Employee Engagement: Definition, Importance and Strategies
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement represents the degree to which employees feel invested in and motivated by their work. It sounds like a simple concept, but it plays a huge role in the performance of your business (more on that in just a minute).
Employee engagement levels are influenced by a number of different factors that vary by location, company, culture and individual characteristics. And not only are those factors different for each individual, they also change over time.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
No matter how good of a work ethic and overall fit a person is to your company, their engagement levels will decrease significantly if you don’t have a plan to support their interests and needs throughout their career. Only 32% of employees are classified as engaged at work, which is a major issue for employers. Still, executives and leadership teams often wonder why employee engagement is important. The following three outcomes prove its positive impact on your business:
1. Improved employee satisfaction.
While 89% of employees are "somewhat-to-very" satisfied at work, that doesn’t mean they’re engaged. An employee can be totally satisfied chillin’ at their desk, sending emails and doing minimal work. That person is happy, but they certainly aren’t engaged. We don’t mean to scare you, though, because there is good news. While satisfaction does not equal engagement, engagement does typically lead to satisfaction. Engaged employees believe in the company and its mission, and they give their work everything they have every day. That engagement naturally leads to improved satisfaction. It’s a win-win.
2. Higher retention rate.
Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their current employer. That’s great news, but it gets even better. While more than half of disengaged employees would consider leaving their job for another offer, that number drops to just 25% among engaged employees. Once you’ve gone through the process of hiring a great employee, the last thing you want to do is start from scratch because they left for greener pastures. Engagement is the best way to make sure that doesn’t happen.
3. Enhanced productivity + profitability.
Yup. Companies with higher levels of employee engagement see a 21% increase in productivity and a corresponding 22% increase in profitability. If you’re not sold on the importance of employee engagement programs at this point, best of luck to you!
Creating an Employee Engagement Program
You understand the importance of employee engagement, but actually doing something about it can seem like a daunting task. As with most things in life, it helps to have a solid plan in place. That’s where employee engagement programs come in.
An employee engagement program is simply a documented plan for monitoring and improving employee engagement among your team. But, like anything involving humans, there’s a lot that goes into the process of creating an engagement program at your company.
Rather than diving into minutiae that may not be relevant to your company, let’s examine a few low-lift areas of focus when designing an employee engagement program. Before you get started, however, it’s important to take stock of where you’re at by first measuring employee engagement.
Mission and Value Statements
These statements are actually much more important than you may think. 80% of people feel more engaged with work that aligns with the company’s core values and mission. It’s easy to write a couple of sentences or full of buzz words to portray your company’s mission and value, but substance is always more important than style. Instead, take the time to talk with your entire team to establish core value statements that are meaningful and accurately represent your company and its people.
A job description is often the first touch point a potential candidate will have with your company. If you’ve ever tried to write a job description, you’ll know that it is no simple task to incorporate all of the responsibilities a job entails along with candidate requirements and a summary of the company and its mission. But nailing the job description will help you attract candidates who understand the expectations and are excited to engage in the role.
The Hiring Process
Creating a culture of engaged employees starts with a cadre of engaged candidates. A positive candidate experience can transform your role from a job they need to a job they want, which will pay dividends in the form of improved employee engagement.
Even under the best of circumstances, starting a new job is stressful. From meeting new colleagues to meeting new expectations, everything is an unknown. Setting your new hires up for quick success will improve productivity and leave them feeling ready to tackle even more.
Perks and Benefits
Companies spend a lot of time crafting perk packages to attract top talent, but they often overlook how those offering impact engagement. Game rooms and 401(k) matches are great, but offerings like professional development opportunities or health and wellness programs may be more impactful.
Open Lines of Communication
The issues behind poor employee engagement are often relatively minor, but if you don’t know what they are there’s no way they can be addressed. Open lines of communication — be they anonymous employee engagement surveys or face to face sit downs — are the only way to understand what’s influencing the engagement of your team.
Leadership always sets the standard, and they are key motivators when it comes to engagement, but don’t expect people to be born into a leadership role. Even if they seek out the opportunity, be sure to provide adequate training to set your managers up for success. Here’s some hard stats to consider:
- Around 50% of people leave their job due to the manager.
- 42% of managers develop their leadership style based on their previous managers.
- 67% of millennials will leave a position that doesn’t have leadership opportunities.