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What is & How to Improve Employee Engagement in the Workplace

Employee engagement serves a number of benefits to businesses. In fact, having productive employees can be the difference between succeeding over your competitors or crumbling to them.

Many businesses find keep tabs on employee productivity and engagement to be challenging. After all, having difficult conversations with employees and monitoring employee engagement statistics are just two elements of successfully ensuring employees remain engaged.

However, certain strategies can be implemented to make employee engagement simpler to understand and improve. This article covers the factors that contribute to high levels of employee engagement and possible employee engagement initiatives you can begin taking.

Employee Engagement Ideas, Strategies & How to Improve

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What is Employee Engagement? – Definition & Meaning

Employee engagement is often confused with employee satisfaction. While the two terms do have some overlap, engagement is not synonymous with pleasure, passion, or satisfaction.

While employee satisfaction focuses solely on job satisfaction, engagement goes a step further than that. Engagement takes into consideration the employee’s level of motivation, productivity, and commitment (emotionally, socially, and physically) employees have to their work.

Emotional commitment involves employees truly caring about their work, and not simply coming to work for a paycheck.

What is Employee Engagement – Definition & Meaning

Engaged individuals work toward the business’s common goal, have deeper commitments to their job, and embody their company’s core values.

Employees use discretionary effort when they are engaged. This means they are willing to go the extra mile for their company, even without being asked.

Such employees see their own success as being directly tied to the business’s success, so they work hard to ensure both they and their team as a whole perform the best they possibly can.

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Employee Engagement – Why is Critically Important & List of 10 Benefits

The entire organization, from newly recruited associates to C-Level executives, benefit from having engaged and satisfied employees. Many businesses have huge peaks in revenue when they start to invest in their employee’s engagement.

A large number of business professionals now recognize engaged employee populations do not simply correlate with success, but rather, they are the root cause of success.

Some businesses thrive solely because their only competitive advantage is high team performance as a result of high engagement rates. Yet, there are even more reasons to invest in employee engagement.

Here is a list of 10 benefits of employee engagement:

  1. Increased employee wellbeing; better physical and mental employee health.
  2. A boost in employee happiness.
  3. Improved employee satisfaction scores.
  4. Stricter work attendance and lowered absenteeism. Specifically, reports cite an up to 41% drop in absenteeism
  5. Higher employee retention rates and reduced employee turnover.
  6. Increase in the organizational level of loyalty.
  7. Higher quality customer service.
  8. More productive employees.
  9. Boost in revenue of up to 20%.
  10. Higher profit margins.

Employee Engagement – Strategies & Ideas

Every business should have a unique, tailored approach to improving its engagement with current employees. However, a few strategies are universally recognized as effective for almost any industry or business.

The following is a list of the top data-backed employee engagement strategies you can start implementing today.

Employee Engagement Surveys

Successful organizations consistently collect data to measure how effectively they are currently implementing their strategies.

Surveys can be a helpful tool when accessing how well your business is meeting its engagement goals.

Employee feedback can be used as a tool to find new ways to identify gaps in engagement you may have otherwise never known existed.

You will be able to see where your team needs help, where you are excelling, and how you are performing over time.

Recognize Employees for Their Effort

To attract the best talent and retain a cohesive team, you will need to create a competitive and transparent compensation structure. Employees hate when their managers ignore their effort and talent.

Instead, try to recognize when employees go above and beyond. Let them know you see them working hard and their effort is valued at your company.

Show you appreciate their effort through either financial bonuses or non-financial rewards, such as an extra paid day off or a shout-out.

Promote Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Within the Workforce

Ensuring all employees have access to company materials, hiring diverse team members, and giving everyone an equal voice over their future are key elements to building long-lasting and engaged employees.

This is especially true with younger productive employees, who value when businesses include DEI as a part of their company culture. A recent report found that 83% of millennials are actively engaged if they believe they work in an inclusive workplace.

