Employee engagement is one of the best indicators for organizational success. Engaged organizations are more productive, more innovative, and more financially successful than their less engaged counterparts—and if you want to take your business to the next level, focusing on employee engagement is one of the best ways to drive results.
But what, exactly, is employee engagement? Why is it so important? And how can you make sure that the people you hire are engaged with their work and your organization—and take your business to new levels of success in the process?
What is employee engagement?
First things first—before diving into why employee engagement is important, let’s quickly cover what employee engagement is.
Employee engagement is...well, exactly what it sounds like. Engaged employees are actively engaged with their work, their team, and their organization. They have high levels of employee satisfaction, feel challenged in their role, and feel like the work they do every day is valued, respected, and appreciated.
Basically, engaged employees show up to work excited to be there—and that excitement can have some seriously positive effects on your business.
So, what are some of those positive effects?
Why is employee engagement important?
There are a huge variety of reasons why focusing on employee engagement should be a priority in your business, including:
Engaged employees perform better
Arguably the most positive impact employee engagement has on your business? Engaged employees perform far better than their disengaged coworkers.
According to 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace Report, engaged employees are 17 percent more productive, have 41 percent lower absenteeism, and have 10 percent higher customer satisfaction metrics than disengaged employees.
And when your employees perform better, your business performs better. Companies with engaged employees outperform competitors with a less engaged workforce by a whopping 202 percent.
Employee engagement = employee retention
Another reason employee engagement is so important? Higher employee engagement drives higher employee retention.
According to Gallup’s 2017 report, engaged employees had 59 percent lower turnover rates in organizations with a low to average turnover rate. And even in organizations with a high rate of employee turnover, engaged employees were more likely to stay in their roles, with a 24 percent lower turnover rate than disengaged employees.
Engaged employees are also less likely to look for new jobs. According to Gallup, 73 percent of actively disengaged employees are looking for jobs or watching for opportunities—compared to just 37 percent of engaged employees.
Employee engagement can have a ripple effect
The positive impact of engaged employees goes beyond performance or retention metrics; an engaged employee can also have a positive effect on their coworkers.
Engaged employees are, by definition, engaged with what they’re doing. They’re excited by their work, committed to their role and organization, and go above and beyond to do their best.
That kind of positive attitude and commitment to excellence can have a ripple effect on your other employees. When other employees partner with someone who is truly engaged with their job, their engagement can feel infectious—and that employee can become inspired to look for more ways to engage with their role as well.
Disengaged employees can negatively impact your bottom line
Just like engaged employees can have a positive impact on your business, disengaged employees can have a negative impact—especially when it comes to finances.
According to a recent Gallup report, disengaged workers cost the United States between $483 billion and $605 billion in lost productivity every year. So, by focusing on increasing engagement across your organization, you can not only improve your employee experience and drive performance, but you can also save your company some serious productivity costs.
Clearly, employee engagement is an essential part of building a thriving organization. But how, exactly, can you increase employee engagement levels within your company?
How to drive employee engagement within your organization
Ready to build an engaged workforce? Here are a few steps you can take to build an employee engagement strategy to drive employee engagement within your organization:
Set your employees up for engagement from the get-go
You want your employees to feel engaged from the very beginning, which means making sure your new hires are set up for a successful, engaging employee experience from the get-go.
And that all starts with your onboarding process.
Improving your onboarding process can have a serious impact on employee engagement. According to SilkRoad’s 2017 State of Talent Report, more than half of human resources professionals surveyed (53 percent) reported an increase in employee engagement levels when they focused on improving their onboarding process.
Take a look at your onboarding process and see how you can adjust it to drive higher levels of engagement in the long-term. So, for example, you might realize your new hires feel rushed through the onboarding process and aren’t fully prepared. In that case, you might consider extending your onboarding or adding additional training to make sure your employees feel like they’re set up for success when they transition into their role. Or you could take a more proactive approach to onboarding, asking your new hires what their long-term goals are within their role and the organization—and then offering ways to help them hit those goals (for example, assigning them a mentor that has the title or career trajectory they’re aspiring to).
The point is, your onboarding process sets the tone for an employee’s experience with your company—and if you want them to be engaged, you need to make sure your onboarding process supports employee engagement
Ask your employees what they need to feel more engaged
If you want to know what your employees need to feel more engaged at work, why not just ask them?
Giving your employees an employee engagement survey each quarter is a great way to gauge their current levels of engagement—and what steps you can take as an organization to create a more engaging experience for them.
The questions you ask on your survey will, ultimately, depend on your organization, your team, and the information you need to drive employee engagement. But some general questions you may want to consider include:
On a scale of 1 to 10, how engaged do you feel at work every day?
Do you feel challenged in your role?
Do you feel like your work has a purpose?
Do you feel like your work contributes to the success of the organization?
Do you feel recognized for your work?
What are some improvements leadership could make to help you feel more engaged at work?
Once you’ve collected your employee engagement surveys—and this is the important part—use your employees’ answers to drive your employee engagement strategies and make the changes necessary to make them feel more engaged. If your team takes the time to give you thoughtful insights into their experience and how you can improve your organization—and then, nothing changes? It can be extremely discouraging—and the survey can ultimately actually make your employees feel less engaged, not more.
Focus on all aspects of employee engagement
Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report breaks down employees’ developmental needs into four different categories:
Personal growth needs
And if you truly want to drive employee engagement within your organization, you need to address all four categories.
So, for example, an employee might love working with their team (teamwork needs)—but if they don’t have a proper workstation or understand what’s expected of them (basic needs), they’re not going to feel engaged with their job. Or maybe an employee feels recognized for their work (individual needs) and is energized by their team (teamwork needs), but doesn’t feel like they’ve had the opportunity to expand their role or learn new things (personal growth needs). Eventually, that employee is going to feel stagnant—and engagement levels will drop as a result.
Bottom line? There’s no silver bullet or single solution to improving employee engagement. If you want your employees to feel fully engaged with their work, their role, and your organization, you need to make moves to support their needs across the board: basic, individual, teamwork, and personal growth.
An engaged workforce is an essential part of a successful business
If you want your business to succeed, you need a team of engaged employees. And now that you understand the importance of employee engagement and how to drive engagement within your organization, you have everything you need to keep your team engaged in the long-term—and take your business to the next level in the process.