Employee engagement has a direct impact on work efficiency. When employees care about their job and view it as meaningful, they are likely to put in their best effort.
Why do popular brands like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and IBM prioritise employee happiness and well-being? On the one hand, this approach allows them to attract and retain talent, making them more appealing to potential hires. But on the other hand, it drives employee engagement and work performance, leading to better business outcomes.
Engaged employees are more productive and will go above and beyond to support the company for whom they work. Moreover, they’ll be emotionally committed to their work and have a sense of purpose.
As a small or medium-sized business, you have limited resources and may not be able to offer the same perks as Google or Adobe. But even so, you can still nurture your employees’ well-being and increase their engagement at work. Over time, this approach can lead to a more efficient workforce, lower turnover, and higher revenue.
What is employee engagement?
Remember the days when you got your first job or started your business? Chances are, you felt excited about the whole thing and wanted to do whatever it took to excel in your role. Simply put, you were engaged in your work.
Employee engagement describes people’s dedication, enthusiasm, and commitment to their jobs. Engaged workers feel connected to the company they work for, which fuels their motivation to do things better and smarter. As a result, they are more likely to reach peak performance and stick around when times get tough.
Think about industry-leading organisations like Salesforce, HubSpot, McKinsey, or LinkedIn. They all prioritise employee happiness and well-being, and their efforts pay off.
For example, Salesforce offers flexible work arrangements, dental insurance like MetaLife, adoption assistance, job training, and other perks. The company also has a diversity program that allows its staff to buy shares at lower prices.
Similarly, LinkedIn offers paid parental leave, fertility and adoption assistance, wellness programs, tuition reimbursement, and paid time off. Moreover, its employees can opt for special benefits like pet care, tax preparation, gym memberships, and other extras. Such initiatives can boost engagement in the workplace and improve a company’s bottom line.
Why employee engagement matters
Employee engagement isn’t just a buzzword. Companies with a highly engaged workforce are 21% more profitable and have lower turnover than those with less engaged workers, reports Gallup.
These organisations also experience higher productivity, increased retention, and improved employee well-being. Plus, they can better meet customers’ needs and perform at higher levels than those with a disengaged workforce.
Engaged employees don’t work just for a paycheck. They care about their jobs and want to see the company succeed. These people work toward a shared vision and feel they are making an impact.
But that’s not all. So let’s take a closer look at the benefits of employee engagement—and what it means for your business.
Higher retention rates
Most people spend about a third of their lives at work. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure your employees enjoy what they do. If they don’t have a sense of purpose, they’ll walk away and join an organisation that can bring the best out of them and acknowledges their efforts.
Engaged workers are more loyal to their employers and won’t quit their jobs for a bigger paycheck. This aspect can improve a company’s retention rates and reduce turnover, making it easier to attract top talent.
Employees engaged in their jobs will work harder to get things done. As a result, they will be more productive and perform better than those with lower engagement levels.
Regarding productivity vs. efficiency, employers with highly engaged teams will likely see improvements in both areas.
You’ll do your best to achieve the desired outcome if you care about something. This desired outcome may require working late at night, brainstorming ideas, juggling multiple tasks, and doing whatever it takes. Over time, you’ll become more productive and efficient—or at least get closer to your goals.
Greater customer satisfaction
According to Gallup, companies with engaged teams have more satisfied customers, which is logical. Happier, more committed employees will go back and forth to meet customers’ needs, no matter the industry.
Imagine walking into a chain store whose employees are underpaid or overworked. Of course, they will still assist you and answer your questions, but they might only do the bare minimum. You won’t see them putting in the effort to make you buy more or ensure you’ll return.
More sales and higher profits
Engaged workers are more productive and committed to improving the customer experience. Plus, they tend to do things better and smarter than disengaged employees. As you would expect, these factors can result in higher sales numbers and greater revenue.
Employee engagement can also boost profits by reducing absenteeism and turnover. In addition, engaged workers often experience less stress and burnout than the average employee, which can result in better mental health.
Mental well-being is associated with lower rates of anxiety and depression. At the same time, it instills a sense of purpose and feelings of happiness and accomplishment.
These factors can lead to a more loyal workforce, reducing employee turnover and recruitment costs.
Higher quality work
Organisations with highly engaged teams invest in employee training and development.
For example, SAS offers on-the-job training, leadership courses, mentorship programs, seminars, workshops, and everything in between. Its leaders seek to keep employees motivated and engaged through continuous learning.
Other companies provide tuition reimbursement, encouraging employees to develop their skills. AT&T, for instance, built strategic partnerships with Udacity, Georgia Tech, and other schools to promote employee development. The organisation also launched several educational programs that you can complete online.
These initiatives can help employees reach their full potential and grow professionally. As a result, they will deliver higher quality work, make fewer mistakes, and keep up with the latest industry trends.
The link between employee engagement and efficiency
Engaged employees are productive employees. Productive employees are efficient employees. Therefore, employee engagement and efficiency go hand in hand.
