Why is employee engagement important?
— March 11th, 2021
The Harvard Business Review recently called employee engagement “the holy grail of today’s workplace”.
Highly engaged employees are a significant factor in the success of a business, while on the flip side, disengaged employees can radically affect a company’s profitability.
A Gallup poll revealed that of the 70% of American workers who are not reaching their full potential, 52% are not engaged, and another 18% are actively disengaged. These actively disengaged employees are costing the US between $450 billion and $550 billion in lost productivity, every year.
Three key communication lessons for managing a crisis
These astounding figures should be enough to show just how important it is to foster company-wide employee engagement strategies, but if you need further encouragement, here are five ways in which employee engagement is so important to a company’s success:
- A happy and engaged employee is less likely to want to leave a company than a non-engaged employee. If you factor in the cost of replacing an employee (which could be anything from 10% of their annual pay to 150%), reducing employee churn can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.
- Happy and engaged employees work harder. A McKinsey Global Institute survey found that productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees. This level of productivity growth has the potential for revenues of approximately $1.3 trillion per year.
- We’ve already mentioned how disengaged employees can have a negative impact on profitability; however, companies with engaged employees tend to have higher profitability rates. When employees are connected with a company they are naturally more inclined to be productive and efficient. As Richard Branson said, “look after your staff and they’ll look after your customers“.
- It’s no secret, engaged employees perform at a higher level and have a more natural interest in their job. This has a positive knock-on effect in that they will often be the first to make suggestions for new ways of doing things, new product ideas, new ways of dealing with customers; in short, they tend to be the people who encourage innovation in the workplace, which in turn, can lead to business growth and success.
- The engaged worker is also more likely to pay attention to company communications, including safety notices. According to figures from Gallup, businesses with highly engaged employees suffer 70% fewer safety incidents. Fewer safety incidents lead to fewer sick days and the subsequent loss of reputation that goes along with these types of incidents. Outside of safety incidents, the same Gallup survey revealed that companies with an engaged workforce also experience 41% less absenteeism, which can have a substantial impact on a company’s bottom line.
What are some examples of employee engagement?
- Assigning company values
- Having teams create their own set of values
- Encouraging personal projects
- Assigning a buddy/mentor for every newcomer
- Having themed office days
- Organizing team photos
- Encouraging volunteering
- Raising salaries
- Reminding employees of the company’s mission and values
- Recognizing and encouraging innovation
- Celebrating people and achievements
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Showing respect to employees
- Empowering employees
- Encouraging learning
- Getting social
- Making sure workers have all the resources they need
What are the key elements of employee engagement?
Employers should communicate with their workers as often as possible in a way that is open and honest. It’s important to understand that your employees would rather hear about any issues the business is facing than be kept in the dark, or learn about it from a second-hand source. This open line of communication is a great way to build trust among workers, and keep them loyal to the organization through any difficulties it may be facing.
Honing a positive and welcoming culture throughout the workplace is an effective way to increase employee job satisfaction and engagement. This type of culture will have a significant impact on business profits and success, as when employees feel they are being respected with good working conditions, they will be more enthusiastic and hard-working in their roles, which will ultimately benefit the organization.
Rewards and recognition
Workers who feel their contributions are being taken into consideration by their employers will be more engaged with their work. Without this recognition or praise, employees will often become unmotivated and unproductive as they have nothing to strive towards. Some ways to provide this recognition include setting up an employee-of-the-month award, establishing a points system, or even sending a simple thank you card. These types of rewards will let workers know their work is appreciated and that they are a valuable asset to the business.
Professional and personal growth
Many employees want the opportunity to develop new skills and capabilities. This type of growth can occur on the job in the form of new projects and responsibilities, or else through certification courses, educational reading materials, and business conferences. Offering your employees room for growth will keep them engaged in their careers as they focus on continued education and learning.
Accountability and performance
Providing honest feedback to your employees is important as it either works to offer them praise and recognition or as a way to give constructive criticism that will educate and prevent the same mistakes from being made again.
Vision and values
Being aware of their company’s vision and values leads to engaged employees who feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves. You should ensure your workforce has a clear picture of the company’s core values and beliefs. Being kept in the loop will encourage employees to do all they can to help the business reach its goals and objectives.
So how do you know if you have an engaged workforce?
In any business, it can be difficult to keep track of employee sentiment. Work tends to take over and become the sole focus. But it’s a good idea to assess how engaged your employees are and to do so regularly.
We’ve spoken before about how important internal communications are to developing an engaged workforce. Establishing regular, two-way communications is a great way to create an open workplace where employees are kept up to date, encouraged to give feedback, and highlighted for their good work. Read our blog post about how internal communications can be used to drive employee engagement.
Once you have put in place a good internal communications strategy, it’s vital that you keep track of how it’s being received. There are many tools that help you to determine engagement with your message. We’ve written previously about the various ways in which you can gather and measure employee engagement and feedback. Company newsletters, pulse surveys, in-depth analytics are all key tools available to you to make it easier to be on top of employee sentiment. If you measure regularly you will be able to see any gradual changes and react accordingly.
The complete internal communication software to engage your employees
Who is responsible for employee engagement
Within an organization, leaders are the starting point for employee engagement. As the head of the business, their influence will work its way down through all levels of the company. Therefore, the attitude and approach senior leaders take towards employee engagement will set the tone across the entire organization. Leaders should:
- Display a positive attitude towards employee engagement
- Create strong engagement strategies.
- Clearly communicate any new developments in strategy
- Offer updates on organizational progress
After employee engagement strategies have been planned out, it is the role of HR to put these plans into action. The HR department takes responsibility for engagement initiatives and must ensure that everything runs smoothly throughout the process.
They must be prepared for any issues that arise and have solutions in place to combat them. In addition, it is the role of HR to provide training to employees on how to use engagement software and to supply managers with tools and resources.
As the first point of contact for employees, managers are responsible for incorporating any engagement strategies into the workplace. They must be prepared to deal with employee queries, questions, and concerns about these strategies, and to communicate them back to HR and leadership.
The role of managers in terms of employee engagement also includes motivating teams and workers, along with offering them support, praise, rewards, and new opportunities.
After an employee engagement strategy has been implemented, it is impossible to know if it is a success without requesting feedback from workers. When providing feedback, employees should be encouraged to be honest and to provide their opinions regarding any changes that could be made to improve their employee experience.
Employees are responsible for:
- Providing feedback to managers about what is and isn’t working with the current engagement strategy
- Brainstorming and offering solutions to improve the employee experience
- Seeking out development opportunities and learning experiences
- Providing updates on personal goals
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The importance of having a workforce composed of highly engaged employees cannot be overstated. By having strong employee engagement strategies in place, organizations will benefit from a reduction in staff turnover, improved productivity and efficiency, high levels