If you Google the phrase “definition of employee engagement” then you’ll come up with thousands of ideas about what employee engagement is. For example:
“The emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” Kevin Kruse, Forbes Contributor and NY Times Best Selling Author
“An emergent and working condition as a positive cognitive, emotional, and behavioral state directed toward organizational outcomes.” Michael Shuck and Karen Wallard
“The art of getting people to believe what you want them to believe.” Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat
“A business management concept that describes the level of enthusiasm and dedication a worker feels toward his/her job. Engaged employees care about their work and about the performance of the company, and feel that their efforts make a difference.” Investopedia
“Emotional connection an employee feels toward his or her employment organization, which tends to influence his or her behaviors and level of effort in work-related activities.” Business Dictionary
“The illusive force that motivates employees to higher (or lower) levels of performance.” Workforce Performance Solutions
There is no wrong answer, and the answer is as probably as individual as your organisation. Which one do you like?
Two things employee engagement is not is employee happiness or employee satisfaction. So perhaps rather than think about what is employee engagement, we should think about and focus on what drives employee engagement.
What drives employee engagement?
Research for Bersin by Deloitte and published by Deloitte University Press identified five elements that drive employee engagement:
Ensuring that there is a job-person fit helps ensure that your employees are engaged in work that is meaningful to them. This can involve giving them the tools and the decision-making power to succeed. Research also shows that meaningful work is more likely to take place in small teams and where employees are given the time to think, create and rest.
Management means the daily management undertaken by managers rather than leaders. Managers need to be clear on the team and individual goals, communicate clearly, be open and honest, and support and coach their employees to achieve their objectives and their career goals.
Positive work environment
There are many factors in creating a positive work environment. These factors include a culture that embraces continuous and on-going recognition, office design and relaxation areas, flexible working policies, and a culture where open and honest discussions can be had, and employees feel listened to and respected.
Organisations need to give employees opportunities to develop their skills, knowledge and career if they want high employee engagement levels. HR teams and managers need to work together to identify opportunities for employees to move around the organisation, through secondments or project teams, where they can learn new skills and knowledge. Mentoring and coaching programmes should also be implemented and managers rewarded for developing their people.
Trust in leadership
The leadership need to be able to communicate a strong sense of purpose and vision to their employees. It is through their communications, their words, that employees are inspired to go the extra mile to achieve the company’s vision. The leadership team also needs to be transparent and honest with their employees.
HR professionals and senior leaders understand the importance of employee engagement and getting it right can have a significant positive impact on your business. That is why HR and leadership teams need to focus on the employee and provide them with meaningful work, managers who coach and mentor, a positive working environment, opportunities to develop their career and ensure that the leadership team communicate a clear vision and purpose.