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4 ways to boost employee engagement
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4 ways to boost employee engagement
Employee engagement is the secret sauce to an organization’s success.
When employees feel a deep connection to the organization, their work, and their team, the business benefits. More importantly, employees are happy, feel a deep sense of belonging, and are more equipped to reach their full potential.
But creating that connection — and maintaining it — isn’t as easy as it seems.
We’ll talk about what defines employee engagement, why it’s important, and how your organization can start building a strategy that works.
Before we talk about how to engage your employees, let's take a minute to define employee engagement.
Employee engagement is the level of connection, involvement, and enthusiasm employees have. Employee engagement is how employees act, think, and feel about their work and workplace.
According to Gallup, 36% of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace. But globally, just 20% of employees are engaged. But even when we look at highly engaged employees, 1 in 5 is at risk of burnout.
But employee connection can be an ambiguous way to define employee engagement. There are a few components to what makes up employee engagement. Some elements include mental fitness, a sense of belonging, and professional development.
Cracking the employee engagement nut requires a deep understanding of what role it plays in your organization. Drilling into the data is a good place to start. We’ve outlined 7 reasons why employee engagement is a necessity for any organization.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that disengaged employees are more likely to leave your organization. Employee turnover is one of the biggest battles companies are facing today. Not only is it expensive and disruptive, it negatively impacts team morale.
Gallup also found in the data cited above new insights into disengaged workers. Of disengaged employees in 2021, 71% are looking for new jobs or watching for new opportunities.
With only 36% of the workforce engaged, that’s a massive number of workers on the cusp of leaving their organization.
In a time when resiliency is challenged by uncertainty, mental fitness is of strategic importance. First, it’s important to acknowledge where we’re starting from. Our data shows that 55% of employees are languishing, which is the absence of mental health.
But a workforce with strong mental fitness is possible. It takes an engaged, thriving workforce. And its benefits are unbeatable. We’ve found that employees who are thriving:
Productivity is one positive outcome of an engaged employee workforce. Research shows that engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity.
When employees are engaged, it’s likely they feel a deep sense of belonging. To be able to truly connect with their work and their workplace, employees need to feel included. They need to feel connected — and feel like their work matters.
We know from our data that when leaders are inclusive, it pays off. Inclusive leaders actually show a 150% increase in employee engagement.
In the context of building a thriving company culture, belonging and inclusivity should be at the top of any organization’s priority list. And even if your organization is remote, there are still plenty of opportunities for virtual team building.
As you might’ve guessed by now, increased employee engagement has a positive ripple effect across an organization. With employees more likely to stay, they become more productive and innovative.
When employees are maximizing their contributions to the company, the company’s performance only grows. Research shows that companies with engaged employees outperform companies with disengaged employees. The science backs it up — increased employee engagement leads to increased profitability.
This is an interesting positive outcome of increased employee engagement. Research has found that organizations with higher employee engagement report fewer safety incidents. In fact, engaged workforces reported 48% fewer safety incidents and 41% fewer patient safety incidents.
With increased employee engagement comes a safer, healthier workplace for all.
You might’ve heard the phrase, “happy employees means happy customers.” There’s science to back that up.
Data shows that companies in the top quartile of employee engagement have 10% higher customer ratings. Beyond ratings, one study found a benefit in the customer experience.
This study found that 79% of companies with engaged employees reported a better customer experience than companies that didn’t. When customers are happy, they’re more likely to stay loyal — and refer other customers to your business.
If you look closely, you might be able to spot examples of employee engagement in your organization. Let’s walk through a couple of good — and bad — examples to help.
It’s not uncommon to confuse employee engagement with employee satisfaction. But it’s critical to understand the differences between the two.
However, there is an overlap in similarities between employee engagement and employee satisfaction.
There’s no one right way to measure employee engagement. But, there are key tactics you should consider. Work with your HR professionals to ensure expectations, communication, and deliverables are clear.
While employee engagement may be driven by the HR arm of the company, it’s a company-wide owned effort. Every leader should assume responsibility for doing their part in engaging their employees.
Proactive, willing to go above and beyond to see the company succeed
Meeting the minimum requirements of their job (or needs to be pushed to do work)
Open, honest communication; feel psychologically safe to voice opinions or perspectives
Doesn’t speak; doesn’t communicate or shows withdrawal from conversation
Motivates and empowers other employees
Complains or brings other employees down
Shows up to help make the company better, an active participant and contributor to company goals
Models inclusive behaviors, cares deeply about the well-being of teammates and in turn, customers
Apathy or talk about not caring; does not model inclusivity and can seem ambivalent
There are a lot of key drivers of employee engagement. Let’s take a closer look at some of these elements. By implementingsome of these, you'll see better business outcomes.
