Employee engagement is more than a buzzword. It’s a necessity.
If you’ve heard mention of employee engagement more than once in the last year, you’re not alone. It turns out that dissatisfied and disengaged employees cost employers a lot of money, nearly 550 billion dollars according to one study, and that number worries a lot of people. How can employers shift gears and re-engage employees? Can turnover be reduced through increasing engagement? Can encouraging engagement in the workplace actually have an impact on the bottom line and take companies to the next level?
We’re here to break down engagement, show you what it looks like, and provide some compelling arguments that indeed it does impact the bottom line (along with a lot of other things!)
What's the Impact?
According to Gallup over 85% of employees showed up to work today disengaged from their projects and their work. While everybody is disengaged at one time or another, and it isn’t reasonable to expect everyone to be engaged all the time, 85% is a worrying statistic. Imagine if 85% of drivers were disengaged from the task of driving. Getting in a car would be much more dangerous!
Employee engagement can seem like a nebulous topic. Most people can agree that engaged employees are better than disengaged ones, but what exactly does employee engagement look like?
Disengaged employees are those that are not invested in their work, and only do the minimum to get the job done. They don’t care as much as they could and rarely work to improve processes, focusing only on the daily tasks they’re given. They’re there for the paycheck, or the relationships they have with their coworkers, or maybe simply because it’s part of their routine.
Engaged employees, however, bring enthusiasm to the table, they look for ways to improve things all around them, whether that’s a process or a project. Engaged employees ask for feedback, take initiative, and strive for a gold standard in everything they do. Engaged employees elevate, inspire, and give full effort to everything they do.
Since we already know the annual cost of disengagement to US companies (seriously, 550 billion dollars?), what areas specifically does employee engagement influence?
A strong, clear, effective onboarding program sets the tone for the work ahead. Laying this framework early on fosters an environment of engagement, and ensures a quicker ROI on your new hire.
Engagement improves performance, often resulting in higher productivity, sales, and profitability. In one study employers with high engagement scores saw 20% higher sales.
Good conversations with managers and effective goal setting can make employees 2.8 times more likely to be engaged. Communication is important in all things—especially in making sure employees are dialed in.
Engagement decreases turnover. Employees are less likely to leave, saving the company time and money in hiring and training new employees. Plus if employees DO leave, they leave with a high opinion of a great culture of engagement.
Employee engagement takes many forms, and there is no one right answer. However, in our experience with engagement we’ve seen some key factors that have a big impact on employee engagement—starting right at the beginning with attracting the right talent.
The engagement level of current employees influences the quality of potential job candidates— from internal referrals to individuals outside the company who come in for an interview. Candidates can sense how engaged your workforce is, and can thereby determine the workplace culture fairly accurately very quickly.
Hiring someone that fits the role the best increases the likelihood of engagement. “Best fit” for the role means the employee will feel empowered to succeed and will be more productive as a result. This has a wide-ranging affect, and can lead employees to stay longer too!
Simply being aware of your employees and recognizing them for a job well done has a massive impact, and it doesn’t have to be a big ceremony, either. The best recognitions can be as small as a thank you email or as big as an annual award, but both have significant influence on employee engagement. If you want employees to be engaged you must engage with them, and there's no better way than recognizing them for their efforts!
Rewarding employees is a delicate balance. Whereas some might prefer something more personalized like a service award plaque, others might prefer a different award. We believe giving the power of choice makes employees feel like their employer actually cares about them—enough to let them select their own reward from millions of options.
Work Life Balance
Work is important. We all need a place to be productive and let’s be honest, we all need money. However, recognizing that employees need time away from work in appropriate amounts can heavily influence the engagement of your workforce. Allowing appropriate time off, flex time, and basically understanding your employees are humans with lives is always a good practice to increase engagement.
Opportunities for Growth
Opportunities for growth and learning are vital to a good strategy of engagement. If employees feel stuck in their role without the chance to grow and advance their career, engagement will decline sharply.
Compensation is a sticky subject. Few people like to talk about it and even fewer like to think about it as a factor of engagement. But let’s be real—compensation is at least part of why everyone comes to work—and it’s a lot easier to come to work if you feel like you’re being paid fairly for your efforts.
The Future of Engagement
Employee engagement will continue to grow as an important facet of company culture and progress, and will likely be even more visible in many industries across the globe as time progresses. As you strive to make engagement more important in your own world, utilize the best practices above and see your organization change as a result.