Does employee engagement really matter?

Employee engagement breeds successIn difficult economic times, people will often take any job they’re able to get. They don’t consider whether or not the job enables them to take a step towards fulfilling their long term career goals, nor whether the position matches their skill set and character.

Now add into the equation employers who believe that employees should be grateful for simply having a job, and the wrong people in managerial roles then it’s no wonder that employees often feel that employers are only looking out for themselves and employees are there to do a job and get paid.

In these situations the company has failed to engage with it’s employees, who subsequently have no motivation to do anything other than the basic requirements of the role they are being paid for.

But if the job is getting done satisfactorily, does employee engagement really matter?

Actually yes, it does… a lot!


Engagement breeds success

In 2012 Gallup conducted a substantial survey on the impact of higher employee engagement in businesses. The study surveyed nearly 50,000 businesses which included around 1.5 million staff in 34 nations. It found that businesses who were rated for employee engagement in the top half had twice the odds of business success than those businesses whose employee engagement scores put them in the bottom half. In addition, the study found that those businesses in the 99th percentile of employee engagement have four times the chances of businesses success.

Did you know?

The bottom line of low employee engagement is estimated to cost the U.S. economy roughly $370 billion a year.



The 2012 Gallup survey is in its eighth year, and the results of each of the surveys have remained consistent throughout that time. Each one shows that high employee engagement is crucial to business success. And it’s not just about increasing employee productivity as the results from Gallup show, high employee engagement impacts other areas of the business:

  • 37% lower absenteeism
  • 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 41% fewer patient safety incidents
  • 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 21% higher productivity
  • 22% higher profitability

There’s no doubt that these figures are impressive and of course any senior management team would love to see such improvement in their organisation.


Fostering engagement – creating a culture that leads to results

Engagement comes from a wide range of different factors, all contributing to the overall success of a business. By managing these factors (or drivers) organisations can improve overall levels of engagement. Such drivers include:

  • Knowledge of the business’ strategy and goals
  • Business culture and behaviours
  • Communication
  • Timely feedback on performance
  • Recognition and rewards
  • Relationships with managers and colleagues
  • Career development opportunities

Engagement driversAccording to research by YouForce, conducted in March 2013, the top drivers of employee engagement are corporate culture and recognition, followed closely by career progression and opportunities for learning and training.

It’s essential to understand the role of recognition and reward schemes as a simple and effective way of increasing employee engagement in most companies.


True employee engagement

However, true employee engagement can only occur when employers care about the employees and employees want to help the business succeed. Any engagement initiative cannot simply be a tick box exercise. It needs to start with a business culture that fosters engagement, and carry on down through managers that have an engaging style of leadership, before moulding employees that are eager to invest more time and effort into helping the business succeed.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

Connect with John on  | Twitter


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