The most successful organizations have the most dedicated employees—many going above and beyond their required work for the company’s benefit.
The secret to highly productive and satisfied employees is engagement. The more engaged employees are, the more likely they will produce better results for the business, allowing it to grow to its potential.
We’ll talk about the following areas of consideration:
Employee engagement pertains to how involved and committed workers are to the holistic success of the organization. An engaged employee will extend beyond their work description because they actually believe in what the company is doing and the value of their work.
The key to employee engagement is purpose. Without purpose, workers won’t have a genuine connection to their work and will lack the necessary drive and ambition to go above and beyond for the organization.
Employee engagement isn’t just about paying workers above market value or having office snack bars and coffee stations. It goes beyond money and any other tangible benefit you can think of—engagement is all about emotion, passion, and the impulse to push forward every single day.
Employee engagement and employee satisfaction are often mistaken for each other. After all, aren’t satisfied employees engaged employees? Not at all.
With employee satisfaction, workers are merely satisfied with their work and the workplace. They don’t have any complaints and will largely do a good job within billable office hours. But satisfied workers do not necessarily have emotional ties to the business. This means they will only do so much as they are compensated for—which is a fair sentiment but lacking if you’re going for authentic engagement. Satisfied employees are willing to be pirated by another company if it means higher compensation and benefits, all because they lack investment in the work of the organization.
Now, that doesn’t mean those workers are bad! It just means they have other priorities beyond emotional connection to their job. But there’s something your organization can do about it. With proper employee engagement strategies, you’ll be able to capitalize on your employees’ maximum potential and outperform industry competitors.
|Will work beyond what is necessary for the good of the organization
|Will do the necessary tasks within the required hours
|Has an emotional investment in the company’s success
|Mainly connected to the company because of compensation and benefits
|Loves the organization and would like to see it grow and flourish—doing whatever is in their power to achieve company goals.
|Happy with the way things are but not necessarily invested in company growth
Frankly speaking, employee engagement is a lot of work. It takes money, resources, and time, and many small businesses may be wondering if it’s actually necessary for the workplace.
If you want to consistently improve business metrics through increased profitability, lower employee turnover, and better customer retention, then yes, employee engagement is necessary.
Although a business could survive without it, an organizational system of workers that don’t believe in their work does not leave much room for growth.
According to some reports, the optimal employee turnover rests at around 10%, although most companies will see upwards of 12% on a regular basis.
One of the first benefits of implementing employee engagement strategies is reduced staff turnover. Hiring and training employees can cost a lot of time and money, and if your company goes through people faster than you can generate value from their talent, you’re doing something wrong.
Workers are the lifeblood of an organization, and ensuring they feel connected to their work will make them more likely to stay. If an individual is committed to the ideas behind an organization, they are less likely to seek better opportunities elsewhere.
Reducing staff turnover does the following:
Engaged employees tend to exert more effort to ensure clients are satisfied. Depending on your line of work, this could be anything from better sales performance and customer service to behind-the-scenes work like client-focused product development.
More satisfied customers mean better business, thanks to increased customer loyalty and support. If your clients are satisfied, they’re also more likely to spread the word about the quality of your products or services—and as recent marketing trends have clearly shown, word of mouth remains a powerful marketing tool even in the Internet age.
Engaged employees are ready to put in more effort to ensure that the organization runs smoothly. In many cases, this translates to more productivity in the workplace thanks to increasingly efficient operations.
If you have workers that care, their actions will parallel how they work and do business.
When you employ robust employee engagement strategies, you are also promoting better company culture. By making sure your employees feel valued and ensuring they understand the merit of their contributions, you are building on a workplace culture that promotes growth for all.
Great workplace culture is fantastic because you get to see collaboration occur across the organization in so many ways. When workers help each other, everyone sees the collective effort necessary to achieve positive business results and will emulate this behavior throughout operations.
Of course, with all internal improvements come external benefits as well. Organizations that invest in engaged employees see as much as a 21% increase in profitability, facilitating improved business results.
As workers perform better and customers are more satisfied with your company’s services, you are bound to see a positive uptick in business metrics.
Parallel to the improvement in business results is the enhancement of your company’s financial outcomes. Increased employee engagement will translate to better sales, more efficient cash flow, and improved utilization of your assets.
You’ll see changes in the following areas and more:
Employee engagement can often seem like an abstract concept, but while it does require creative thinking, you need a solid, actionable strategy to ensure the success of your plan.