Years ago, we might not have outlined purpose as a key element to employee engagement. But recently — especially in the wake of COVID-19 — we’re seeing purpose emerge as a key indicator to engagement.
McKinsey found that 2 out of 3 employees reported having reconsidered their purpose at work since the pandemic. Through survey data, BetterUp found that employees who feel a deep sense of purpose report higher job satisfaction.
With a sense of purpose, job satisfaction can lead to increased employee engagement. It improves performance, reduces absenteeism, and boosts employee retention.
It’s important for leaders to reiterate the purpose of their employees’ contributions. If employees can’t recognize the why behind their work, it’s likely you’re missing out on a big opportunity for engagement.
Employees need learning and development opportunities. Creating learning pathways leads to increased employee engagement levels. But from an employee perspective, it can also boost morale and allow autonomy.
We know a manager has an incredible influence over the employee experience. But in tandem with the employee experience, the manager also has influence over employee engagement.
Our data shows that inclusive leadership can be a game-changer for businesses and employees alike. In fact, we’ve found that employees are 50% more productive, 90% more innovative, and 150% more engaged when they have an inclusive leader. Inclusive leadership also results in 54% lower employee turnover.
Take a minute to reflect back on observed employee behaviors. Are your employees voicing their opinions and perspective? Are you providing safe places to provide feedback? Are you encouraging leaders to provide and receive feedback?
If not, it might be a sign that your workplace needs some help with psychological safety. Employees need to be able to feel safe to speak out. If there’s fear of retaliation, your employee engagement strategy won't be successful.
Consider ways you can build a culture of trust and belonging. Work with your HR leaders in building a psychologically safe workplace. Increased psychological safety means increased employee engagement.
Now that we’ve looked at key drivers that impact employee engagement, here are four ways you can increase your team’s engagement.
Having clear, relatable company values gives your employees something to connect to. Just as these values drive the business forward and help leadership make decisions, they can also give employees direction. When everyone is driving toward the same goals by the same values, you foster a culture of unity and collaboration.
As we mentioned earlier, team building is a valuable tool, especially in remote and hybrid environments. It can be difficult for some team members to connect with each other across screens. So facilitating this connection can help individuals feel a sense of belonging and be more tied to the company’s overall mission.
Toiling away day after day without recognition can be exhausting. Try keeping your employees motivated and engaged by showing your appreciation for their work. There’s no need to wait until the next review cycle. You can thank an employee via public announcements in meetings or over Slack, or more privately in small team meetings or messages. Whichever method you choose, be sure to be specific and genuine with your feedback.
An effective onboarding strategy leaves new employees feeling inspired and equipped to bring their best efforts to work. Ensuring each member of your team has access to the tools and resources they need to succeed is crucial. It helps employees feel valued, empowered, and engaged. Each of these qualities feeds into employee retention.
Employee engagement is a company-wide responsibility. While everyone plays a role in engaging employees, two key leadership groups play a significant role.
Managers play a big role in the employee engagement strategy. We’ve outlined three key responsibilities managers need to help increase employee engagement.
Consider offering your managers access to personalized coaching. With one-on-one coaching, you can empower your managers to build the skills they need to foster a thriving workforce.
HR has a vested interest in designing and executing a stellar employee engagement plan. Your HR professionals will likely put together the infrastructure for a strategy.
You might consider your HR team to be the “hub” of the employee engagement strategy. From there, your leaders and managers are the “spokes.”
You might also consider things like clubs, social hours, or volunteer opportunities. These social activities (with purpose) can help connect employees to the company.
By now, you might have a good idea of what approach you’d like to take to engage your employees. Before you dive in, consider this step-by-step implementation list.
So, let’s say you’ve implemented some new programs and initiatives to help improve employee engagement. But when you re-surveyed your employees, you’re not seeing much of a change in survey results.
What do you do? You pivot.
It’s important to stay agile when things aren’t going as planned. This will look different for every program and initiative but at its heart, it’s about listening to employees.
Consider asking yourselves these questions.
Have you gathered candid feedback from your managers and employees? Is your company culture psychologically safe and inclusive? Are you providing professional development opportunities? Can you listen better to your team members? Is there an opportunity to improve work relationships?
Sometimes, it takes help from outside the organization. Personalized coaching has proven hugely beneficial to employee engagement. Consider ways you can provide your employees access to coaching resources.
If you want better employee performance, better business outcomes, and a better bottom line, it's time to make a change.
With your company's mission top of mind, how can you help employees reach their fullest potential? In what ways can you implement employee engagement ideas to help foster a thriving workforce?
To truly empower human transformation at scale, consider coaching. With personalized coaching, employees are more likely to be productive, engaged, and innovative. You’ll also actively build mental fitness, resiliency, and innovation.
Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.