The world has gone through so much transformation in the past few years, with the coronavirus pandemic, international conflict, and so many other economic frictions.
Unfortunately, the workplace is not left out of this transformation – with the lockdown (stay-at-home) order and economic shutdown that left a lot of businesses out of work and so many people jobless and other demotivated.
Employees are the powerhouse of every organizational success, without them, it would be impossible to have some of the companies we have today still running. They put their skill, experience, and expertise into work to make the organization thrive and grow.
Judging by how important and valuable employees are to every organization’s success, company leaders and managers have become more aware of the term – employee engagement – to drive employee growth and connection with the company.
Recent research by Harvard Business Review found that “92% of business executives believe that engaged employees perform better, boosting the success of their teams and the outcomes of their organizations.”
Employees who are more connected and committed to an organization put more effort and skill into their work and tend to perform better than other employees who lack organizational commitment – which explains why a lot of organizations are actively investing in employee engagement.
In this guide, we will take you through all you should know about employee engagement and how you can improve employee engagement in your organization.
Table of Contents
- What is employee engagement?
- Employee engagement vs. employee experience
- Why is employee engagement important?
- Drivers of employee engagement.
- Employee engagement roles.
- Employee engagement myths
- What is an employee engagement strategy?
- 10 Employee engagement strategies to implement in 2022
- Three(3) types of employee engagement surveys
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement refers to the commitment, interest, and connection an employee has with an organization. It essentially looks at the way employees are invested in achieving their daily tasks and contributing to the overall success of the organization.
According to Gallup’s definition, “employee engagement is the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in both their work and the workplace. “
It is specifically the way an employee thinks, feels, and acts as well as the emotional connection they have with their organization, work, and team.
The modern workplace seeks to build a work environment that supports employees’ personal growth and development to encourage them to stay committed to the organization and be actively concerned about its growth and success.
A study by Gallup on employee engagement and performance discovered that:
Organizations with high employee engagement experienced 23% higher profitability, 10% better customer loyalty and engagement, and 18% more sales productivity.
It further reported that organizations with more engaged employees had lesser negative outcomes like high turnover and high absenteeism.
Levels of Employee Engagement
Experts suggest four profiles of employee engagement.
1. Highly engaged employees have a good opinion of their workplace and are those sets of employees that don’t only love working there but are advocates that will encourage others to love the organization too. These employees love their jobs, feel connected to their teammates, and have a positive emotional connection with the organization.
As a result of these feelings towards the organization, they are most likely to perform better than other employees.
2. Moderately engaged employees see their organization in a moderately favorable light. They are not brand advocates like the highly engaged employees but certainly a considerable amount of love and emotional connection with their organization.
These employees love their team and job company but demand improvement in company culture. Due to the personal or work-related concerns they have with their job or the organization, they tend to not perform to their optimum capacity.
3. Barely engaged employees are mostly indifferent to the organization. They have deep concerns with the organization which affects their feeling and emotional connection with their team or the organization.
Barely engaged employees have a low motivation rate and would only do jobs they are assigned, with less concern about the overall success or growth of the organization. Barely engaged employees are most likely researching other jobs and are at a high turnover risk.
4. Disengaged employees have negative feelings towards the organization and are known to be disruptive when dealing with their concerns. They lack the commitment to their team, job position, and responsibilities and have disengaged from the organization, mission, vision, and goals.
Disengaged employees’ negative feelings towards the organizations can make them give very critical, unhealthy feedbacks that can affect the productivity of people around them. It is important for HR leaders, senior-level managers, and employees to understand how best to handle a disengaged employee. Check out some sales motivational quotes to encourage your team.
What Employee Engagement is Not
Employee engagement is often mistaken with other employee-related concepts and confusing the general idea of employee engagement with the following concepts can undermine the essence of the topic.
Employee happiness is the emotional state of an employee and has no correlation with the rate at which an employee is invested and committed to his or her job. An employee can be happy at work due to certain factors like personal issues, psychological state of mind, and other reasons but might still not be committed to organization’s growth and success.
Employee happiness is a short-term connection to an organization while employee engagement is a long-term connection and commitment to an organization. For example, an announcement about salary increments and team vacation can make an employee temporarily happy with the organization, but could still slip back into a disengaged state after some time.
