Owners and executives who run businesses all know employee engagement is important and should be a top priority for HR departments.
That being said, few people possess an understanding of why it’s such a critical issue and what it actually looks like in action. Not sold on how much employee engagement matters?
Here are some numbers you need to take a look at:
- 34 percent of American workers report feeling engaged at their jobs.
- 89 percent of employers believe employees leave for higher pay when only 12 percent of employees leave due to pay issues.
- 75 percent of people who voluntarily leave their jobs each year do so due to supervisor and employer conflicts, not job responsibilities.
- 90 percent of business leaders think they need an engagement strategy, but only 25 percent of them actually have one in place.
Clearly, this is a critical area of need for every corner of the business world.
Want to know more about employee engagement and what it can do for your organization? This guide to employee engagement will help you discover better ways to make employee engagement work for you and your organization.
What Is Employee Engagement?
The term itself is easily defined, but what it means to you versus the people who work for you can be worlds apart.
Employee engagement, according to the prevailing opinion, is the extent to which employees’ personal goals and interests coincide with the vision and objectives of the company where they work. Naturally, the more diverse your organization, the more complex your strategy will need to be, too.
There are many methods to developing the right strategy for your business, but every business is different, and there is significant conflicting information out there about what impacts employee engagement.
Let’s talk more about why better employee engagement is so important, and how it can impact your organization for better or worse.
Why Is Employee Engagement So Important?
Imagine, if you will, a typical office staffed by average office workers with designated titles and responsibilities.
Job expectations are clear, and the company has a clear plan and a vision for where they are and where they want to go as a business. There is an incentive system in place for exceptional work, and by and large, people get along with one another.
Despite the strong structure of your organization, clear expectations, and a vision, your employee turnover rate remains high.
HR fields more complaints about protocols and procedures.
Morale around the office is generally poor, and many employees are finding it hard to get motivated and be productive during the work week.
Everyone dreads annual review time.
How did things get this way?
The company did not develop and properly execute an employee engagement strategy.
They have all the right pieces they need to be productive and successful, but without a means of keeping employees engaged and showing them that their work matters, they are floundering, and few people stay for any length of time.
A recent study by Gallup on the State of The American Workplace actually reported that active employee disengagement annually costs companies in the U.S. anywhere from 450-550 billion dollars in productivity.
Employee engagement matters because it is the glue that keeps your company together and allows you to accomplish meaningful work on a daily and weekly basis. There are nine areas of employee engagement that need to be addressed in any organization, and how you approach each will determine your success or failure. Here they are, as well as why they matter:
Values & Purpose
Everyone needs a reason to do what they do.
The absence of purpose in one’s work and daily life only leads to misery and discontentment personally and professionally.
It’s up to you to inspire your people to aspire to your values and purpose.
The transition of information between individuals is of critical importance to employee well-being.
Without clear channels of communication regarding work, expectations and feedback, it is impossible to have a happy and productive workplace.
Health & Wellness
Employers and employees cannot afford to neglect personal health and wellness if they intend to progress and grow together.
Good health and wellness programs demonstrate how employees and their health come before the business using actions and not just words.
Every worker has the right to a safe workplace where they are not exposed to physical and mental hazards.
This includes cultivating an atmosphere of mutual respect and acceptance, not just reviewing safety procedures and OSHA protocols.
Your people need to know what it is they should do and why they do it.
If they don’t know, you need to find a means of making their role clearly defined to help them contribute effectively.
Relationships with Colleagues
Getting along well is important, but few employers offer training on how to get along in a professional capacity, as well as how to set appropriate professional boundaries with coworkers and supervisors.
Recognition and Incentives
Good work isn’t its own reward.
Sure, it’s rewarding to know you went above and beyond and contributed something extra, but that does not mean you don’t deserve compensation and celebration of your accomplishments by your peers and superiors.
If the people in middle management do not believe in the company values, goals and vision like the people at the top, then they are not going to inspire that belief and confidence in the rank and file.
Personal Growth and Development
Employees need to know you believe in them and their personal growth, not just their growth as a professional.
These nine categories are what you will focus on with your engagement strategy.
No business is exempt from the need for an employee engagement strategy, so let’s talk about some ways your business can take steps now to improve employee engagement.
Employee Engagement Strategies
No man or woman is an island, and as such, no one individual should try to develop an employee engagement strategy alone.
Your strategy needs to be co-developed with input from all stakeholders, particularly in HR and among the front-line employees.
That process is going to take time, but you can smooth the way for change by implementing the following strategies:
Conduct A “Self-Audit”
Time to send out some Surveys and get feedback from your people about what you are doing well and what needs improvement.
Change begins with leadership, but it is impossible to move towards progress without an understanding of where you are currently and how you can improve.
What Quick DIY Changes Can We Make?
Using the nine categories for employee engagement, what changes can you make as an organization on your own?
Before you hire outside services or integrate an employee engagement program using engagement data software, you want to look at current protocols and procedures you could alter now to improve engagement.
Chances are you can think of several things right away without waiting for surveys.
What Would You Like to See?
Spend some time with your HR people and management team to determine what your ideal engaged employee looks like.
How do they act?
What behaviors are part of their everyday life at work?
How do they interact with other members of their team and the company?
This is an important step for establishing metrics that you will use to determine the success of your employee engagement strategy.
Once you start changes at the strategic level, you are ready to start trying out some employee engagement activities.
Employee Engagement Activities
Need ideas for actionable ways employees can participate in engagement growth?
Turn Around A Bad Situation
Roleplay is generally how HR departments and trainers approach this activity, as it gives employees an opportunity to practice their skills at managing expectations and perspective to turn a bad situation at work around and still try to create the greatest benefit to themselves and the organization.
Improve A “Neutral” Situation
There is always room for growth, and it is important that employees see the neutral areas of their performance as the places where they have the greatest potential for growth. They are already meeting expectations.
Now they just need to stretch their wings and their reach a bit.
Next Level Employee Engagement
Activities in this category involve getting a personal commitment to change from employees, then holding them accountable for their efforts.
Reward participation and achievement generously, as it sets a positive precedent with every employee going forward.
Small Business Employee Engagement Software
An integral part of measuring employee engagement is tracking performance metrics over time.
Small and medium sized businesses often have a difficult time finding the right software package and parameters to measure as they implement an employee engagement strategy, but there are few options available for these organizations that make a worthwhile investment.
There are many software suites available, but too many offer features and options that small businesses would never use, further complicating the choice.
That’s why having a strategic HR partner in your corner can help make the right choice when it comes to strategy, implementation, and choosing the right tools for your organization to accomplish your goals effectively and efficiently.
Get Your Free HR Strategy Session
If you’re ready to take a proactive approach to improving your organization’s employee engagement efforts, this is the perfect next step.