What Is Employee Engagement and Why You Need It in Your Business

6 min read
Oct 28, 2016
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What is employee engagement

Companies and business leaders can look to all kind of KPIs and metrics to decide on the ‘next big thing’ to improve revenue. However, they often forget about one of the most fundamental ones: employee engagement.

Employee engagement is the thing that makes people shine when they work. It’s the thing that drives them to show up early and leave late because they’re having the time of their life when working.

Find out how to reach that kind of employer-employee relationship and learn how to stimulate employee engagement.

What is employee engagement

Employee engagement is the degree of commitment of employees to their work. To put it simply, this is how much they like their job.

Why you should bother? Employees who feel engaged with their work overtake others when it comes to productivity. People who don’t feel any kind of connection with their work will often show up late, leave early and generally put in less work than they could.

According to Tim Rutledge, the author of Getting Engaged: The New Workplace Loyalty, employee engagement is expressed in the following aspects:

Employees who are engaged care about their work and about the company. They want it to succeed and will do everything in their power to make that happen.

Why you need employee engagement

Employee engagement is key to productivity. Employees who are less engaged will be less productive. They arrive at 9, do what they are told to do and leave as soon as the clocks shows 5. Rinse and repeat.

When non-engaged employees do their work, they will more often focus on being busy instead of productive. They won’t question their approach, even if there is a more effective alternative out there. They won’t take the time to find out because the have no reason to.

There’s no room for creativity or innovation when working like this. It ends up being mindless repetition.

According to statistics by Gallup, this will end up costing the US companies a whole lot in lost productivity: from $450 billion to $550 billion! The same study also reports that only 30% of all workers feel engaged with what they are doing. Could you imagine that 70% of people in an average company doesn’t really care about their work?

Possibly the biggest loss a company will suffer due to poor employee engagement will come in the form of poor reviews and low customer satisfaction scores. After all, if customers deal with employees who don’t really care about their work, what other result can you expect?

How to increase employee engagement

To make any kind of change, an employer should first check what is the current state of employee engagement in the company. A simple survey where the employees are asked a few basic questions about their work and the company should do the trick.

Here’s an example of questions you can ask in the survey from the CEB blog.

Before doing any kind of surveys, it’s important to understand a couple of things:

A good survey every quarter can give you direction on what people want to see changed. When it comes to change, employers should aim to bring the employees on board, show them that they are cared for and include them in the decision process. This will not only allow a business to fix the most crucial problems but also empower employees, show that their opinions matter and that they too can shape the face of the company.

When it comes to involving employees, showing them that their jobs matter is also a good way to boosting employee engagement. Doing a job that doesn’t make any difference can burn out a person. Knowing that there’s some kind of goal, higher purpose for the task, no matter how dull or uninspiring it is, will completely change the way employees approach their work.

There’s this almost legendary example of amazing employee engagement involving president Kennedy and a NASA janitor. During his visit at NASA, Kennedy asked a janitor working there what is his job at the facility. The janitor simply answered “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” That kind of engagement can turn even the dullest tasks like cleaning into something very meaningful and important in the yes of employees.

Here’s a TED talk that takes a stab at the whole concept of work motivation and shows why we care about what we do:

The gist of the talk is: if your job has no meaning, you won’t want to do it. If you add meaning to your work, you won’t mind it even if it’s dull.

Another thing you can learn from the video is that employees want to have their work acknowledged by someone. This can mean simply letting know the employee that their work has been seen by someone.

You can go a step further by complimenting someone’s work. Giving out rewards and perks is even more powerful. No matter what form of acknowledgment is picked, it needs to happen. Without it, the motivation will be lower and lower with each task and each project.

Looking for more employee engagement methods? You definitely need to check out these 9 ideas for improving engagement.

What is the state of employee in your company?

Employees who are not engaged with their work will sooner or later turn into zombies. They will still, more or less, do their jobs. However, is ‘more or less’ enough in your business to make a difference?

What kind of employee engagement methods do you use in your business? Do you have any ways of combating employee burnout? Feel free to share in the comments section!