

Katie Streeter Hurle is partnership and campaign director at Shopper Media Group

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