Employee engagement is a term used to describe the relationship between an organization and its employees. It’s meant to convey a holistic view of the employer/employee connection by thinking about how emotionally and mentally connected an employee is with their work, teammates, manager, and the organization itself.
Levels of employee engagement
Highly engaged employees
Highly engaged employees are the living embodiment of model employees. They’re invested in their own success as well as the company’s, and they drive that through their productivity and high performance. These employees consistently demonstrate enthusiasm, leadership, ambition, and a rock-solid work ethic.
Characteristics of highly engaged employees
Efficient in producing high-quality work
Actively seeks opportunities for change and continuous improvement
Prioritizes their development and growth
Seeks ways to support their colleagues and team
Makes tangible contributions to the workplace
Moderately engaged employees
Moderately engaged employees do their jobs and come to work, but that’s about all you can expect from them. They’re not particularly emotionally connected to their work, and they’re more driven by a paycheck than a need to see their company succeed. This approach to work may sound reasonable at first, but can become problematic if they start to become disengaged.
Characteristics of engaged employees
Makes contributions to their team
Meets work deadlines
Adapts to change as necessary
Actively disengaged employees
An actively disengaged employee is more than just unhappy with their job. Their extreme dissatisfaction and disappointment can cause them to unintentionally (and in some cases, intentionally) negatively affect their peers. These employees may actively look for other jobs and tend not to stay for long.
Characteristics of actively disengaged employees
Dissatisfied in their role or workplace
Decline in quality of work
Lack of participation
How is employee engagement measured?
There are a variety of metrics and methods HR professionals and managers use to measure employee engagement at their companies. Some look at absenteeism and attrition rates to gauge engagement, while others rely on eNPS surveys and other qualitative ways to gather feedback. Many organizations find that a mixture of methods are the best way to measure engagement at work.
Why is employee engagement important?
Employee engagement can genuinely benefit everyone at work. Every aspect of your business is affected by employee engagement. Engaged employees tend to feel invested and respected at work, and that can lead to improved morale and lower rates of absenteeism and turnover. Businesses with engaged employees tend to have increased revenue and more loyal customers.
Benefits of employee engagement
Stronger company culture
Company culture and employee engagement go hand in hand. Engaged employees play a big role in shaping and maintaining company culture and values through their work and attitude.
Higher employee morale
Engaged employees aren’t just great for productivity, they’re also big morale boosters. Engaged employees tend to have better morale and more positive associations with their workplace.
Increased profitability & revenue
Engaged employees don’t just tend to do great work, they’re also more likely to go above and beyond. That great work can lead to more revenue and increased profitability for companies.
Decrease in burnout
Employee burnout can lead to higher attrition rates, decreased productivity, and low morale. Engaged employees feel energized by work instead of overwhelmed, and could also be willing to help lighten the load for overloaded employees.
The cure for quiet quitting and low morale could be to invest in employee engagement strategies. Engaged employees are happy with their jobs and companies, and they’re more likely to stay around for longer.
Increased productivity & efficiency
When you’re engaged at work, you’re more willing to go the extra mile. Engaged employees tend to be more productive, efficient, and willing to put in the extra effort.
Better team performance
Engaged employees are excellent motivators for their team members. They produce stellar work, help people work more efficiently, and can their great attitude can have been infectious to people around them.
Greater employee satisfaction
It’s difficult to be engaged at work if you aren’t happy with your job. Engaged employees are satisfied with their work and place at the company, and it shows through everything they do.
Streamline internal communications workflows to combat burnout
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It’s hard to give 100% percent when you feel like your work doesn’t matter. Showing employees how their work positively impacts their company or team can help them feel more engaged and motivated.
Toxic company cultures are employee morale killers. Positive, knowledge driven work cultures that focus on trust, transparency, and rewarding and recognizing hard work are far more likely to have engaged employees.
Everyone from C-level employees to managers should be invested in building a workplace where people can be engaged. Leadership that embodies a company’s cultural values can be a strong driver for employee engagement.
Career growth and development
How engaged can you be at a job where you’re unsure of your future? Showing employees clear paths for growth and development can help lead to higher levels of engagement.
Nobody likes to feel like they’re being micromanaged at work. Giving employees the autonomy they need to work can help them feel more engaged and connected.
Sometimes a “good job” can go a long way at work. Recognizing employee effort helps people stay engaged at work, and makes them eager to do even more.
Relationships matter at work, and they can be your greatest tool for employee engagement. When people feel connected to their coworkers, they can feel more engaged and motivated at work.
A company that respects the personal time of its people is a company with highly-engaged employees. Setting rules around after-hours communication and encouraging vacation time can do wonders for morale.
Purpose and values
People want to feel like their work matters and like they work for a company that shares their values. Communicating how employees affect purpose and values can be an excellent morale booster.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion
Working for a company that shares your beliefs can make you feel more motivated and engaged. Companies that invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion show its employees that they care about these values.
What causes poor employee engagement?
A variety of things can negatively impact employee engagement at work. Wages, toxic dynamics, and culture can all have seriously adverse effects on engagement. It’s important to note that even the best employee engagement tactics can’t help fix underlying issues. It’s important to address underlying issues while implementing the right employee engagement strategies to ensure that you can see positive changes come from it.
Best practices to improve employee engagement
Alignment on company direction and strategy
Understanding the overall goals of a company can help people feel more engaged. Make sure that managers are conveying to their employees how their work affects the bottom line, and give them insight into decisions leadership makes.
Utilize collaboration tools
It can be difficult to feel engaged at work when you’re having trouble working with your fellow employees. Using the right collaboration tools can help people feel more productive and engaged at work.
Promote two-way communication
Adopting the right communication practices at work can be a great way to help employees feel more engaged. Educate people on the right and wrong ways to give feedback, collaborate, and ask questions to ensure that everyone has their voice heard at work.
Develop an employee experience strategy
When you’re thinking about your employee engagement strategy be sure to put plenty of focus on the employee experience. Giving thought to how people experience work and culture at your company can give you helpful insight into what keeps people motivated and engaged.
Encourage cross-functional collaboration
Working in silos can make people feel more disconnected to their work. Encourage teams to work together and give others insight into their work to keep engagement high.
Incorporate team bonding activities
Relationships matter at work, and giving people opportunities to get to know one another can be great for engagement. Both virtual and in-person events can help people know their teammates on a personal level.
Measure employee engagement
Measuring the right metrics can help you determine if your current employee engagement strategies are working the way you’d hope. There are a variety of ways for companies to measure engagement, here are a few suggestions:
Employee engagement surveys
The occasional survey is a great way to get both qualitative and quantitative and feedback. Make sure to establish a sending cadence to ensure that you’re regularly gathering feedback.
Managers are your first line of defense against disengagement. Make sure that managers have regular 1:1s with their direct reports and that they’re open to hearing suggestions for improvement from their employees.
Performance review cycle
Employee reviews are an excellent opportunity to gather feedback and gauge engagement. See how employees feel about their role, the company itself, and their team.
Employee engagement frequently asked questions
Who’s responsible for employee engagement?
Managers have the most direct ability to keep employees engaged. They have the most influence over individuals’ schedules and work, and they have the power to shape the employee experience.
What’s the difference between employee engagement and employee experience?
Employee experience involves everything that forms an employee’s opinion of a company. This can be what they see, hear, and believe about their job.
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment employees have to their work, organization, and overall goals.
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