What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement means different things in different organisations, for example organisations may define engagement with regards to:
- Job satisfaction
- Employee loyalty
- Behaviours displayed by employees whilst at work
I believe employee engagement is a combination of all of these. It’s about having employees who are satisfied in their roles and in the organisation which means they contribute to the business goals, such as productivity. Because of this they also display loyalty to the business as well as the values and behaviours related to the organisation’s culture.
Why does employee engagement matter?
We’ve all heard the joke about the CEO who was asked how many people worked in his business. “Oh, about half of them,” he replied.
People are the most important asset to a business; not its products or services, not even its CEO. Businesses have highly engaged employees have significantly better business outcomes:
- Increase productivity
- Higher profits
- Increased earnings per share
- Improved employee loyalty
- Higher customer loyalty
Avoiding the abyss
According to the ‘Blessing White Employee Engagement Report Update 2013’ one in four (40 percent) of employees in North America and India are engaged, closely followed by Australia/New Zealand and South America on 37 percent. However in Europe this figure is just 31 percent and has essentially remained flat since 2011.
If you’re trapped in an employee engagement abyss, that lonely place where you know how important engagement is, yet creating a highly engaged workforce seems impossible, then here are five ways to create an environment where engagement flourishes.
1. Create and communicate a clear set of company values and behaviour
Employees who know the company values and behaviours and understand them are 30 times more likely to be fully engaged. (Source: Modern Survey, National Employee Engagement Study)
Pro-tip: Make your company values part of every piece of communication, both internal and external. Keep referring to them and make sure senior management talk about them on a regular basis.
2. Managers need to recognise and appreciate employees
People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers. Only 52 percent of employees think their immediate manager appreciates and recognises good work. (Source: Towers Watson, Turbocharging Employee Engagement)
Pro-tip: Provide training for managers on how to make employee engagement and appreciation part of their everyday activities.
3. Publicly recognise employees who demonstrate the company core values and behaviours
Recognition schemes are responsible for 10% to 20% differences in productivity, revenue and thousands of loyal customers to most large organisations. (Source: 12: The Elements of Great Managing)
Pro-tip: Create a recognition and reward scheme that publicly recognises employees and is open to all, whatever their pay grade.
4. Support career path development
54 percent of employees say that the organisation’s commitment to professional development is a key element in making them engaged. (Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2011 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey)
Pro-tip: Have a formal mentoring programme for all employees that helps all employees develop their career goals and connect with other employees.
5. Provide platforms for positivity
62 percent of employees who have recognised or said thank you to colleagues are describe themselves as highly engaged. (Source: 2013 Globoforce Workplace MoodTracker Survey)
Pro-tip: Use internal social media platforms such as British Gas’ Simply Thank You programme to create a powerful and positive culture of appreciation.
Engaged employees aren’t just committed, productive or passionate employees. They believe in the organisation, they believe that they can help the company they work for achieve its goals and by doing so they can also achieve their own personal career goals. And in turbulent economic times engaged employees can make the difference between winning and losing.
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.