Employee satisfaction is a measure of an employee’s satisfaction or contentedness with their job and work environment. Job satisfaction doesn’t translate to employee engagement – the satisfied employee is okay with their job, team, and work environment and would only do as much as their job responsibility tells them to do.
Whereas, an engaged employee is a satisfied employee who would be willing to go over and beyond for the organization’s success. Engaged employees are productive while satisfied employees do their job and nothing more.
Employee motivation refers to the amount of energy, commitment, and enthusiasm that an employee brings to their job. Although employee motivation is a key attribute of employee engagement, it doesn’t always translate to actual employee engagement.
For example, an employee can be motivated to exceed their monthly performance but might end up not doing so – they can be motivated but not necessarily engaged.
Employee wellbeing is the overall mental, physical, emotional, and financial health of an employee while employee engagement is concerned with the emotional connection and commitment of an employee to an organization.
Although sound employee well-being can greatly influence employee engagement, the two concepts focus on different aspects of an employee’s life.
Employee autonomy refers to the freedom and control given to employees to take charge of their work in a way that suits them without any interference or external control. It is one of the steps taken by an organization to improve employee engagement but might not always translate to that.
For example, an employee might be given the freedom to control the process and techniques used to work but might not necessarily be interested in the organization’s short and long-term goals.
Characteristics of Employee Engagement
Employee engagement describes the level of fulfillment, commitment, and dedication an employee feels towards their job. The following are the characteristics of employee engagement as suggested by HR leaders:
1. It is quantifiable – you can measure employee engagement.
2. It can be managed and improved – HR managers, team managers, and employees can work together to improve employee engagement.
3. It can be rated – Employee engagement ranges from low/average to excellent
4. Employee engagement is a strategy that helps organizations succeed by improving employee performance, productivity, and well-being.
Employee Engagement vs. Employee Experience
Employee experience refers to the journey an employee takes with an organization during their employee life cycle. It encompasses every relationship, interaction, and communication an employee has with various touchpoints of the organization.
It journals their experience and time spent with the organization from hiring state to the time spent working and progressing till they eventually exit the organization. It chronicles their interaction, relationship, and experience working with their co-workers, team managers, hr managers, top-level executives, and the organization as a whole.
Employee experiences are formed by things as simple as how easy they find answers to their questions, how easy it is to relate and grow with their team, and complex things like how employee-manager relationships evolve.
The six key elements that drive employee experience include:
- Authenticity – How true they are to themselves at work.
- Optimism – How positive they feel about workplace outcomes.
- Purpose & meaning – The sense of fulfillment they get from contributing to organizational success.
- Social connection – Personal relationships developed at work
- Belonging – Their sense of belonging is a result of a feeling of being accepted, appreciated, and included by the team and organization.
- Engagement – Their commitment to the organization, its goals, and values.
Employee engagement is the level of interest and commitment an employee has towards an organization and its goals, missions, and vision.
While an employee experience is the collation of moments/experiences they have had over time while working with an organization while employee engagement is the relationship and connection they have shared with the company as a whole.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
Existing research shows that a high level of employee engagement influences the success and growth rate of organizations. Hence, it is safe to say that high-performing employees are engaged, employees.
When an organization is able to engage employees, they become more interested and committed to achieving organizational goals. Interestingly, employee engagement can help you achieve the following:
1. Increased Employee Productivity
Engaged employees are 17% more productive than their co-workers.
Existing research shows that highly engaged employees are more likely to put in more effort and dedication to their tasks to achieve improved productivity and job performance than other employees.
2. Higher Employee Retention
According to the Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology at work,
An engaged employee is 87% less likely to leave an organization for other firms.
This means that engaged employees are most likely not going to leave an organization for another firm because of three factors.
- They know they will be recognized for their efforts and contributions.
- They can spot opportunities in the organization that can support their professional growth and career development
- They have a good understanding of when and why organizational change occurs.
A clear understanding of the above factors reduces the turnover rate among engaged employees.
3. Better Customer Satisfaction
72% of business executives belive that highly engaged employees have more happy customers.
Engaged employees care about their job and are also passionate about solving their customer’s needs and improving their experience. When customers are happy with the service they get from the employees, it leads to a better customer satisfaction rate.
