Employee engagement is about more than happy employees. Engaged employees are invested in your company’s success, values, and goals. According to a 2021 Gallup report, businesses with highly engaged employees are more profitable, have lower staff turnover, report fewer safety issues, and have higher rates of customer loyalty.
It won’t happen overnight, but by listening to employee feedback and taking action, your employees’ level of engagement can be improved.
Let’s chat about employee engagement, its benefits, and how to improve it in your company.
Employee engagement is the level of enthusiasm and commitment a worker feels toward their job. Engaged employees feel valued, care deeply about their work, and are dedicated to the success of the company. High levels of engagement improve retention of talent, boost productivity, and lead to better business outcomes.
Some businesses mistake employee satisfaction, wellbeing, or general happiness with engagement. While these are important factors in the employee experience, they aren’t indicators of someone’s investment in the success of their teams, organizations, or the overall business. This isn’t about video games in the break room or free lunch on Fridays. Those are great perks, but making your employees happy isn’t enough to foster engagement.
Engaged employees are loyal to your company and believe in your vision. They actively make efforts to help the company meet its goals. Engaged employees are optimistic, team-focused, and willing to go beyond their job description. They are emotionally committed and passionate about their work.
On the other hand, disengaged employees are average performers who feel no real connection to their work. They tend to be pessimistic about their job and company and may only do the minimum required to earn a paycheck. These employees rarely communicate their feelings about their work, and when they do, it’s to express negativity and complaints.
It’s important to not confuse employee engagement with happiness, satisfaction, or wellbeing. While these can have an effect on engagement, they should not be confused with engagement itself.
Happy employees have positive feelings about their work and company. They’re energized and motivated to take on challenges in their jobs. Happiness can change on a day-to-day basis. You can help improve employee happiness with good communication, employee recognition, and other actions that enhance the work environment.
Often mistaken for engagement, employee satisfaction describes how satisfied or content people are with various aspects of their jobs. Factors that influence employee satisfaction may include pay, workload, resources, perception of management, and other factors.
Employee wellbeing includes a person’s overall physical, emotional, and economic health. It influences their relationships at work, decision-making skills, and internal resources for dealing with a variety of situations. Employee wellbeing can impact engagement, but the two terms are not interchangeable.
Why is employee engagement important to your organization? Because it not only benefits your employees, it also benefits your teams, managers, and the business as a whole.
Imagine you’ve promoted a high level of employee engagement in the individuals in your organization. Now imagine those individuals working together as a team. Engaged employees working together will produce amazing results and outcomes—far better than teams that are not engaged.
When a team is constructed of motivated, engaged employees, each individual is likely to be more engaged in their own role, resulting in a higher level of team performance.
Your highly engaged employees are invested in their job and performance. They work harder and complete tasks because they like their jobs and buy into company values. How much more productive are they? A Gallup study revealed that engaged employees are 14% more productive than their counterparts!
Employees that have been with your company for a while have valuable knowledge and expertise. If they leave and are replaced by new employees, you must spend time and money training new hires and getting them into a position where they can fill the gap the seasoned employee left behind.
Engaged employees are more likely to stay with your company. They are committed to their job, team, and brand. More engaged employees mean a stronger, dedicated workforce to help you hit your company goals. It’s a good idea to use employee feedback to attract and retain your employees.
Your engaged employees are less likely to miss days of work and when they’re present, they’re fully immersed in their work. Disengaged employees are 81% more likely to call in sick and are less committed when they are at work.
Engaged employees working together on a team, as we discussed earlier, will produce high-level outcomes. These teams will have a direct impact on moving closer to your organization’s objectives. Engaged team members believe in your company's vision and will work together to make it happen.
If your employees are happy and engaged, your customers will be happier as well. Engaged employees provide better customer service—which results in customer loyalty and retention. These employees care about the customer experience and will go out of their way to make sure it’s positive, resulting in profitability for the company.
Which leads us to increased profits—by up to 23%. This makes sense if you consider that you’re retaining your employees, increasing productivity, and elevating your customer service experience. All of this leads to increased sales and profits. These gains are long-term as long as you continue to improve your employee engagement efforts.
