why employee engagement matters now

Get Your Employee Engagement Right, Now

A slew of meaty studies have been published recently on employee engagement (among them, Temkin Group’s 2016 Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Measuring Employee Engagement Report, and multiple publications by Gallup). Here’s a rundown of some interesting takeaways and what they mean for your business.

 

Let’s Talk Impact: Why Does Engagement Matter?

Most business leaders and HR professionals “get it” that employee engagement is important for their company, and why. Still, it’s worthwhile to review some benefits.  Gallup has once again confirmed a connection between engagement and companies’ financial success. They measured an increase in customer ratings, profitability, and productivity at highly-engaged businesses (up by 10%, 22%, and 21%, respectively). Gallup’s research also found these measures of improved performance associated with high levels of employee engagement: fewer quality defects, fewer safety incidents, less shrinkage, less turnover and less absenteeism.  

Perhaps even more compelling is the potential for employee engagement to boost your employer brand, and have that enthusiasm spill over into your consumer brand. Engaged employees acting (authentically and independently) as brand ambassadors can benefit your company through recruiting, hiring, and consumer relationships (Barry Saltzman discusses here in Fast Company). His approach starts with hiring people who genuinely love everything about your company, so they come effectively “pre-engaged.”

Consistent with that, Temkin Group’s study found “highly engaged employees are more that four times as likely to recommend the company’s products and services…and seven times as likely to recommend that a friend or relative apply for a job at their company.” Without a doubt, employee engagement is a powerful force to tap.

turn engaged employees into brand advocates

Happy employees, a productive, engaged workforce, greater employee retention, employees doing their own recruiting and advocating for the company with consumers. Plus better financial performance? This sounds like Disneyland for employers. What’s not to love about employee engagement? Perhaps, for many employers, its elusive nature.

Many companies are still struggling to effectively tap into the benefits of an engaged workforce. Let’s explore that.

 

Why Isn’t Employee Engagement Working For Us (Yet)?

Gallup has been tracking employee engagement in the U.S. since 2000. In that time, engagement levels have hovered consistently below 33%. (By the way, as bad as that sounds, only 13% of  employees around the world are engaged, according to Gallup). Although the national engagement level has been relatively constant, some individual companies have made measurable improvements through their engagement initiatives.

But if yours is among the many companies who haven’t seen such improvements, you aren’t alone. Here are some common reasons why engagement may not yet be working for your organization:

  • You aren’t measuring engagement with a validated assessment tool
  • You are measuring it but not doing much with the results
  • You are approaching it as one-off item, rather than an ongoing strategic initiative
  • You are measuring happiness or satisfaction (think: ping-pong tables, beer on tap) rather than engagement, which is about performance outcomes
  • You’re not recruiting people who are passionate about your company to begin with
  • Engagement seems ambiguous and abstract, not tied to values, steps, and people
  • Your engagement efforts are limited to HR, rather than being meaningfully integrated across the workplace by leaders and managers

 

How To Get Better at Employee Engagement

The good news about employee engagement is that you don’t need to be a huge enterprise or invest tons of money to reap the rewards. At the end of the day, your employees want to be recognized and appreciated for the hard work they do for your organization. But thank yous alone won’t earn their loyalty. Ultimately, employees want to feel invested in the company, that their work can and does matter, and they want opportunities for growth, both with the company and in their profession.

Remember, your organization runs because of the people you employ. Amid fierce hiring competition for desirable candidates, not having a well-developed company culture designed to encourage employee engagement will become more of a liability. And an engaging culture will also make it easier to start by hiring employees who love your company from the start. If your company’s engagement level is not what it should be, now is the time!

What has your company done to build engagement? Share something that’s worked (or not) for you in the comments.

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Image credits: © stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo; © wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo; both modified by text overlay and re-sizing.

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