Offer Career Growth Opportunities

Satisfied Employees are more likely to stay engaged if they understand the company’s mission and the path forward, as well as the role they play in the business’s success.

This includes investing in professional employee development opportunities, offering mentorship programs, and promoting current employees after displaying their interest in the company’s success.

Investing in your employee’s future not only makes them more engaged in the present, but it also makes employees more interested in staying with your company long-term.

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Employee Engagement – List of Examples With Pros & Cons

Status plays a key role in determining engagement rates with employees. Disengaged employees often have reasons for their disengagement, and usually stems from dissatisfaction and employee apathy toward a business’s mission.

Here are a few employee engagement ideas which target the core drivers of engagement:

Giving Adequate Resources and Making Employees Comfortable

Sometimes, employees are disengaged because they do not have the right tools to work with or they simply feel uncomfortable at work.

Ensuring they have access to all the materials they need, employees begin to enjoy their work more and productivity soars. If this need is not met, employees make dislike their work experience and lose their drive to achieve organizational goals.

Provide Fair Compensation

Effective managers understand the importance of proper employee compensation based on employee performance.

Employees often feel taken advantage of if they are not paid fairly, thus leading to internal employee competition or higher turnover. If you do pay your workers fairly, employees are more committed to their work.

Give Employees Power Over Their Futures

Employees need to have some amount of control over their future for their work to be worthwhile and meaningful.

Otherwise, employees begin to feel helpless and their productivity will suffer, as they are always looking for others to take action instead of taking initiative themselves.

Employee Engagement – List of Examples With Pros & Cons

Understand the Power of Teamwork

Ensure your employees are collaborating and that everyone has access to company/department communication channels. When this is done, employees freely speak with one another and they are more motivated to achieve the organization’s goals.

If no teamwork is present, the risk of tensions and conflicts rises and managers may have to spend more time mitigating conflict rather than improving customer experience or removing barriers to professional growth.

Levels of Employee Engagement

There is usually a hierarchy of employee engagement levels within a workplace.

In general, employees can be classified into one of four engagement levels.

Highly Engaged Employees

These employees truly enjoy coming to work and have a positive outlook on their job. They feel a bond with their team members, develop passion and motivation, as well as generally maintain positive feelings toward their colleagues and managers.

These individuals are also the most likely to stick with a company long-term, due to their emotional commitment to the business’s success. Often, highly engaged employees go so far as to even engage and motivate those around them.

Moderately Engaged Employees

A moderate engagement level indicates an employee likes their job and moderately positive views toward their employer/manager. While they do like the company, they can also be critical and see flaws clearer than highly engaged individuals.

Moderately engaged employees rarely seek out additional employee experiences, meaning they may not reach their full potential. Something holds these employees back from fully committing to their job.

Barely Engaged Employees

Barely engaged employees do not have a strong opinion about their employer. In fact, they may not care for their employers at all. This type of employee goes to work mainly for the paycheck.

The purpose behind such an individual’s work is to do the bare minimum to get paid, and they are not invested in the company’s goals or mission. This engagement subcategory is often associated with high turnover rates, as barely engaged people could be researching other jobs.

Disengaged Employees

Disengaged employees dislike their work and employer. They do not care about the organization’s values, mission, or goals. Also, these individuals are at the highest risk of leaving the business as they are not committed to the company at all.

Likely, disengagement will occur when employees are truly ready to move on to another job opportunity or when they realize a business is not the right fit for their lifestyle or value structure.

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Employee Engagement – How to Improve

No matter how engaged you may think your employees are, there is always room for improvement. Start by optimizing your employee onboarding process.

Onboarding is the employee experience with your brand, so ensure you make your values clear. Specifically, mention the role employees will play within the organization.

Ensure recruits understand what makes you unique, what makes the culture appealing, and so on so they have a reason to resonate with the company. Rewarding employees play a critical role in retaining their top performers.

No employee wants to feel ignored by their manager, but they do love feeling appreciated and recognized. When someone goes above and beyond for the business, state that you see their effort.

