Employee Engagement – The WHATs, WHYs, and HOWs

employee engagement methods

The absence of a strong sense of purpose is driving a high number of employees away from their workplaces. HR Analytics and advisory company, Gallup calls this an “Employee Engagement Crisis”. This Employee Engagement Crisis impacts 51% of disengaged workers in the US. Employee engagement is a latent phenomenon with many divergent definitions and opinions from industry leaders and HR Tech analysts.

Employee Engagement can be defined as:

  1. “A business management concept that describes the level of enthusiasm and dedication a worker feels toward his/her job. Engaged employees care about their work and about the performance of the company, and feel that their efforts make a difference.” Investopedia
  2. “Emotional connection an employee feels toward his or her employment organization, which tends to influence his or her behaviors and level of effort in work-related activities.” Business Dictionary
  3. “The emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. Kevin Kruse, Forbes contributor

In a holistic way, being engaged makes them caring towards their work and performance while being devoted to the ultimate goal of the company. It is a property of the relationship between employees and a company wherein passionate employees work wholeheartedly to make a difference. It is not about mere paychecks, happiness, satisfaction, and annual surveys at the workplace. It can rather be understood as an internal state of mind; mentally, physically, and emotionally that binds together the commitment, efforts, well-being, and satisfaction of an employee.

This should also be fixed in mind that parts of the workforce are unfairly excluded from experiences and opportunities for which they are qualified owing to bias in the system. As per Jonn-Mark Sabel from HireVue, “Age, ethnicity, gender, weight, and even hair color can play a role in personal assessments of candidates and employees and influence the decision to hire, fire, and promote in the workplace. “ Appropriate employee engagement activities can help assess these circumstances if arising in the organization so that the management can look into preventing them.

Why is Employee Engagement Important?

The importance of engaging employees is being recognized by various research conducted worldwide. Companies are investing considerably in tailor-made employee engagement programs for the betterment of their workers and the company. But why are they doing so? Here are some of the benefits of engaging employees in the right way:

  • Increase in motivation and productivity: Engaged employees are more motivated to work towards their goals than those who are not. Not only are they more active and productive in whatever they do, but they also inspire and motivate their colleagues to work similarly. This also results in an increase in the overall profit of the company. Even then, 22% of companies reviewed by Deloitte reported they had poor programs to manage employee engagements or no program at all.
  • Ownership and innovation: With motivation, job satisfaction, and proper recognition, employees tend to take ownership of their tasks and try harder to attain their targets smartly. There is an open room for experiments which engaged employees to utilize to come up with innovative solutions.
  • Higher loyalty and retention rates: In an environment where employees are given freedom to work in their styles and have a say in important matters, they feel valued. It is obvious they will be devoted to the company. More and more staff members being loyal to an organization impacts the employee retention rate to a large extent as such professionals stay in the company for longer periods than usual. It costs 100% of an employee’s salary to hire and train his/her replacement and almost a year is spent in properly onboarding and training the new hire to be fully productive. There is no reason you shouldn’t think about engaging and retaining your current employees when you still have time.

Also Read: What is HCM Software?

Signals and Tools for Employee Engagement Measurement

Employee engagement is a complex and constantly evolving idea that can be tracked, measured, and improved over time. But engagement data, if not linked with critical indicators such as performance ratings, promotions, resignations, etc., may not be worth much. A municipal organization spent $150,000 on an employee engagement survey and got impressive results and reports, but there was one problem: Nobody knew what to do with the engagement results! Visier explains how to use employee engagement data to perk up business outcomes.

Victoria Fitoussi from Sapling HR suggests 4 KPIs to measure Employee Engagement:

  1. Employee Suggestion Box to give your employees a chance to have their voice heard.
  2. Employee Engagement Surveys to collect opinions to gain insight into levels of employee engagement.
  3. Employee Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure the levels of satisfaction and loyalty of employees.
  4. Employee Absenteeism and Turnover Rate to ascertain whether there are certain managers or departments that need attention to improve the employee experience.

Pulse surveys help a lot in assessing employee engagement in organizations. Glint offers a tool that helps the company understand its people better. It is easier to analyze the engagement level of the staff members and focus on the areas to improve. 15Five Continuous Performance Managementlattice Performance ManagementMotivosityClarity WaveCulture Amp are some of the best-in-league employee engagement platforms/tools that make it easier for the companies to collect employee feedback/emotions and improve them for good.

And yes, employee engagement does impact the bottom line of the company. Highly engaged organizations witness a 21% increase in profitability figures. On the other hand, actively disengaged employees cost the US $450-550 billion in lost productivity every year, a Gallup report stated way back in 2013.

The Future of Employee Engagement

Construction, real estate, and professional services in the US are the top three industries in terms of highly engaged employees, while government, manufacturing, and wholesale trade sectors were the worst performers in 2016-17.

What is Employee Engagement?

As of 2018, an all-time high – 34% of the workers in the US have been reported to be engaged, across 18 years of Gallup’s studies.

What is Employee Engagement?

But millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2030. Businesses seeking to attract and retain quality talent will have to tailor their engagement models as per their preferences. Compassionate leadership, flexible work timings, focus on societal problems, accelerated development opportunities, favorable culture at the workplace, etc. would be the drivers of the change. Forrester assures positive outcomes with automation, AI, and robots taking over autonomous and predictable tasks.

Companies need to work extensively towards creating an environment where the employees feel motivated, active, appreciated, anticipate growth, and of course, are well-compensated. They have been trying and failing at improving their employee engagement for over two decades now. As per a study by Quantum Workplace, even the best workplaces in America have scored less than 69% in employee engagement. A prominent reason for this is an invisible disconnect between managers and employees. Managers are expected to be the backbone of such activities in the years to come; they are going to drive the process with a little help from the HR department. The reason Google, Virgin, American Express, and the likes have been successful in crafting the best places to work with lies in their employee engagement endeavors.

This article was first published by TecHR Series