Introduction to Employee Engagement
In the United States, actively disengaged employees account for $550 billion in lost productivity annually. Improving employee engagement is essential for businesses to succeed.
What is Employee Engagement
In order for business professionals to improve employee engagement, they must define it. Employee engagement is the emotional connection that employees feel towards their workplace. Employee engagement influences essentially every business outcome, ranging from revenue to customer service.
For this reason, it is incredibly important for employers to understand their employee engagement level and to actively strive to improve it whenever possible. 71% of managers rate employee engagement as one of the most important factors for business success.
However, only 33% of employees report they are engaged at work. Improvements in employee engagement will positively affect all aspects of your business operations and bottom line.
While a highly engaged employee has the potential to greatly improve your organization an actively disengaged employee can do much damage. There is a wide range of behaviors and actions to analyze when understanding your employee engagement level.
Types of Employee Engagement
Measuring employee engagement can be challenging but is necessary for developing an employee engagement strategy. There are four main categories that employees fall into-
1. Highly engaged- These are high performing individuals who have positive opinions about their workplace. They come into work every day and are often the employees who you would consider higher level or your top talent.
Highly engaged employees make sure to promote customer satisfaction and company culture. Highly engaged employees have the potential to positively influence others and bring up your entire employee engagement level.
An engaged employee makes a great team leader and brand advocate. They are already likely the first employee to take action and get started on tough projects. Make sure to give this employee recognition and consider using them as a benchmark when measuring employee engagement.
2. Moderately engaged- Engaged employees account for 15% of the workforce. Moderately engaged employees should be a target for you when attempting to improve employee engagement level. These employees usually have a concern or issue that prevents them from engaging fully.
Consider implementing an engagement survey to get these employees feedback. Make sure to also give employee recognition on good work to encourage them to increase their performance.
3. Barely engaged- Disengaged employees account for 67% of the workforce. Barely engaged employees do the bare minimum, or less, to keep their positions. These employees are at a high risk of employee turnover and may even be actively searching for other job opportunities.
Perhaps these employees are not a good fit for your company culture, especially if they are actively disengaged. Consider requesting feedback from these employees to learn more about every day employee experience.
4. Disengaged- Actively disengaged employees account for 18% of the workforce. These employees do not enjoy working at your company. A disengaged employee may feel disconnected from company culture and dislike their work environment.
It is important that employers know how to identify disengaged employees and how to take action to prevent a disengaged employee from negatively affecting their business's entire employee engagement level.
Why Employee Engagement Matters
As stated before, managers rate employee engagement as one of the key indicators of business success. Actively disengaged employees cost businesses by increasing hiring costs and lowering employee retention.
Instead of doing the bare minimum to keep their employment status, engaged employees go above and beyond. Human resource leaders should focus on improving employee engagement to boost employee retention.
By investing in an employee engagement strategy, you are directly investing in your workplace productivity. Improving employee engagement reflects in 22% higher productivity and increases profits by $2,400 per employee per year.
Highly engaged employees are less likely to make safety-related mistakes, which could be not only damaging to your business's reputation but could potentially even bring legal consequences. Businesses that have higher levels of employee engagement report having 48% fewer safety incidents and 41% fewer quality incidents.
How to Measure Employee Engagement
In order to improve your employee engagement level, you must understand how to measure employee engagement. However, many business executives struggle to quantify employee engagement into measurable units.
Ultimately, to measure your employee engagement levels, you should define what an engaged employee looks like to you. Are you more focused on employee happiness or perhaps their level of dedication? It may be helpful to ask questions when establishing an employee engagement strategy, such as-
1. Is employee engagement about satisfaction level?
2. Is it about energy levels?
3. Is it about dedication?
4. Is it about meaningfulness?
5. Or, is it about a combination of the above factors?
When employers can define what employee engagement looks like to their specific business, then they can more accurately measure employee engagement. The less abstract your definition is, the better you will be able to measure and improve employee engagement levels.
There are three main methods to measure employee engagement-
1. Using an employee engagement survey from a third-party- Traditionally, this approach is undertaken every 1-2 years. While an established third-party provider can help manage the workload of measuring employee engagement, there are also a number of downsides.
Downsides include the cost, which can range anywhere from the low $10,000s up, depending on your company size. Additionally, questions are usually very formatted and are not specific to your industry and its nuances.
Another downside is that many third-party companies are hesitant to share specific data which can create issues if you would like to analyze employee engagement historically. So while you are able to outsource a lot of the harder work, you also lose a lot of control over the employee engagement measurement process.