4. Higher Job Satisfaction
The engaged workforce has positive feelings toward their job, team, and organization. The positive relationship and emotional connection they have with the organization bring higher satisfaction in their respective jobs.
5. Lower Absenteeism
Highly engaged workplaces record 41% lower rate of absenteeism.
It’s no magic or miracle, when employees are engaged and committed to the success of an organization, they tend to show up more at work.
6. Increased Revenue
According to a study by Gallup,
Highly engaged workforce contribute to a10% increase in customer ratings, 20% increase in sales and 21% greater profitability.
Highly engaged teams are top performers who are always willing and ready to achieve their target and contribute to organizational growth.
7. Better Employee health
Employees that are highly engaged and committed to work. They are always working to ensure they meet their personal and organizational goals. By constantly working, they are less likely to be obese or suffer from chronic illnesses.
With this positive mindset, they are more likely to eat healthier and exercise better to drive better business outcomes.
8. Higher Customer Loyalty
When engaged employees improve their customer experience and satisfy all their needs, they are more likely to become loyal customers that will always return for more business opportunities.
9. Decreased Workplace Injury
70% fewer safety incidents occur in highly engaged workplaces.
Research suggests that employees that are more engaged at work are more aware of their environment and are less likely to suffer accidents at work.
Drivers of Employee Engagement
Employee engagement drivers are those factors that have the capacity to impact employee engagement outcomes. Successful employee engagement strategies work with the following drivers of employee engagement to increase the rate of engaged employees:
1. Trust in leadership
Employee engagement takes the collaborative effort of everyone in the company to achieve. The leadership style of an organization determines how the employees relate to their work and their commitment to work.
To inspire employees to commit to their job and be passionate about helping the organization, the leaders have to be present, active, and transparent to drive the goodwill of the company among employees. So when employees trust in their leader’s vision and goals, it can encourage them to do more.
2. Meaningful work
For employees to be committed to their work, they have to know that they are contributing to the organization’s growth and success. They should have a sense of fulfillment from doing the job that makes them feel indispensable to the organization.
When employees are given the right tools with autonomy to take full ownership of their job, they tend to be more engaged and committed to helping the organization grow.
3. Positive Work Environment
Regardless of the workplace guideline, either working physically at the office or working remotely, employees generally want to work in a place that supports their personal growth and development.
Employees who work in a positive environment that accepts and welcomes their idea, and contributions tend to be more committed to the overall success of the company than others. An encouraging, diverse and inclusive work environment encourages employees to be engaged at work.
Everyone wants to work in a place that supports their personal and career growth. When employees feel that they have a future with the organization they are working with, it encourages them to do their job and key into the company’s mission, vision, and goals.
An organization that makes employee development plans and on-job training is not only passionate about its growth but wants to see its employees win too. When employees see this, it influences them to do more.
5. Supportive Management
A lot influences employees’ decisions to commit to the core values, goals, and objectives of the organization. Managers are key drivers of employee engagement because they work directly with the employees and can positively impact them to do more.
An organization that equips its managers with constant training and tools that make them better at their managerial role. When managers have the right skills and information, they can support their team members and build strong working relationships with them.
Employee Engagement Roles
Every person in an organization can influence employee engagement. From the top-level executives, team managers, HR managers, and employees, their attitude to work, approach to teamwork and team building as well as the quality of relationships they build can impact employee engagement.
Below is a breakdown of everyone’s role in fostering employee engagement in an organization:
The role of leaders in employee engagement
Leadership buy-in is critical to successfully enhancing employee engagement in an organization. Leaders are top promoters and influencers of engaged culture. Organizational leaders can support employee engagement by doing the following:
- Setting the tone for the organization’s engagement culture.
- Have a vision and promote their vision to employees.
- Communicate every organizational change.
- Constantly update the employee on plans and progress – essentially carrying them along.
The role of HR in employee engagement
HR is the department in an organization that manages employees and every employee-related initiative and activity. The HR team is a key driver of employee engagement as they can guide teams and hold them accountable when they fail to deliver on their job.
HR can support employee engagement in the following ways:
- Research and select the right employee engagement partner.
- Implement the best tools and resources that can support and encourage employees to be more engaged.
