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Employee Engagement: Key to Improved Business Outcomes

July 03, 2019 Kaylene Eckels

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement measures the passion and commitment of employees to deliver their best efforts and create solutions that will benefit them, the customer and the company.  Engaged employees bring their best every day and are fully committed to supporting the vision, mission, and goals of the organization.

What Employee Engagement Is Not?

While it’s important to understand what employee engagement is, it’s also critical to understand what the phrase does not mean. It doesn’t mean applying a rigid formula designed to make people work harder through manipulation and false promises. Your employees won’t buy into your efforts unless they are genuine and backed by supportive actions.   

Employee engagement is also not employee satisfaction. Whereas satisfaction is a measure of happiness or contentedness, employee engagement looks at factors like commitment, motivation, and involvement. Satisfaction looks different to each individual. While one person may be satisfied to come to work, do the job, and go home, another may be bored and frustrated if he or she can’t effect change and make improvements to processes. The Addison Group found in one study that while 72% of workers surveyed indicated they were satisfied with their job, 60% were still looking for another job. Leadership must understand that while improving employee satisfaction may be a worthy goal it may not necessarily improve employee engagement or performance.

What Does Employee Engagement Look Like from the Employee’s Point of View?

When the employer is doing a good job of engaging team members, people simply don’t mind going to work, or at least not as much. Engaged employees:

  • Are excited about their duties
  • Feel a high level of empowerment which gives the confidence to explore new ways of doing things
  • Feel like an integral part of the team
  • Look forward to working together each day
  • Believe that the employer supports employee growth by supporting team members who want to learn more and grow beyond their current skill set or position

What Does Employee Engagement Look Like from the Employer’s Point of View?

When the workforce is engaged the employer sees:

  • Increased loyalty and lower turnover
  • Employees who are proud of their work
  • Team members who promote the company brand by talking about their work in the community in a positive way
  • Team members who use fewer sick days
  • Improved safety records and fewer workplace injuries
  • A reduced number of grievances and conflict
  • Increased productivity and better decision-making

Employers who know how to create an engaged workforce know that leadership doesn’t have a monopoly on great ideas, in fact, quite the opposite.  They listen when team members talk about ways to improve a service or a product, as the team is often closest to the problem they can clearly see possible solutions. Leaders committed to creating an engaged workforce also give credit where credit is due and recognize when a team member suggests a new and innovative idea. Companies with high employee engagement recover more quickly from setbacks, recessions and financial hardships.

How Do I Create a Culture of Employee Engagement?

Creating a culture of employee engagement requires some key factors.

  • Trust: To fully engage a team there must be mutual trust. This requires both being trustworthy and being trusting. Employees need to see and believe that the company will treat them fairly and with respect. Commitments made must be kept by both leaders and employees.
  • Integrity: It’s not enough for a company to say it believes in employee engagement. A company must live out this value in order for employees to accept it as part of the culture. Actions speak louder than words.
  • Communication: Highly engaged employees know what is going on within the company they work for, and that only happens with effective communication. The vision, goals, and activities undertaken to meet those goals must be clearly defined, communicated and understood. In addition, each member of the team must understand what is expected of them and how it impacts the overall picture. Regular constructive feedback is integral in effectively engaging your team members. It allows appreciation for their effort in a meaningful way. Though communication is essential for an engaged workforce, don’t think that means an elaborate or expensive communication system. Roughly 66% of workers between 18 and 34 reported being motivated by simple tools like team messaging and video meetings, according to RingCentral Glip.

If you’re looking for a concrete suggestion about where to start, consider an employee engagement survey to assess the current state of your efforts. This can serve as a quick knowledge check.  Note that this is different from an employee satisfaction survey. You can do an engagement survey any time as it is always helpful to have this information. If you plan on carrying out such a survey, communicate to your team ahead of time about what you are doing, why, and how you plan to use the information. Next, follow through, share the feedback and make the improvements indicated by the information you gather. As your team sees communication increase and actions taken as a result, it will fuel trust and engagement will grow. 

Overall, an engaged workforce is connected to the big picture, understands how what they do fits and is willing to support success in a variety of ways. Better results, improved retention, and reduced costs are some of the benefits of creating an engaged workforce. Let Etech help you get started by helping you with survey administration and analysis so you get the most out of the results.

This blog was published earlier on LinkedIn.