Having an engaged workforce that ceaselessly works towards achieving set goals makes for a successful business. Of course, it goes without the saying that employee engagement is not the be-all, end-all for a booming organisation, but working on it can do wonders for your company in concrete and measurable ways.
Even big companies like Google and Facebook know how valuable employee engagement is to the success of their organisations. That is why it’s a great wonder how not a lot of companies see its value.
Reports from the Gallup Organisation indicated that approximately only 13% of employees globally are engaged. This means that there is a high number of employees who are not invested in using their skill sets and talents for strengthening and enriching their organisations.
The Gallup study also estimated that having a disengaged workforce has been costing businesses a great deal, ranging from a whopping $483 billion to up to $605. Gallup also notes that companies with highly engaged employees can bring significant benefits in terms of productivity.
This is why boosting everyone’s involvement within the organisation is a key factor in improving your business bottom line.
Before diving into some strategies that you can implement to boost employee engagement so you could reap its benefits, we first have to define what engagement is in terms of upholding its value among members of your organisation.
What exactly is employee engagement?
Boston University Professor William Kahn coined the term “employee engagement.” In his 1990 research called “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work,” Prof. Kahn defined employee engagement as “harnessing of organisation members’ selves to their work role.”
He says that the role performance of each individual within an organisation is highly dependent on an employee’s emotional commitment to the company—most specifically, in terms of giving their physical, mental, and emotional capacities towards adding value to their employer.
Why measuring employee engagement matters
Former Xerox Chief Operating Officer Anne M. Mulcahy said it most succinctly and realistically, “…satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” The CEO also noted that employees who operate under the belief that their management has a genuine concern for their wellbeing had increased motivation, productivity, satisfaction, and overall fulfillment.
When employees believe that their leaders have authentic concern towards them, they are more committed and loyal to your organisation. Regular engagement surveys will prove to your workforce that they are more than just cogs in a machine because reaching out in this way means that you are continually working towards goals that positively affect their overall well being.
Employee feedback is not just gained for FYI purposes. Measuring engagement rates, satisfaction levels, and other metrics are done for responding to relevant findings. The best way to prove that their opinion counts is to act on what should and could be improved. Do not ask for feedback unless you are willing to do something about it.
Why must new companies be concerned with engagement?
Setting up a business already involves a truckload of challenges. This is why emerging businesses and startup companies will see no added value in having a disengaged workforce. In fact, it will be highly detrimental to have disengaged employees just as you are starting out.
It is up to the business owners to get their teams ready for action, especially at the early stages, when we are trying to stretch as much of our business dollars as possible. We want to maximise all our resources, including employee productivity so that we can see achieve our ROIs and work on KPIs as soon as possible.
Good salaries are not enough anymore to make employees stay—or they could stay, but in highly disengaged states, if you are not doing what you can to address their concerns.
There are several solutions you can put in place to keep employee satisfaction and happiness up, like providing company-unique benefits, health and wellness perks like gym memberships, incentives or rewards for achievements, and many more.
How to measure engagement in your organisation
Companies have different cultures and management styles. This makes it challenging to have a standard when it comes to measuring employee engagement. Some businesses see it as happiness, others have said that it refers to satisfaction, and there are those who see it as an individual’s commitment to achieving organisational goals.
The truth is that engagement is a complex topic that involves a combination of all those factors, which complicate matters to a certain degree. Engagement is a compounded emotion collected from various work experiences, and many different needs must be revealed to address engagement concerns among your employees.
Some metrics you should collect to get a good picture of the overall health of your employee engagement include asking for general feedback, recognising good work and professional wins, and assessing their happiness levels.
It will also help to know how they relate to their superiors and contemporaries to find out about their health and wellness, get insights on their personal growth, know their alignment, and their satisfaction with their current set-up.
Some of the proven and most useful tools you can use to measure engagement are short, frequent surveys that are anything between 3 to 10 questions long, team meetings, one-on-one stay or exit interviews, various assessments in a private setting, and many others. Digital technologies will also play a big role in boosting employee engagement in the near future.
Top 5 Benefits of Employee Engagement
Now that we know how complex of a concept employee engagement can be, let’s see the ten most powerful benefits of keeping your team happy to keep business going.
Boost health among employees
A Harvard Business Review article said that disengaged employees with high stress levels incur hidden costs, resulting in 50% more health care expenses for businesses.
As an employer, you can show your employees that you care for their health and well being by holding fun runs, weekend exercise programs, after-work yoga, stocking up on healthy snacks or produce in the pantry, having gym benefits for them, and others.
Individuals who are engaged with their work have decreased risks for obesity, as they are more inclined to make healthier choices in terms of food and lifestyle options. They are more likely to eat cleaner and have the energy to engage in proper exercise that will benefit their health.
Greater satisfaction and happiness among individual employees and teams
Time and again, we have mentioned in this article how satisfaction and happiness among employees boost their enthusiasm to be of value to the organisation.
Having happy, satisfied employees who have their respective financial, emotional, mental, and physical needs met while under your wing empowers them to do more and be more. Being treated well in all aspects means that employees would love showing up for work, eventually reducing absenteeism.
In fact, a report says that highly engaged business units can have a 41% decrease in absentee rates.
Increased productivity translates to higher profits
Happiness and satisfaction in engaged employees cause a spike in work productivity. Liking what you are doing is one of the easiest ways to excel in virtually anything. If you feel interested, chances are you will work harder, better, and faster.
The study conducted by Gallup proves this, as they discovered in their research that engaged employees were found to be 17% more productive than disengaged ones.
This only goes to show that having engaged employees enhances outcomes, as it raises levels of efficiency that will allow you to have a high-performing organisation.
Happy employees perform well because they are naturally inspired to produce top-notch work and give excellent client service—all of which promotes customer loyalty (not to mention, the additional business you get from referrals if everything goes smoothly).
Even the leanest teams can make the most significant impact, as long as leaders are constantly focused on having an engaged workforce that is willing to give it their best shot nearly every working day.
Increased employee retention means low turnover rates
A lot of business these days, including those that provide staff leasing like Business Process Outsourcing companies, are notorious for high turnovers. With the young set’s shifting definitions of employee loyalty, it has been found that approximately 46% of workers would willingly take another job offer if the conditions are right.
Disengaged employees naturally always seek “the next best thing,” which stems from their dissatisfaction. When workers are highly motivated and engaged, they keep going no matter what opportunity comes knocking on their doorstep.
Better leadership within the organisation
Great leaders seek to mentor their subordinates not only in a professional sense but in a personal way, as well. The most effective managers and superiors have the ability to build genuine connections with their employees and are able to inspire them to do good work through leading by example.
Leaders who know their employees are able to utilise their team members’ strengths so that they can be leveraged to reach objectives in a better and more efficient way.
Increasing employee engagement will benefit your company in many ways. Aside from having happy employees that makes it a joy to work each day, you will see increased productivity, high-quality output, lower turnover rates, better profitability, and sales across the board.
Once you get a pulse on your employees’ levels of satisfaction and overall happiness and engagement, be transparent about the results and pick the top concerns that need to be addressed. Listening to their feedback and acting on what needs to be done is the single, most effective way for you to prove as an employer that you care about their overall well being.
About the Author
Regina de Rosario is from Booth & Partners. With a solid background in conducting interviews with multiple candidates to identify the one with the most potential. Hired over 100 applicants for positions in dozens of industries and campaigns, at levels ranging from interns to upper-level management.