Your strategy depends on the following factors:
Once you’ve considered these factors, you can choose to focus on key areas of the organization. This can include compensation and benefit plans, work-life balance, established communication strategies throughout the organization, career opportunities, trust, and transparency, among others.
To focus your energy best, focus on only a few key areas at a time. If you approach all areas simultaneously, you might end up biting off more than you can chew.
Once you’ve chosen these key areas, you can properly implement employee engagement strategies across business operations.
Now that we understand the value of employee engagement let’s go into all the techniques you can use to increase your workers’ connection to your business.
All organizations that do well have a solid set of core values ingrained in every business process, whether it’s back-end work or customer-facing scenarios.
Emphasizing and upholding your company’s core values ensures that all workers understand the ideals the organization strives to abide by. Core values can vary from company to company, but it’s crucial to take a holistic approach when it comes to developing core ideals.
This is where the value of tone at the top really becomes apparent. Suppose upper management sets a great example and promotes the company’s values. In that case, this will trickle down to the entire workforce, creating an environment that supports the company’s core ideals.
Transparency is a valuable aspect of trust. And as we’ve established, trust is incredibly crucial to employee engagement.
Your workers need to know what’s happening in the company, so they feel more connected to their work. In bigger organizations, workers tend only to see select areas of responsibility, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
However, upper management should still make it a point to consistently keep employees up-to-date about current company events, changes, and transitions in business. Of course, you can still be discreet about what needs to be kept silent, but just make sure your workers feel like they are part of a bigger whole.
For this, you can use:
Trust is important in any organization. With hierarchies occurring naturally in any enterprise, it’s crucial to make all employees feel valued and important regardless of their level. Employees need to know that they will be listened to and their ideas are taken note of.
If employees are trusted to do their job well and are given the autonomy to do so, they won’t feel micromanaged, and you will quickly see productivity rise throughout the organization. Think about it: creativity naturally flows if you are left to your own devices, and you’re more likely to come up with innovative business solutions.
But it isn’t just about individual work. If workers trust each other and are willing to collaborate, you will obtain a pool of much stronger ideas than what you’d have with employees who feel unheard or irrelevant.
One of the biggest mistakes any organization can make is viewing development through a myopic lens. If you see employee engagement from just a single point of view, you’ll quickly miss out on essential details.
When boosting employee engagement, you have to focus on the small details as well as the greater picture. This can mean:
Employees highly value when they feel their needs are being met, so addressing both the minor and major aspects of employment is a must.
Everybody likes receiving credit for the work they do. Without proper recognition, it can feel like what you are doing is for naught.
To build truly engaged employees, you need to show them that their work and contributions are worth something. You need to recognize excellence where it is due and even compensate for the effort in some scenarios.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should always give awards or accolades for the good work workers do, as this is not a sustainable solution. Sometimes, it’s enough to casually recognize their work in front of the team or even just make an effort to personally acknowledge it.
Making sure middle management understands this is also crucial to developing employee engagement through performance recognition. If managers and supervisors know the value of acknowledgment, these actions will be better applied throughout the organization.
If you aren’t intentional about carving out a solid career path for your employees, then you might find yourself with a high employee turnover rate. Many people enter companies with the intention of gaining experience and then job hopping to obtain a senior role—this is precisely what you can avoid if you boost employee engagement.
According to a LinkedIn Learning Report, up to 94% of employees say they would remain longer in a company that invests in their career growth.
Making sure your employees have a place to move up in the company gives them more incentive to stay and reap the benefits of their efforts. If they feel like getting promoted will take too much time, they might not give their best effort during their stay.
If you want to boost employee engagement, you must let your employees know that in-house career growth is possible.
Work experience is important, that’s for sure. But you should also invest time and effort in upskilling your workforce. Offering learning opportunities to your employees signals that you are committed to honing their talents and skills, which in turn will boost morale and motivation.
Learning opportunities can come in the form of:
Teamwork is vital for smooth and efficient business operations. Employees rely on each other for support and assistance when it comes to doing their jobs. Many engaged employees often willingly take on extra work—but as incredible as this may seem, it can also negatively impact team relations in the workplace.
Seeing someone doing above and beyond can make other employees feel like they have room to slow down because someone else is already doing so much of the work. But the truth is, even engaged employees have a limit. We can’t expect them to work above what is necessary all the time because it simply isn’t sustainable.
