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Strategies for creating an engaged workforce

Staff engagement is the most critical factor for success in aged care, as it has been shown to improve clinical care outcomes and create financial return, a leading recruitment firm has said.

Recruitment firm Hays recently surveyed 396 employers and 800 jobseekers across Australia and New Zealand to examine what factors influenced staff engagement and to work out practical strategies for organisations to improve.

Creating an engaged workforce was currently the number one issue for businesses across Australia, and the most critical factor to their success, said the firm’s director of public sector Kathy Kostyrko.

“The more engaged your workforce is, the more likely you’ll retain your workers and the more likely they will be productive, creative and innovative,” Ms Kostyrko told Australian Ageing Agenda ahead of her presentation at the Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) Tri-State conference later this month.

Kathy Kostyrko

Kathy Kostyrko

Feeling valued and recognised

The two most important factors for employee engagement were a sense of feeling valued by the organisation and recognition for a job well done. Ms Kostyrko stressed that making staff feel valued was particularly important in aged care, as workers were often putting so much of themselves into the care of residents.

“It’s really important that people feel valued, that they feel their opinions will be heard that they will be acted upon. That there is a collaborative environment, so that when they come to work, they feel like they’re working with friends,” said Ms Kostyrko.

This meant getting to know staff as people, not as just as employees, and taking the time to work out what was important to them, she said.

“Engagement sounds easy, but it’s not, because it takes time and involvement of management to make sure that the needs of their employees are absolutely being looked after,” she said.

Understanding your role in the organisation’s success

Ms Kostyrko stressed that induction and onboarding were critical to getting people engaged from day one.

“There’s usually a lot of turnover in that first 12 months and often it’s because when the person started they may not have had an appropriate induction,” she said.

Among the other key engagement factors for employees was:

  • knowing how success would be measured
  • a clear understanding of how one’s role helped the organisation achieve its objectives
  • clear communication of the organisation’s objectives and strategy.

Ms Kostyrko said the induction process was an appropriate time for these factors to be outlined, but regular communication from senior management as to how the organisation and staff member was tracking were important.

Many larger businesses were starting to move away from annual performance appraisals towards more frequent, casual catch-ups, she said.

Often employees could become disengaged in an annual review when thought they were doing a good job, only to find that their employer thought otherwise.

Money isn’t as important as you might think

In the Hays survey, salary was only ranked 12th in importance in terms of keeping employees engaged.

Recognising that someone had done a good job didn’t always have to be monetary – it could just be making sure other people heard about it, she said.

“It’s seemingly simple things that are overlooked in our everyday dealings with people that can have such a major impact on how those people feel about coming to work.”

The LASA Tri-State Conference 2016 takes place from 21 to 23 February in Albury.

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One Response to Strategies for creating an engaged workforce

  1. Kylie Wise February 13, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    Never miss a chance to roll out the old “money isn’t really important” finding in every workforce survey.

    What tricky way was the question worded to get that answer from someone earning $18/hour?

    Any information provided on these key engagement factors? How do you propose to measure the success of an AIN, the number of showers completed per hour?

    Please stop rolling out these tired old surveys; there’s nothing new or useful in them.

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