Welcome to “Summertime…and Improving Productivity Is Easy: Eight Ways to Increase Employee Engagement,” a ScottMadden eight-part series. Based on a recent Gallup study, we know that approximately 70% of employees are not engaged at work, resulting in lower job performance and loss of time and money for the organization. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll provide insights on how employee engagement impacts your business outcomes as well, as tangible examples of how you can increase engagement among your employees. Click here to see the complete series.
In the fourth installment of the series, we explore how networking, both internally and externally, can improve engagement in current roles and shape future career goals for your employees.
Networking at Its Best
Networking, whether internal or external, contributes to an employee’s professional growth and develops thought leaders within the organization. Being asked to attend a sales meeting or industry conference as a representative of your team motivates employees. Putting trust in employees to represent a team or the company is an excellent way to boost engagement.
Imagine having employees on your team who have a clear understanding of the ins and outs of your business. Now imagine how those employees feel. Empowered? Confident? Vested? All of the above!
An example of an internal opportunity is your annual sales meeting. Rather than sending only your sales staff and senior product development teams, consider sending a representative from your client services group, the on-site implementation team, or an application developer.
Diversifying the attendees allows more key knowledge to be shared among attendees and, more importantly, allows those employees the professional growth to start thinking on a larger scale about their jobs. We’ve all experienced it before—that feeling when colleagues gather and start riffing off each other’s business ideas. While not all ideas generated during a sales meeting or at the social afterward come to fruition, they often light a fire in the employees that then carries over to other brainstorming sessions they participate in back in the office.
Allowing employees from various departments to share their experiences also makes your organization stronger. Their internal networks have been expanded, and they’re able to rely on those new relationships to get their current jobs done more effectively. In addition, exposure to other teams may spark interest in career next steps.
As employees return from conferences, ask them to present what they learned to your department. In addition to finessing their presentation skills, your employees will exercise leadership and management skills to determine what the most pressing takeaways from each session are. Instilling trust in your employees to attend conferences and deliver these recaps builds confidence and increases engagement.
Of course, networking with external contacts is a wonderful way to build business and keep in touch with the thought leaders in your industry. Be sure to discuss networking opportunities with each employee to ensure he/she understands the benefits and approaches to networking before a conference.
Costs for external conferences can be offset by becoming a speaker at the conference. Once again, this enables employees to leverage their knowledge and expertise on a topic shared with conference attendees.
 Gallup, “The Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis,” 2016
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