If your employees are not engaged in their work, there’s a small likelihood they’ll be as productive as you want them to be—but much less effective than you need them to be.
Imagine the following scenario: you ask your IT staff to tweak the company’s website. For example, let’s say you want it to be faster and more appealing to potential buyers.
A few days later, you check out their work and realise it’s far from what you expected. The website is fast and looks good overall, but it doesn’t align with your brand image. Plus, it’s only slightly better than the previous version. The results might have been different if your employees were more engaged in their work.
Employee engagement drives efficiency and performance
As a manager or business owner, you want your staff to work smarter, meet deadlines, and find solutions to problems. However, most people won’t commit themselves fully to their role if they don’t feel engaged.
Higher employee engagement levels equal improved performance and greater job satisfaction. This correlation creates a thriving work environment where people feel motivated to do their best, which drives business success.
Organisations with highly engaged teams have 23% higher profits than those with less engaged employees, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report. Therefore, it’s fair to assume that engaged employees are more productive and efficient.
When people fully invest in their work, they go the extra mile to get things done and overcome any challenges they may face. This approach requires cooperation, outside-the-box thinking—and, ultimately, efficiency.
How companies can improve employee engagement
Nearly 60% of people worldwide are actively disengaged at work, notes Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report. What’s more, employee disengagement costs the global economy a whopping $7.8 trillion. But how can companies address these issues and prevent employees from losing interest in their work?
For starters, you could survey your team members or schedule one-on-one meetings. This process would allow you to understand their needs better – and wants – such as the desire to climb the career ladder.
Some of your employees may want a more flexible schedule or the chance to work remotely. Others might be interested in upgrading their skills to switch to a different role or get promoted. Their answers may offer valuable insights into the work environment, its strengths, and potential areas of improvement.
For example, there’s a good chance some of your employees don’t work well together, which can result in conflict and diminished performance. Others may need to develop better habits for productivity and reduce the time spent on manual data entry, social media management, and other repetitive tasks.
Consider these steps to boost their engagement and help them succeed.
Acknowledge and reward hard work
Employees who feel valued are likelier to go the extra mile in their work. However, this doesn’t mean you have to offer a bigger paycheck and cash incentives. Sometimes a simple “Thank you” or a handwritten note is all it takes to show your appreciation.
Alternatively, you could reward your top performers with an extra day off.
Small gifts, such as concert tickets, books, or gas cards, will work, too.
Consider the following options as well:
- Feature your best employees on the company’s blog
- Reward them with digital gift cards
- Start an Employee of the Month program
- Create team challenges, such as hackathons, and offer prizes
- Schedule a monthly happy hour
- Hold thank-you meetings
These initiatives will boost employee engagement and create a positive company culture. Plus, your staff members will connect more deeply and understand each other’s strengths.
Ask for and provide feedback
Performance reviews are outdated and ineffective, but many organisations still engage in this practice because they assume it’s the right thing to do. A better approach is to ask for and provide continuous feedback.
As a manager, giving continuous feedback helps employees understand what they’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement. At the same time, it’s important to see how they feel about their roles, the work environment, and your leadership style.
Hold individual and group meetings to discuss these aspects with your staff. This way, you’ll show you value their opinion and want to do your best to address their concerns. Plus, it’s an opportunity to provide constructive feedback and help them identify areas of improvement.
Build a culture of trust
Successful companies like Google, Intuit, and 3M allow their employees to take the initiative and work on side projects. The result? A more engaged workforce, faster innovation, and higher retention rates.
Such initiatives would allow you to demonstrate you trust your employees and their decisions. They may fail more than once, but they’ll learn valuable lessons and do things better the next time.
Let your team members take responsibility for their time. This approach encourages creative thinking while building a culture of trust. In the long run, it can improve decision-making, communication, and employer-employee relationships.
Offer training and development opportunities
Employee training programs can lead to a more skilled workforce and improve a company’s bottom line. At the same time, they make it easier to attract top talent and increase engagement in the workplace.
We live in a digital era marked by technological innovation, and many of the skills that are relevant today will become obsolete in a couple of years. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to prepare your staff for these changes and help them develop the skills they need to thrive in their roles.
Corporate trainers are expensive, but you can register your employees for online courses, workshops, webinars, and other training resources that fit your budget. Another option is to create a mentorship program led by more experienced employees, such as senior executives.
As you can see, employee engagement directly impacts work performance, productivity, and efficiency. This aspect also plays a key role in employee well-being and job satisfaction and can make or break a company’s culture.
Engaged employees will go the extra mile to fulfill their duties and thrive in their roles. Moreover, people who invest fully in their work will stick around longer, even when times get tough. Plus, they will take pride in their jobs and strive to create a positive workplace culture.
As a leader, it’s in your power to keep your staff engaged and motivated. Start with small steps, ask for and provide ongoing feedback, and adjust your approach as you go. Finally, trust your employees and give them the resources they need to reach peak performance.
About the Author
Andra Picincu is a digital marketing consultant and copywriter with over 12 years of experience. Over the past decade, she has turned her passion for marketing and writing into a successful business with a global audience.