- They can support and develop managers.
- Manage the day-to-day needs and happening related to employee engagement.
The role of managers in employee engagement
Managers work and interact with teams directly and can create a positive work environment that supports employee engagement. Managers can support employee engagement in the following ways:
- Build and maintain good relationships with every employee.
- Create an environment where feedback and suggestions can be shared without issues.
- Recognize and celebrate individuals’ and teams’ performance.
- Provide continuous performance feedback and report.
- Help employees grow and thrive.
The role of employees in employee engagement
Employees are the main subjects of employee engagement in an organization. They are the voices that give you insight into your organization’s employee engagement situation. Employees can impact employee engagement in the following ways:
- Provide honest, actionable, and candid feedback to the management on what’s working and what’s not working.
- Brainstorm and research new, creative and innovative ways to solve the problems.
- Take charge of their performance and development
- Engage in meaningful relationships and conversations with their co-workers and managers.
Employee Engagement Myths
The following are the common myths about employee engagement that you should be addressed:
Myth 1: Serious employees are engaged employees
Serious employees are committed to performing their jobs and showing up at work but might not necessarily be committed to the organization. Aside from doing their job as and when due, they could be as disengaged as every other employee.
These type of employees could be doing their job to stay off from any issue with the manager but wouldn’t think twice if given the option of getting another job.
Myth 2: Employee engagement requires a big investment
Most startups think employee engagement practices and strategies require a large investment to make them work. Companies can improve employee engagement by paying close attention to the needs, and complaints of their employees and by working with team managers and HR to find lasting solutions to the concerns.
HR and managers can also use employee engagement surveys and tools to improve employee engagement.
Myth 3: Employee engagement is the job of HR
HR is charged with the sole responsibility of managing teams and ensuring the welfare and well-being of employees are protected. However, employee engagement is a collective responsibility that cuts across different individuals and teams in an organization.
While HR could take it upon themselves to champion the employee engagement initiative, it takes the collaborative effort of everyone to make it work.
Myth 4: Happy Employees are engaged employees
The fact that an employee is happy does not mean that they are engaged and committed to the goals and core values of employee engagement. An employee’s happiness could come from different reasons ranging from personal reasons to certain factors in the workplace.
An employee could be happy because of their team or manager relationship but could still not be engaged with the organization and less concerned about its growth.
Myth 5: Employee engagement is nothing, but just a buzzword
Contrary to the popular belief that employee engagement is just a “mere trend or buzzword” and isn’t something that has to be promoted. Employee engagement is a real issue that can help an organization grow and have employees that are beneficial to the organization and care about its growth and success.
What is an Employee Engagement Strategy?
According to research on more than 600 companies in the US with 50- 500 employees, 63.3% of these companies find it harder to retain employees than to hire them and 81% disclosed that employee turnover is a cost-intensive problem.
The high turnover rate is a clear indication that a lot of companies struggle with maintaining employee engagement – which is where employee engagement strategy comes to play.
Nectar defines employee engagement strategy as a
“A plan detailing how your company will keep your employees engaged—a way for companies to be deliberate about getting people engaged and to document those efforts explicitly.”
It further recommends that an effective employee engagement strategy should clearly define employee engagement initiatives as follows:
- Goals for improving employee engagement
- Estimated budget to drive employee engagement activities.
- How to measure employee engagement.
- Proven tactics on how to increase employee engagement.
10 Employee Engagement Strategies to Implement in 2022
A successful employee engagement strategy supports employee growth, and relationships with their teams and the organization and influences them to be committed to the organization’s growth.
Here are some proven tactics and strategies that you can use to boost employee engagement among your teams and the organization as a whole.
1. Build trust
Trust is an integral part of fostering employee engagement in any organization. For your employees to be committed to the core values and goals of an organization, they have to trust the leadership and the mission to be good for them.
When employees have built trust with the organization, they have a sense of ownership and eliminate the hierarchical divide which encourages them to be more productive and engaged.
2. Give employees their job autonomy
When employees are given freedom and control over the work, they feel more responsible for their job and feel more satisfied with their contribution to the organization.
