Employee Engagement: What, Why and How to Improve It

Employee engagement: it can be the difference between success and failure as a business.

Picture this scenario: you have a customer service call centre in your business…

Operative A: “Of course Mr Jones, I’ll see how we can rectify this situation for you”

Operative B: “That problem is beyond my pay grade”.

One provides the customer with a positive experience, hope, and belief the situation will be resolved. The other shuns responsibility, and likely turns the customer away for ever.

Despite this being a very obvious example, the scenario can be applied to almost any white-collar job type. And the outcome will always be contextually the same. The biggest problem here? Often the business has no idea of worker disengagement.

how important is employee engagement

Today, I’m going to run you through workforce engagement and its power for your business. And we’ll look at strategies you can adopt to boost the engagement levels of your workforce.

What is Employee Engagement?

Deloitte defines employee engagement as:

Engagement [..] refers to an employee’s job satisfaction, loyalty, and inclination to expend discretionary effort toward organisational goals.

Workers needs to feel that the environment is setup for them to give their best, each and every day. Sound like a big ask? It’s not. Especially not when you know how to monitor engagement levels of all workers: contingent and permanent.

Why is Employee Engagement Important?

It’s important because it can have a direct impact on the performance of your business.

Employee engagement is easy to ignore, and assuming your talent are engaged and productive is dangerous. This scenario presents threatening – and avoidable – consequences. These include:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Increase in sick and other types of employee leave
  • Increase in employee turnover
  • Loss of workforce vibrancy and creativity (workers stop caring)
  • Underperforming results
  • Increased cost of doing business
  • Collaboration typically takes a hit
  • Drop in employee input
  • A declining company culture
  • Poor motivation leads to a loss in worker growth and development (talent stagnates)
  • Costly – and avoidable – mistakes are made

… and there are many more.

Disengagement typically presents in one of two ways:

  1. The actively disengaged: employees are unhappy and spread their dissatisfaction widely
  2. Those who are not engaged: this is the biggest category of disengagement. These workers have no attachment to the business, their job or the company mission. They perform to the absolute minimum of their job spec

It’s easy to see how important employee engagement is to the successful operation of your business.

3 How to Improve Talent Engagement

These are topline suggestions, but they’re proven and worthy of your attention:

  1. Authenticity: without alerting the ‘woke’ brigade, authenticity is critical. Employees that see business leadership living the mission and values of the business, instils trust, respect and can be inspirational. Simply placing your company values on your website isn’t enough. Walk the talk, every day.
  2. Onboarding really IS important: first impressions count. And your new employees or contractors will embark on their time with your business with that impression in mind. Make it a good one.
  3. Provide regular, realistic and deserved recognition and reward schemes for the entire working population (and refer again, to point 1 here!)
  4. Offer vocational training and development: helping workers to execute their roles at peak performance is a proven engagement tool. It’s also a win-win for your business, and your workers.
  5. Actively manage career succession: your talent needs to feel that you’re there to help them grow, whilst they help your business grow. Learn about career goals. Share new openings in the business. ‘Partner’ with your people.
  6. Work healthy: encourage healthy working habits. These include regular work breaks, consistent holidays, a comfortable working environment, and in-office perks (like fruit, mineral water, drinks on Fridays). Encourage work-life balance (again, walk the talk here) and place a priority on everyone’s wellbeing.
  7. Conduct regular employee engagement surveys: measuring engagement is the first step to improving it. Getting a lens on current state engagement, offers a roadmap to its improvement.
  8. Check in, often: sounds simple (and it is), but it’s incredibly powerful. Spontaneous, regular talent check-ins make for a great bond between manager and worker. Make these check-ins meaningful.

Employee engagement principles must be a part of your overall operations. Not a last-minute, nice-to-have. By entrenching a quality culture that genuinely cares about people and listens to them, your business will become a powerhouse of engaged and productive talent.

I found this useful article from PwC about engaging employees during turbulent times. It’s definitely worth a read. And as always, if you’d like to discuss employee engagement with me, you can catch me here.