Guest Column | August 17, 2017

Employee Engagement – The Often Overlooked Critical Component To Your Business Success

Jacyn Heavens, Founder & CEO of Epos Now

How a tech company with an average employee age of 24 keeps its workforce engaged

No matter what industry your business operates, employee engagement is the cornerstone of productivity. Engaged employees view themselves as stakeholders in your business, going above and beyond to deliver quality products and services to your customers, as ultimately it benefits them. If you recognize your people as your biggest asset and you do right by them, they’ll do right by you.

By and large I see millennials getting a bad rap in the workplace, but maybe it's the static notion of the ‘workplace’ that needs to evolve in order to better meet the needs of their people. The technology sector is always advancing and improving. If you align company goals with personal aspirations, you futureproof your business, increase productivity, improve quality and retain your organization’s best people.

As the founder and CEO of the UK’s fastest growing EPOS provider (TechTrack 100), and Europe’s 46th fastest growing company (FT1000) I have found securing high levels of employee engagement has been critical to driving growth. Here are my top tips for how to establish award winning employee engagement in your technology business.

Create a dynamic company culture

What are the core values of your business? What’s your company vision? What kind of workplace do you want to operate in? How do you want your organization to be perceived by prospective employees and customers? The answers to these questions form the basis of your company culture.

Just like the people who work in them, every company is different. The average age of an Epos Now employee is just 24 years old. Our company growth is driven by motivating this demographic. We operate as a meritocracy, rewarding achievement and celebrating success. A work hard/play hard ethos has been effective at driving results in our business, but every organization is unique. Write a company mission statement and embody those values in the work you do every day.

Professional Development

There's nothing more disheartening than standing still in an organization, feeling like you're going anywhere. Ultimately, we’re all selfish. You're not going to give 100% if you’re not getting anything back. By offering employees an opportunity to broaden their skillset, take on new responsibilities, or try their hand in a different area of the business, you open up a whole new world of possibility to them. They’re also adding to a portfolio of skills that will add value to your business.

Epos Now has just received royal approval for our learning and development (L&D) efforts, winning the prestigious Princess Royal Training Award. Epos Now’s new starters enjoy a comprehensive in house training scheme which provides them with the industry context and technical skills they need to excel. Many of our managers and supervisors came into the business from the positions they now manage, a number of whom were apprentices and graduate interns. We enroll all new managers into accredited courses to set a benchmark of quality across the business. Investing in your employees is investing in your future growth and an opportunity for strong succession planning for senior positions. This is how you create the superstars of tomorrow.

Gamification

Gamification is a means of making every day work tasks fun, introducing elements of game playing, such as point scoring, leaderboards and friendly rivalries between teams. This appeals to the video game generation and has had a palpable effect on productivity within our organization, lead to an average growth rate of 156% year on year since its introduction.

When we moved to our new UK headquarters, we decked out the office with flat screen TV screens throughout, displaying sales rankings, team targets, and custom animations. When a team member makes a sale they have their own personal music video that plays in celebration, adding points to their personal and team score. We also run adhoc games and challenges, such as tennis during Wimbledon, and goal scoring during soccer/football season. Friendly competition and comradery go a long way in driving productivity amongst an already motivated team.

Incentives

It can be easy to lose sight of the big picture when dealing with challenges day to day. Keeping your team on point with regular incentives gives them something to work towards. Whether small or large, incentives are a welcome motivator. This could be a financial reward or social activity. Even food is often a cost effective and popular choice.

If you're holding an early meeting, why not sweeten the deal with breakfast? Need some commitment for over time, flash the cash! I believe social rewards, whether it is a few paid team drinks, or an annual company-wide party, are the best way to form lasting connections among the people that contribute to that sense of comradery and teamwork.

Awards

There's nothing like being rewarded as a team for collectively working toward a common goal. Epos Now has won dozens of awards in the past year for our products, services, and company culture. This is great recognition of our achievements and demonstrates what we can achieve when we work together. It also acts as a benchmark of quality, setting a standard of excellence and driving us to achieve more.

It should be a given you want your company to be the best, that means you want the best people for the job. If you're happy to settle for mediocrity you simply won’t succeed. We’ve found winning these awards acts as an effective recruitment tool for seeking out the best people for the job. People want to be associated with success and these accolades provide you with a credibility which is attractive to talented and driven candidates.

Final thoughts

There are no hard and fast rules for guaranteeing high levels of employee engagement, but it does come down to having a good understanding of your workforce. I can’t stress enough that each organization is different, as are the people who make it up, but if you value your employees you should endeavor to do the best by them. Some of your staff may value benefits such as gym memberships, pensions, or educational courses, whereas others want to win vacation days and attend parties. Your employee engagement initiatives should reflect your company culture, ambitions, and goals. I believe the ones I’ve shared with you have not only helped established Epos Now as a key player in the EPOS market, but also created a thriving team across tour UK and US operations. It’s a source of great pride to me that I head a company of 200+ ambitious individuals, driven to achieving the same goal.

Jacyn Heavens is the founder and CEO of the UK's fastest growing EPOS provider, Epos Now. Epos Now's revolutionary award-winning AppStore equips SMEs the tool they need to thrive. In 2016, they expanded to serve American business owners with the same pioneering benefits. Their US arm of operations is established in Orlando, FL. For more information visit eposnow.com"