A Guide to Employee Engagement

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is a fundamental concept in the effort to understand and describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the nature of the relationship between an organization and its employees (Wikipedia, 2021) 

Employee engagement is about having a clear understanding of one’s role in an organisation, and being focused and energised on where it fits into the company’s objectives. When an organisation has a strategic employee engagement plan in place, the company comes together and works in a fluid and synchronized manner. 

 Employee engagement is about being included fully as a member of the team, feeling trusted, aligned clearly with company goals, supported in developing new skills, and recognised and rewarded for achievements.  

What is the purpose of employee engagement?

A study from the University of Warwick reveals “Happy and engaged staff are 12% more productive, while unhappy staff are 10% less productive (Thriveglobal.com, 2018).  

The importance of implementing an employee engagement programme within a company is sometimes overlooked. A company that has the correct employee engagement tools in place can ripe many benefits including reducing staff turnover, improving productivity, retaining customers at a higher rate, and overall making more profits for an organisation. 

Research shows that engaged and healthy employees are, on average, up to 30 days more productive and likely to give greater company loyalty to employers who demonstrate an interest in their wellbeing (Independent, 2018) 

What does an engaged employee look like?

An “engaged employee” is defined as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so, takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests. An engaged employee has a positive attitude towards the organization and its values.[1] 

Implementing a successful employee engagement strategy can be difficult. Knowing how your workforce is feeling and recognising any issues they may be experiencing, is not always straightforward. Every employee differs, so factors that affect engagement will vary among organisations. To increase engagement in an organisation, leaders need to first identify the reasons for disengagement.  

Organisations that research employee engagement categorize employees based on the employee’s level of engagement, but they have used different terminology in doing so. For example, engaged and less than fully engaged employees have been described as follows:

  • Gallup distinguishes between employees who are “actively engaged” (loyal and productive), “not engaged” (average performers) and “actively disengaged” (ROAD warriors, or “retired on active duty”).
  • Sibson Consulting differentiates “engaged” employees (those who know what to do and want to do it) from “disengaged” employees (those who don’t know what to do and don’t want to do it), “enthusiasts” (those who want to do the work but don’t know how to do it) and “renegades” (those who know what to do but do not want to do it).

Disengaged employees often feel no connection to their jobs and do not give their full effort or commitment to their role within the organisation. Disengagement can show itself in many ways including an unwillingness to learn, socialise with colleagues, unenthusiastic in their work and drag down office morale.

Some behaviors of engaged and disengaged employees:

Engaged behaviorsDisengaged behaviors
Positive attitude Negative attitude
Team-orientedSelf-centered
Determined Deflated
SelflessEgocentric
Passion for learning Unmotivated

What are examples of employee engagement?

1. A company fitness challenge 

A company fitness challenge increases engagement as employees has a common goal and something that they both want to succeed at. It increases communication throughout the company and makes the employees feel they are part of something which in turn helps with increasing engagement levels within the company. The challenge helps to create a sense of community within an organisation and there is a shared goal among the workforces.

Company fitness challenge is designed to engage employees and get your team interacting with each other to build on their relationships. The challenge helps you team to maintain and build upon their relationships. This helps the atmosphere in the office to be more fun and help build on trust and communication among the company.

2.  Workplace Wellbeing Champions

Dedicating a network of workplace champions who are responsible for organising and promoting employee engagement activities and initiatives among the oranisation can help drive employee engagement, 

spreading the benefits of the programme across different departments, can help towards promotion, communication and more importantly, engagement. Workplace champion tasks should be allowed to be carried out during working hours as this will achieve greater buy-in and ensure that the allocated roles are being fulfilled.

3.  Create personal development plans – for everyone

Development and growth are the foundation of every career. When employees think they’ve gotten everything they can out of their role, they detach themselves from their job and start to look for new challenges elsewhere. Ensuring employees feel that they are constantly learning and growing within their roles, is fundamental for employee engagement. 

Providing a roadmap with clear instructions on how each employee can reach their goals is a fantastic employee engagement tool that every organisation can implement. There are many ways this can be achieved, some of which include offering a learning budget, allowing employees to avail of courses or time for personal development during work. By investing in career growth and development for your employees, you are investing in employee engagement, which has a positive knock-on effect on the whole organisation. 

How do you build employee engagement?

Implementing the correct tools and employee engagement resources into an organisation is crucial to building a strong foundation for engagement throughout a company. To build employee engagement, we need to understand what makes our employees engaged in the first place? In other words, what qualifies the relationship between an organisation and its employees?

1. Strong Manager and employee relationship 

It has been stated many times that the relationship between manager and employee is the most important driver for employee engagement.

Communication is the key to any successful relationship and is no different for the relationship between manager and employee. Many employees may not feel comfortable discussing certain issues with their managers, so companies need to ensure there is a tool in place to facilitate this barrier.

According to a study carried out by Gallup, “employees who feel as though their manager is invested in them as people are more likely to be engaged” Allowing employees to open honestly about various wellbeing initiatives in their work, will allow for this to happen

2. Allow for employee feedback 

Actively listening to employee feedback is another major factor in ensuring your employees are engaged. When employees feel that their opinions are given serious consideration, it automatically creates a more engaged workforce. If employees are having any issues at work and they pluck up the courage to discuss this, these issues should be handled and resolved by management. Actively listening to and acting on employee feedback is important to creating an engaged workforce. Everyone communicates differently and may only feel comfortable relaying feedback in a privately.

It is so important to respond and act on the feedback that your employees give you. By acknowledging employees’ feedback and opinions on things they feel passionate about in work, will encourage more suggestions and improve engagement throughout the organisation. 

3. Opportunity for growth 

Employees need to acquire a sense of purpose and satisfaction in their job for them to be engaged. One of the main reasons why employees leave their jobs is to seek growth opportunities. An employee having an understanding and knowledge of their professional and personal growth is one of the top factors that affect engagement. 

Through the research carried out by Zevo Health “47% of respondents stated that access to training and development is an impactful aspect in keeping them in their current role” When employees feel unsatisfied in their jobs and feel like there is no room to progress, they tend to be less engaged. When managers are not aware that their employees are not satisfied or are under the impression that there is no room for growth in their job roles, this can result in less engagement or worse case scenarios, led to the employee moving to another organisation. 

Conclusion

Engaged employees create a positive company culture that results in a company being more successful. When a company has a strong culture of engagement, it creates a sense of community among the organisation. Employee morale increases as there is a shared vision among the workforce. Ensuring the culture of a company is aligned with the organisations systems, procedures, strategy and management is crucial. According to research carried out by Gallup in 2017, 67% of employees feel more engaged when the right, cooperative management is in place” (GetBambu.com, 2018) When employees value and respect the culture they work in, it brings employers and employees closer together which contributes to the bottom line of a company.

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