To address this, there must be balance within team dynamics, and everyone has to be accountable for their roles. Nevertheless, as you encourage employee engagement, you’ll also see improved teamwork, workplace dynamics, and employee productivity.
It’s a significant challenge to enhance employee engagement without proper measurement metrics in place. In the words of Peter Drucker, “You can’t improve what you can’t measure.”
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when measuring employee engagement in your organization. Depending on what your company does and what industry you work in, employees might have different needs to become engaged.
Here are some ways to check in on your workforce and improve overall engagement.
Engagement surveys are the primary way you can measure employee engagement in your organization. They are typically given annually or quarterly, but quarterly assessments yield more accurate insights into the current employee engagement landscape.
These surveys focus on different areas of the organization and can be structured in different ways. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some areas of interest you can include in an engagement survey:
The questions asked in an engagement survey must align with the organization’s defined areas of interest. Questions can come in various formats and weights. Make sure to implement a combination of approaches in your survey to generate more dynamic results.
Scaled Questions. This type of question is used when you want to answer a question with a rating. For instance, your survey may include the question: “On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least, how satisfied are you with the company coffee station?”
Polar Questions. Otherwise called yes-no questions, these queries are best for broad concerns that can be answered by an affirmative or negative. For example: “Would you recommend working at [the company] to a friend or family member?”
Exploratory Questions. Open-ended questions are meant to take a deeper dive into the qualitative characteristics of an employee’s survey. This type of question yields the most valuable insight, although it is also the most challenging type to review.
Engagement surveys usually take upward of 10 minutes, which is why they are not given out with frequency.
Regardless of what questions you want to put in your company’s engagement survey, just make sure they address employee concerns and hit the key areas you are interested in measuring.
Pulse surveys have a similar intent to engagement surveys in that they are given to measure employee engagement and overall satisfaction. However, pulse surveys are generally shorter and can be completed in just a couple of minutes.
These surveys are typically given after specific announcements, activities, or any other relevant initiatives going on at a point in time. Pulse surveys tend to be more specific and measure employee engagement in the context of certain events (e.g., going back to in-office work).
Pulse surveys generally have anywhere between 1-10 questions, although some could be a bit longer than that. However, note that the main characteristic of a pulse survey is that it’s concise, so don’t try to cram too many questions in a single one.
For example, you might find the following questions in a pulse survey:
Turnover rates and employee absenteeism can be good indications of how engaged your organization’s employees are. After all, engaged employees are those who show up to work consistently for the long term.
However, these metrics tend to be less valuable indicators than surveys because of the time factor. It takes time to gather data for turnover and absenteeism rates, so by the time you collect the data, the information’s accuracy may no longer be optimal.
Overall, there’s no one way to measure employee engagement in your company. The optimal approach would be to combine different metrics to create a more high-power picture of how engaged your employees actually are.
Improving employee engagement across your organization is by no means an easy task. There are plenty of factors to consider with limited time and budget. Take note of these tips to stay on top of your engagement game.
If you believe in your company, it can be tempting to dream up grand plans for how to create the best possible working environment. But the reality is far more complex than what we have time for.
Whenever you’re implementing employee engagement strategies, always go back to the basics and be realistic about what you can do—consider your budget and set the time frame for your desired changes.
If you set realistic goals for yourself, you will feel more empowered in your ability to make the company a better place for your employees.
Another way you can improve your implementation of employee engagement strategies is by setting clear plans for the goals you want to achieve. For instance, your goals may look like the following:
Your goals depend on the degree of engagement you want to achieve, but creating numerical, tangible metrics is an excellent way to benchmark progress.
When you have your goals out in the open like this, it will be easier to draft actionable plans to achieve them.
No matter how much you prepare or how well you’ve planned out your strategies, there’s always going to be the chance that you’ll bump into some hiccups along the road. Whenever problems occur, just keep an open mind.
If you accept that things are bound to go awry at one point or another, you are opening yourself up to the idea of flexibility.
Being flexible is a vital characteristic to have as a leader, and it means you’re open to new ideas, innovation, and learning as you go.
While engagement activities are meant for employees, upper management still has a role to play in ensuring employees are engaged in their work. Setting the right tone at the top is crucial to attaining engagement goals and enhancing the workplace for all.
If upper management sets a good example of valuing the business beyond just its monetary value, employees have a great precedent for becoming more involved in the company.
Implementing proper employee engagement strategies is difficult, to say the least. But the effort, time, and resources put into ensuring employees feel valued have plenty of downstream benefits for your organization. We wish you the best of luck!