As a small business owner, you may wonder how employee engagement varies between companies like yours and big businesses. Well, here's some good news: Recent research shows that employees working at small businesses are much happier than the average U.S. employee. The 2017 Aflac Happiness Report surveyed 1,000 of them, and a whopping 75 percent say they are at least "very satisfied" working for a small employer. That's an impressive stat on its own, but when you compare it to Gallup's latest State of the American Workplace report, which found that 70 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged, it's downright stunning.

What Are We Doing Well?

Aflac reports that the things employees like best about working for small businesses include flexible scheduling, visibility into the fruits of their labors, feeling that their input matters, and being recognized and rewarded.

Of those employees who had previously worked for a large company, an amazing 67 percent said they felt more appreciated working for a small business. The Aflac survey also shows that employees have strong positive feelings for their leadership teams.

What Can We Work On?

When it comes to employee feedback, your size gives you an edge. But it's important not to rest on your laurels or make assumptions. Having one-on-one meetings to find out what your employees want and expect can help boost employee engagement. Here are some topics to get the ball rolling.

1. More Recognition

The ADP Research Institute report Mid-Sized Talent Findings: Employees vs. Employers shows "expectations gaps" between employers and employees around issues like recognition: While 56 percent of employers say they recognize employees enough, only 45 percent of employees actually feel sufficiently recognized. Get a feel for the current climate and come up with new ways to show employees how much they are appreciated.

2. Employee Development

Employees, especially high-caliber employees, want to develop and grow in their careers. But while 56 percent of employers surveyed by ADP felt they were doing enough to develop employees, only 28 percent of employees agreed. Now that's an expectation gap. Brainstorm with your management team: What are some mutually beneficial ways you can give employees more room to grow?

3. Customizable Benefits

Be sure that the benefits you offer employees are the kind they want. Some employees may want flexible scheduling and more paid time off, while others might want an employer-matched retirement savings plan. Ask them and customize what you offer wherever possible.

So how happy and engaged are your small business employees? And what opportunities do you have to help them become even more engaged? They're right there, so all you have to do is ask them!

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Tags: Employee Engagement