Consider giving them some sort of reward, either monetarily or not. Healthy workplace habits can also improve an employee’s engagement levels. Allow your employees to take breaks, as this will lead to more productivity over time. It also lets employees know you care about their wellbeing.

Ensuring the office is comfortable for employees eliminates one of the top potential causes of disengagement. Employees are also more engaged when they are personally invested in their employer’s mission.

To get your employees emotionally invested, you must first explain your values, mission, and long-term goals to your workers. Ensure that your actions as a leader align with those goals and values.

By being clear with what matters to you, employees are more likely to become enthusiastic about coming to work each day (especially if the company’s mission resonates with them).

Employee Engagement – How to Improve

Employee Engagement – How to Measure Progress

The most common way to measure employee engagement efforts is by asking your employees directly through surveys. Such surveys measure satisfaction, contribution rates, motivation, and other factors which contribute to a business’s task force overall engagement rate.

To truly make these surveys meaningful, they should be tracked over time to assess for improvement and compared against similar competitor’s engagement. The surveys do not have to be lengthy.

In fact, they can only be a short questionnaire, but you will not get much insight into the root causes of disengagement if your surveys contain very few questions. Without knowing the details, taking action to boost engagement can be challenging.

To get a deeper insight into engagement, use extra effort to form 50-80 question surveys, which should cover more than just one area of engagement. Open-ended questions are a great way to gain insight into specific issues within your team.

Also, consider performing performance reviews on your employees. Coupled with the surveys, such direct reports will give you specific data on employee productivity, which can an indicator of engagement.

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Employee Engagement Outcomes – Business Case

Many businesses experience increased sales, better customer satisfaction, and more positivity when their employees become engaged. You may be curious about the specific statistics and case studies that prove this point.

Here are just a few examples of employee engagement contributing to business flourishing:

Business Case #1: Increased Productivity

Your employees are ultimately the key drivers for your success.

When trying to find ways to improve your business, keep in mind that 92% of executives believe that an engaged employee will perform better than moderately engaged or disengaged individuals.

This boost in productivity directly contributes to higher revenue and ultimately higher profits.

Employee Engagement Outcomes – Business Case

Business Case #2: Happier and Healthier Workforce

Reports continue to find that employee levels of engagement have a strong link with improved mental and physical health in employees.

For example, 70% fewer safety incidents occur with engaged employees. This means employees avoid physical harm and businesses avoid excessive repair costs simply by increasing engagement.

Business Case #3: Less Absenteeism and Decreased Turnover

Employees are less likely to leave your business if they have strong positive bonds to it. 

When high-turnover businesses implement strategies to boost engagement, they report 25% lower turnover, and low-turnover organizations report 65% lower turnover.

Overall, this will lead to businesses achieving their goals and people fulfilling their career desires.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Employee Engagement

How Does Employee Engagement Impacts Employee, Team, and Business Success?

Engagement impacts not just individual employees, but it also has a major impact within departments or entire organizations. Engagement levels affect an organization’s motivation and how well employees are able to achieve their goals.

One unmotivated individual can cause others to adopt a similar mindset, thus stalling entire teams. Also, high levels of engagement can benefit businesses by raising revenue and profit levels. It increases the business’s overall competitiveness and makes goal achievement more attainable.

What are the Disadvantages of Employee Engagement?

The only true disadvantage to employee engagement is that it takes time for professional development.

Sometimes, extremely disengaged employees will react inappropriately to engagement training as well, but this is simply a sign to fire such employees.

In the long term, investing in employee engagement strategies has far more benefits than potential risks.

What are fun Employee Engagement Activities?

There are a plethora of fun employee engagement activities you can have your team partake in.

Some of these activities include team building events, employee games or competitions, recognition events/awards ceremonies, job-training/professional employee development, learning lunches, or workplace parties.

It can be any activity that makes an employee more emotionally connected to their work and employer.

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