Shiv Gupta, the CEO of Incrementors SEO, advised that
“Give employees autonomy and empower them to do what they feel is truly meaningful and impactful work. It’s all about enabling them to shape their own story as opposed to fitting into one we’ve created.”
3. Improve your communication approach
An organization must have a strong communication approach and strategies that foster togetherness and goodwill among employees. With Covid, many organizations have adopted the remote and hybrid work culture and this has changed the scope of the traditional workplace as we know it.
Hence, you have to create a communication strategy that is inclusive and diverse for all kinds of employees irrespective of where they are working from. When you carry your employee along with all your plans and development, they feel part of the system and are motivated to contribute to the growth of the organization.
4. Get to know your employees and show them you care
People stay where they are appreciated and loved. If your organization creates a hostile environment where the company leaders and managers show no care or concern towards the employees, they would naturally feel left out and unappreciated.
In the words of Bryce Welker, CEO at CPA Exam Guy,
“Familiarize yourself with their role, how they feel about the company, and get to know who they are as people when they are not at work—to build the kind of meaningful relationships that create engaged workers.”
5. Offer learning opportunities and personal development resources
If you really want employees that are committed and true to the goals of the organization, you have to also commit to their growth and personal success. Continuing education is a crucial part of every organization’s growth plan and is one of the things employees are looking for in their workplace.
Paul French, the managing director of Intrinsic Search advised that
One way we motivate and engage our employees is through education reimbursement for company-approved training and courses.”
Creating a learning and development plan shows your employees how much you care and value them,
6. Create a transparent work environment
When your employees don’t know what’s going on behind the scene, they wouldn’t know how best their job role or responsibility is to help the organization grow.
Chris Muktar, the Founder of Wikijob, advised that
It is important to be transparent to your employees because if you don’t inform them about what;s going on, they wouldnt be able to fully invest or engage themselves to the orrgarnization.
Business leaders and managers must decide from hoarding information from employees to enable them to commit to the organizational goals.
7. Be open to employee feedback
The key to having engaged and committed employees is having a workplace culture that supports open and true feedback from all employees.
The only way you find out what’s wrong with your workplace culture and can find a solution to it is by hearing directly from employees. be open, and flexible with every feedback or comment you get from your employees as this can get in the way of their commitment to your organization.
Caroline Lee, Co-founder of Cocosign advised that organizations should
“Build a platform or system that empowers employees to share their ideas and ask queries of the right people
8. Be deliberate about workplace culture
Experts have found a correlation between company culture, employee engagement, and productivity.
Eric Wu, the co-founder, and COO of Gainful advised that
The key elements of maintaining employee engagement while working remotely are creating a balanced company culture and having employees form personal relationships within the company.”
By having a great company culture that considers every employee’s interest and maintains open communication with them, you build a workplace where employees can thrive and offer their support.
9. Define and promote your core values
If you want to have more employees that are committed to your organizational growth, then you must clearly define your company’s core value and make it at the core of your company’s culture.
Experts advise that by promoting core values among employees, they form an emotional bond with the organization and it influences them to do more.
10. Provide extra employee benefits and privileges.
As recruitment has become more intense with big brands competing with themselves to get the top talents. Organizations must provide extra benefits and privileges that can motivate employees to key into the organization’s goals and make their contributions to its success.
Some of the popular benefits used by other organizations include:
- Home office stipends.
- Gym memberships
- Advanced education packages.
- Retirement benefits
- Medical insurance
- Paid leave
Three(3) types of employee engagement surveys
An Employee engagement survey can be used to measure employee engagement in three ways
1. Employee Engagement Surveys
A comprehensive engagement survey helps to understand and measure employee engagement with scientifically developed questions in an organization.
2. Pulse surveys
Pulse surveys are used to help an organization gather real-time information or feedback about any topics from employees. This is best used during a major change in the organization.
3. Employee lifecycle surveys
Employee lifecycle surveys are used to get feedback from employees during key moments in their time as an employee in the organization. They are classified into three parts:
- New hire surveys for new hires
- Stay surveys for employees still working in the company
- Exist surveys for the ones leaving the company.
Employee engagement is a crucial aspect of organizational growth and success. An organization can not achieve its goals and thrive without employees who are committed to work and are passionate about the organization’s growth.
Consider the above strategies and tactics to help your employees commit to work.