What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is a measure of how committed and involved an employee is at work, and is a key part of the employee’s relationship with the organization they work for. The number one driver of engagement is when an employee feels like their manager and leaders care about them.
But engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction, which is a measure of how content an employee is at work and with their organization. This term has become a common area of interest for organizations as it relates to many other important factors to business success, including employee retention, productivity, and even workplace safety.
Why Employee Engagement Matters
Employee engagement is important for many reasons. Unfortunately, most organizations misunderstand its importance and focus solely on engagement when they should also focus on things like employee access, employee experience, and employee satisfaction. These three other factors are key influences on how engaged an employee is at work.
But employee engagement matters because it indicates when an employee is actively engaged in their work or workplace culture. Although it is equally as important to focus on an employee’s job performance, engaged employees also actively participate in company culture and help drive culture. Research from Gallup has also shown that it is tied to many other critical business outcomes that clearly demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of increased engagement.
Gallup Research on Employee Engagement
Gallup has conducted extensive research on this topic and its impacts on a company. In Gallup’s Employee Engagement Meta-Analysis, they found that when engagement improves, this results in improved employee performance. They found that better engagement led to 41% lower absenteeism, 17% higher productivity, 58% fewer patient safety incidents, and 70% fewer safety incidents. Improved employee experience also leads to an increase in quality with 40% fewer defects and 10% higher customer ratings. Employee engagement is positively correlated with profit as well with 21% higher profitability and 20% higher sales when employees are engaged. And highly engaged employees turnover less often.
How Do You Measure Employee Engagement?
Measuring employee engagement is often a difficult task because there are many different definitions of what it is. Many organizations use an annual employee engagement survey to measure engagement. These surveys are often composed of questions that help the organization measure eNPS (or employee net promoter score), employee satisfaction, and employee commitment to the organization.
But there are more ways to measure engagement. Many internal communications professionals will track engagement on internal messages. This includes tracking likes, comments, social shares, and general channel usage (e.g. logins and session duration). This helps understand which employees are using tools regularly and who are willing to go out of their way to engage on a message. That said, just because an employee doesn’t engage with content does not necessarily mean they are disengaged employees. Measuring content engagement is just one input that can be analyzed when assessing employee engagement.
How Do You Improve Employee Engagement?
Improving staff engagement requires a strategy that looks beyond vanity metrics like content engagement. To improve this metric, you have to do more than improve content quality. A common trend in the workplace is to look to improve culture and engage employees with things like pool tables, events, or other workplace perks. But the truth is, that improving engagement requires holistically improving the employee experience. Here’s why.
When you improve employee experience, you increase employee satisfaction. When employees are satisfied and have a supportive, inclusive, and positive work experience, employee engagement will go up.
So, how do you improve the employee experience? It starts with an employee listening strategy to collect employee feedback through things like employee surveys or focus groups. We also recommend measuring regularly and conducting employee engagement surveys to keep a finger on the pulse at your organization. To improve employee experience, you need to go beyond wants like fun workplace perks and focus on employee needs. What tools or information are they lacking to get their jobs done? Are their managers effective communicators and coaches? Are you providing them with a basic living wage and benefits package? Do employees feel connected to one another and respected? Tackling some of these basic needs are key to improving both employee experience and engagement.
How is Employee Engagement Tied to Employee Experience?
Employee engagement is intrinsically linked to employee experience. If employee experience is poor at your organization, it is likely that engagement will also be low.
Employee Engagement Trends
Employee engagement has remained fairly consistent over the last decade. Thirty years ago, 70% of employees were not engaged at work. In 2019, that number had barely changed; 69% of employees were actively disengaged.
During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic, however, we did see some slight increases in engagement. Despite some gains in workplace engagement, there are additional challenges we tracked in 2020. With 61% of American workers working remotely full time in 2020, this increased the need for connection, collaboration, and communication. And we see these same wants and needs among the deskless workforce.
To increase these three key areas of an employee’s experience will require a strong partnership between internal communications and human resources. It will also require a need to improve frontline manager communication by helping them to conduct daily or weekly team huddles (also called: team standups, pre-shift meetings, post-shift meetings). And internal communications professionals will need to focus on focus groups to keep a finger on the pulse of the employee body.
Another key employee engagement trend will be the importance of senior leaders to be transparent, authentic, and open. And this will create a great opportunity for internal communications professionals to demonstrate to executive leadership that they are strategic advisors.
And last, one of the biggest trends is the importance of building an amazing workplace culture. Often high performing employees churn because of dysfunctional cultures and poor management, and great cultures attract top talent.
How Effective Communication Boosts Employee Engagement
When an organization has effective internal communication, there is a positive impact on employee engagement. This is because an all-inclusive communication strategy gives all employees access to the information they need to do their job and feel supported. Without access to communication, or the ability to comment or provide feedback, it is difficult for employees to feel included and, therefore, to engage.
How Does theEMPLOYEEapp Help Improve Employee Engagement?
theEMPLOYEEapp improves employee engagement by giving all employees—from the office to the frontline—access to communication, resources, and senior leadership.
Our mobile internal communications app also gives administrators the ability to target and personalize content to specific employee groups, which makes content more relevant to the intended audience. When content is more relevant, an employee will feel more included and important to the organization, in addition to feeling like the organization understands their role, their needs, and their wants.
theEMPLOYEEapp also is set up with many ways to engage, including likes, comments, social sharing, survey integrations, an employee directory, and a calendar. This gives employees a way to ask questions, provide feedback, get in touch with the right people or departments, and participate in company events.
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