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This article was originally written for First Voice, National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses Limited, and published on June 14th 2022.

As a small business owner, you may or may not have come across these terms: employee experience, employer branding, employee engagement, and employer value proposition (EVP). They all relate to the people who are in or are available for work in your business, and the experience that you as an employer give to your employees. 

Your employer branding is the measurement of how you are viewed by existing and potential employees as an employer, and takes into account how employees are treated throughout the course of their time with you. 

Your EVP is the incentive package that you offer your employees in exchange for their time, commitment, skills and knowledge. Employee engagement is the measurement of your employee’s emotional commitment to your business, measured by the positive or negative levels of productivity, interaction and connection with others. High employee engagement is a result of the efforts you put into your employee branding and what you offer as part of your EVP. Low employee engagement is also impacted by these areas.

Why should you take notice of these areas? They are key to creating dedicated and happy employees, and what sets your business apart from your competitors when it comes to hiring and keeping good people.

Successful businesses often have successful people collectively working towards the company goal as an integrated team. A business that has high staff turnover cannot provide great service, will not have a great reputation, and will struggle to grow and adapt to the ever-changing world. Humanising and developing a people-centric work environment will improve your employee experience, employer branding and employee engagement.

Here are some simple things you can do as an employer to develop the potential within your existing team, stop them from walking to your competitors and attract great new talent:

Build your reputation

The reality is that job seekers are no longer content with just getting any job. They are looking at your reputation as an employer, what you offer (remuneration package), and the experience that past and current employees have had.

Glassdoor is a free-to-use platform where existing and ex-employees review their experience at a company, and provides insight regarding the employee experience to job-seekers. To ensure better reviews, start by paying more attention to the employee experience that your people have, while focusing on important employee touchpoints, such as their opportunity for learning and development, your consideration of their wellbeing, and the management and leadership style within the business.

Embrace hybrid and flexible working 

With constant changes in the working landscape instigated by the pandemic, working between the office and home is here to stay. In a recent survey by FlexJobs, 58 per cent of people said they would look for a new job if flexible working was not an option. Offering flexibility to your team will be key in attracting new team members and retaining your great talent.

If you are concerned about the productivity of your teams with hybrid and flexible working, the good news is that productivity is high. A recent survey by Global Workplace Analytics reports productivity being 35-40 per cent higher with remote workers than colleagues in the office. 

Make people feel valued and recognised 

Remote working means that employees can work from any location, so people are not restricted to a location near to home. As a result, employees’ loyalty is challenged.

Back in the office, it seemed easier and more natural to pay compliments and verbalise appreciation for work done in the moment, celebrating milestones and achievements as a team. However, when you are remote those moments are much harder to come by and they get lost since those opportunities do not happen as naturally as they would in the office. 

Making a conscious effort to recognise your people and their achievements will go a long way to winning their loyalty and commitment. This does not have to be formal or scripted, or come with a cost. Just by simply recognising when they go the extra mile, work late, sort out a small problem, or help a colleague through a thank you card, an email, a mention in the team meeting or taking time in a one-to-one to tell them you appreciate their efforts can make all the difference.

Currently, all businesses are finding it challenging to recruit, so take care of the talent you have. Nurture them, recognise them, develop them, care for them, and they will care for you.

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