2. Measuring employee engagement internally- There are many upsides and downsides of performing your own employee engagement survey. Some upsides include saving money, ability to personalize questions, and easy access to historical data.
Downsides include a lot of internal labor, potential issues with using employee engagement analyzing software, and unintentionally asking the wrong questions. Analyzing the pros and cons of both internal and external employee engagement surveys can be stressful, but it has motivated business leaders to find a hybrid solution.
3. A combination of the above methods- To mitigate the downsides of both internal and external employee engagement surveys, you can use a combination of the two. A way that employers do this is through pulse surveys which provide continuous feedback with fewer questions.
The most important factors to consider when administering an employee engagement survey are the composition of satisfactory questions, proper preparation of the questionnaire, and securing a high response rate. Make sure to do your best, as you only have one try to ask certain questions without invalidating the response through a repetitive question.
Key Factors for Employee Engagement
There are four key factors for employee engagement that businesses can hone in on to most effectively improve employee engagement levels. These factors include-
1. Leadership- Leaders should be trustworthy, driven, and promote top talent to thrive. In order to do so, leaders themselves must be highly engaged and high performing employees. These leaders should be on a higher level of engagement and dedication to making every employee feel motivated and happy every day.
2. Line manager engagement- Make sure your line supervisors are actively engaged and modeling a positive example for your employees. Dedication to customer satisfaction and requesting consistent feedback are top indicators of a highly engaged line manager.
3. Validated employees- Employees who feel they are listened to and validated are much happier in the workplace. There are many methods employers can use to help their employees feel validated, ranging from coaching to individual one-on-one conversations.
4. Integrity- Make sure your actions line up with your intentions. Core values, mission statements, and memos from higher management should match up with their direct actions. Integrity, transparency, and trust are indispensable to establishing an organization of highly engaged employees.
Employee Engagement and Employee Satisfaction
It is important for employers to understand the difference between employee engagement and employee satisfaction. While employee satisfaction measures how happy or content employees are in their roles, it does not reflect commitment or motivation. In other words, employee satisfaction does not reflect an employee's engagement level.
Improvements to employee satisfaction do not necessarily translate into improvements in employee performance. For example, some employees are satisfied cashing a paycheck and performing the bare minimum to keep their position.
Actively engaged employees may feel resentful and discouraged when they see actively disengaged or moderately engaged employees collect the same paycheck as they do. For this reason, employee satisfaction must be carefully differentiated with employee engagement for employers to improve employee engagement in the workplace.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
There are many ways that businesses can improve employee engagement. One method is to make sure that your employees can confidently say the following and have them ring true-
1. I possess the training and resources to excel in my role.
2. I understand my role responsibilities and expectations.
3. I am incentivized and recognized for my good work.
4. I have trust in my leadership.
5. I understand my company mission and values, as well as how I contribute towards them.
6. I am provided with opportunities to grow personally and professionally in my role.
7. I have the opportunity to perform to the best of my ability every day in my role.
Additional methods for improving employee engagement include-
1. Proper role designation- Recruiting top talent and placing them in the proper roles is essential to improving employee engagement.
2. Provide training- Make sure your employees understand their roles and are given the resources to properly perform in them.
3. Give meaningful tasks- Highly engaged employees crave meaningful objectives and work. Top talent will leave if they are not feeling engaged or sufficiently valued in their roles.
4. Consistently check-in- Provide opportunities for regular feedback and make sure you implement that feedback appropriately. Experts recommend checking in with employees weekly both informally and formally.
5. Have conversations about employee engagement- Consider implementing state of engagement meetings and provide opportunities for all employees to give their feedback.
Make sure that your employees not only understand the concept of employee engagement but also provide them with the opportunity to help improve your business's overall employee engagement culture!
- Actively disengaged employees account for $550 billion in lost productivity annually in the United States.
- Employers find increasing employee engagement important to increasing bottom line profitability. Improved employee engagement results in 22% higher productivity and profit increases of $2,400 per employee per year.
- In order to increase employee engagement it is important to understand the different levels- highly engaged, moderately engaged, barely engaged, and disengaged.
- An engaged worker has the potential to contribute to an engagement organization company culture.
- Effective performance management should strive to keep every employee engaged and provide them with ideal work life balance levels.
- There are many ways to gauge employee engagement levels including engagement idea requests or consistent employee survey administered. When developing your employee survey make sure that each survey question is given much attention to avoid nulling your results.
- Each organization employee should not only be given an annual survey but given opportunities to contribute feedback regularly.
- Improving employee engagement is a best practice business technique. Four key best practice factors for employee engagement are leadership, line manager engagement, employee validation, and integrity.