Coffee or employee engagement?
Ant Monger discusses why organisations should prioritise investment in employee engagement.
I recently met with a prospective client who employs around 3,000 people in the UK. They completely understood how engaged employees provide better service and as a result, customers are happy and keep coming back. Of particular interest was how to implement social recognition and communication to really appeal to key human needs. Feeling valued and recognised is a key driver of employee engagement.
Great! But the problem was, the HR director was struggling to prove the business case to the board. There was no precedent for having an engagement programme for employees. So, how could we prove, for example, that a £100k programme would produce a tangible outcome?
The honest truth is we can’t. If we could inextricably prove the ROI on every pound before we spent it, we wouldn’t need business sense; we’d just all pour money into the money-making machine. But there is a vast amount of research out there that proves that in the majority of cases, organisations with engaged employees perform better. Yet still, sometimes there are other perceived priorities for investment in any business.
A business case for engaging employees?
This got me thinking… £100k is a lot of money even if we wholeheartedly believe the science behind healthier, happier workers and business performance. What does £100k look like in other areas of the business?
I needed to think about this and so made a cup of coffee… aha! Coffee (or tea)! Depending on which piece of research you read, the average number of cups of coffee drunk by the average worker is around three to five cups per day. Let’s take the middle ground (no pun intended) and say we’ll work with four per day.
Depending on which type of machine you use or if you bulk buy instant coffee or teabags, the average cost per cuppa is around 10p. If you extrapolate that, you’re looking at around £8 per employee per month. So for 3,000 employees, that’s a cost of … £288,000 per year!
Is tea and coffee discussed at board level? Is its impact measured? Is it questioned? Is there a ‘Head of Hot Beverages’!? So is the answer simply to stop providing free tea and coffee…no?
We couldn’t do that?
There would be uproar!
Oh, uproar…you mean disengagement??
What does this mean? Do you have to choose between free coffee and employee engagement programmes? No not really. We all know who would win that argument, much like the famous McCain – ‘Daddy or Chips’ Advert. But on a serious note, why is it STILL so hard to prove and push through business cases for engagement when nobody blinks an eyelid at tea and coffee, which can be three times more expensive and has no measurable impact on business performance? In fact, the research tells us that it’s ‘costing your business’ in wasted time… but we all know better in reality, don’t we?
So #bebrave, do what we all know is right and invest in employee engagement. Making great days at work for your employees will have a positive impact on your customers and key business objectives.