Employee engagement is critical to building a successful business. It is a goal that organizations strive to achieve but there isn’t a silver bullet to reach it. Driving employee engagement doesn’t come naturally to most. In fact, in the United States, only a third of employees are engaged at any one time.
Before we dive into the numbers and ways you can use technology to develop rockstar employees, let’s define employee engagement and its necessity in the workplace.
What is Employee Engagement?
According to Forbes, employee engagement is “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” In other words, it is how invested your team is in your organization. An engaged employee wants your company to succeed. An engaged employee believes in your mission. An engaged employee comes to work each day as an extension of you.
In a 2020 survey of pawnbrokers, Attracting, Training, and Retaining Top-Notch Employees was the third most important business objective out of twelve.
So how do you achieve that?
Your employees need to have a say in the business and they need to feel like they are part of a team that’s working toward a common goal. This is all about making sure your employees feel valued and important.
This is important because hiring a good employee is just a piece of the puzzle. According to a recent survey, 63% of companies say retaining employees is harder than hiring them.
Other reasons employee engagement should be a top priority for you in 2021 include:
- Employee engagement increases productivity in the workplace. Companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable.
- Employee engagement improves morale in the workplace.
- Engaged employees provide better customer service.
- Low engagement is expensive. On average, it costs $4,129 to hire new talent and $986 to onboard a new hire, which means you lose more than $5,000 every time an employee walks out the door.
Using Technology to Improve Employee Engagement
Technology within the workplace helps you achieve higher engagement and providing tools that empower your employees allows you to grow and expand more efficiently and quickly. In fact, technology could be your lifesaver in developing a fulfilling work culture and engaging your employees.
The remainder of this article will focus on how you can use technology (and more specifically Bravo) to improve employee engagement without extra expense.
Gamification happens when applying typical elements of a game (e.g. point scoring, competition with others) to other areas of activity like encouraging engagement with a service. Because people have a natural desire to compete, creating a fun and measurable way to do so within your business, will yield extraordinary results. It isn’t just about doing the job or getting the task done, it is about keeping up with or beating co-workers.
Gamification isn’t a new phenomenon. When we designed the user interface of Bravo’s dashboard 11 years ago, it was top of mind. We debated how we could create a central hub for employees to complete tasks, be rewarded for doing so, and how we could create internal competition. The result: more efficiency and more employee engagement.
In 2007, Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, unveiled the iPhone. Included in the user interface was red bubbles that counted tasks – unread emails, text messages, voice mails. A new game was created. Complete your tasks and the red bubbles disappear. The red bubbles are extremely effective and continue to be included in each new iOS release.
We loved that gamification and thought that giving employees red bubble tasks to track their efficiency and effectiveness would cause them to strive to complete the given tasks. We also liked the idea that managers could focus more on customers instead of micromanaging employees.
The Employee Performance report, which is accessible from the dashboard, shows the employee who is logged in key metrics. Operators rave that this is a favorite feature because it encourages competition and drives productivity.
Each night, the report is refreshed with data like loans written, sales gross profit, new customers. The report also includes a rank of how that employee is performing in their store, company, and amongst all Bravo users.
The beauty of gamification is that it provides instant feedback to your employees so that they can track, benchmark, and manage their efficiency and productivity. This results in more to your bottom line.
As a leader, the quicker you can help your employee move from helpless to helpful—the better. Dependent employees require a lot of direction, are reliant, and incapable of handling delegation of duties.
Bravo enables infinite configurations and employee security permissions so that you can let go of the reigns slowly. From limits to the ability to complete a transaction, the user experience can be completely customized for each employee. Even better, as an operator, you have the flexibility to create custom employee profiles. This is way better than a 0-100 security tree where each level is pre-configured.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for a new hire or team member is to let them know that you expect them to take personal responsibility for their work. Easily translated, this means writing good loans with a solid loan to value ratio. It means focusing on inventory turnover and not necessarily margin.
The Estimator and the Price Guide Report is a valuable tool and guide for new and experienced pawnbrokers alike. The data is extensive which encourages employees to conduct due diligence on each item. The important caveat here is that each item, in each category, is consistent. The Estimator helps drive the questions so that the loan underwriting is done accurately.
As an operator, you manage the payout percentage and should be reviewing your default rates and gross profit from buys and defaulted loans to determine the percentages. It’s also a good idea to shop your competition to ensure you’re lending the most in your area.
Bravo is designed to help you avoid micromanaging. It’s common to micromanage employees but is detrimental to an employee's growth. Micromanaging also has a negative effect on an employee’s satisfaction.
ALLOW PERSONAL TOOLS AT WORK
Millennials are the largest group in the United States workforce, and they are glued to devices. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a new phenomenon that drives more productivity. It increases employee engagement by giving employees autonomy to work in a variety of ways. These minor gains lead to big improvements.
Bravo saw a huge opportunity to give employees autonomy via mobile in 2016 when we launched Shopkeeper. We continue to actively develop the app and more than 50% of our users are champions of Shopkeeper.
Shopkeeper allows owners and managers to remotely approve transactions which leads to more loans, buys, and sales transactions. The app also allows employees to negotiate with online buyers who have made offers.
Shopkeeper allows for a 2-way chat with customers which completely elevates your customer experience. The favorite function of Shopkeeper is the ability to take a picture through the app and the image automatically syncs with that item. This leads to more online sales and again, a much better customer experience.
You know what they say... Happy Employees means Happy Customers. If you aren’t currently relying on technology to help develop rock-star employees, you’re missing out.
Happy employees lead to more profit, a happier work environment, and fulfilled customers. Leverage gamification, encourage independence, and allow BYOD to kickstart how you attract, retain, and train top-notch employees.
About the Author:
Tally Mack is a fifth-generation pawnbroker and eCommerce enthusiast. She loves traveling, being outside, and working out.
Before taking the reins as CEO, Tally served as Bravo's Vice President of Business Development, leading the company's sales and marketing organization. She's been instrumental in leading and executing many of the company's strategic shifts, including the acquisition of CompuPawn and the recent launch of UsedGuns.com.
Tally earned her Doctorate of Law (J.D.) from DePaul University College of Law in 2013 after attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she earned her B.A. in Communication Studies. She also completed the Key Executives Program from Harvard Business School in 2013.
Tally is a pawnshop lover and eCommerce enthusiast—dedicated to the success of both her employees and customers!