If your sales representatives are highly engaged, you could see an average increase in sales productivity of 18%. These engaged sales reps sell more products and services, upsell more customers, and have high customer satisfaction and retention rates. They believe in your brand, and customers trust them because of it.
We’ve discussed that your engaged employees are more productive, focused on company goals, and offer improved customer service experiences. Their enthusiasm and positivity increase customer satisfaction—in fact, you could see an increase in customer loyalty and retention of 10% or more.
Employee satisfaction indicates how content your workers are with their current work situation. It can be measured using an employee satisfaction survey to evaluate how employees feel about their job and work environment. The survey may collect data on compensation, workload, resources, and other work-related factors
While an engaged employee is likely to be satisfied, a satisfied employee is not necessarily engaged.
The best way to measure employee engagement is with an employee engagement survey. There are several types of surveys to measure employee engagement at different times during the employee’s tenure with your organization.
The first action item for gaining employee engagement in your organization is to conduct an employee engagement survey. The data collected from the survey will help you understand a number of factors that can be used to determine employee engagement. These factors include:
A pulse survey is a short survey conducted on a regular basis. It may be administered monthly, quarterly, or at another interval of your choosing. These surveys are typically 15 questions or less and focus on current employee engagement objectives. They can be used for ongoing, regular evaluation of changes you’ve made to improve and increase engagement and to guide any necessary modifications.
Pulse surveys are easy to administer and act upon. They build company culture by offering employees an opportunity to contribute and interact with the company as they work toward common goals. An added benefit of pulse surveys is their positive influence on employee wellbeing as employees feel their voices are being heard.
Keep in mind that a brief pulse survey may reveal whether an employee is engaged, but you need to dig deeper with more targeted surveys throughout the employee life cycle to obtain data that can be translated into meaningful training programs, activities, strategies, and initiatives to raise and maintain engagement levels.
As the name suggests, employee life cycle surveys are given at various points during the employee’s time with the company. There are several types of life cycle surveys to gather employee feedback on everything from the recruitment process to the exit interview. Questions that indicate engagement may be used within all of these surveys.
Not sure where to begin? Read more about employee engagement surveys, and find out how you can build a more productive workforce.
We’ve covered what employee engagement is and talked about ways to evaluate engagement. Next, we’ll discuss the drivers that impact employee engagement. These drivers are areas you should address when building your strategy to improve engagement.
Company culture is a set of shared values, attitudes, goals, and practices within a company. Culture has an enormous impact on employee engagement levels. It must be regularly cultivated to produce long-term results.
A healthy company culture that fosters employee engagement has:
Drivers for engagement differ depending on the industry. Engagement drivers for a home improvement company may be motivated by workplace safety and team relationships, while a healthcare outreach program might need work to be tied to local community health goals.
Conferences, trade shows, and training sessions all offer opportunities for employees to learn and grow in their careers, regardless of industry. Any chance to make new connections, add to skill sets, and demonstrate expertise will positively impact engagement.
A big part of employee engagement hinges on job function. If an employee feels that their work is meaningful, they’ll feel motivated and inspired to do their best. Some employees are motivated by growth in their job role with expanded responsibilities and new projects that align with their interests. It may not be the actual job function that’s motivating, but rather their positive work relationships, work-life balance, or another factor related to their work.
Depending upon where the employee is in their career path, they will be motivated by different things. Those who are early in their careers may be motivated by competitive salaries, opportunities for advancement, and chances to expand their skills. Employees who are later in their careers may be more influenced by work relationships, work-life balance, or having more flexibility in work schedules.
Leadership, human resources, and managers are all critical to employee engagement. Each group will require specific insights from the data collected via surveys. They’ll use the data to take specific actions to increase employee engagement based on their role and responsibilities.
Leaders set the tone and culture in the organization. They produce change and motivate employees. A good leader appreciates the values of the employees who are willing to commit their energy and talent toward accomplishing shared objectives. Leaders share their vision for the future and help employees understand that they are key in making that vision happen. They communicate clearly and frequently about changes in the organization and progress towards shared goals.
Your HR team is responsible for ensuring your employees have the right skills, tools, and environment to perform their jobs. HR should foster a culture of engagement and be proactive in sending surveys and setting policies and procedures that attract and retain talent that will help the company grow. HR should be in charge of initiatives for engagement and hold teams accountable for participation.
Good managers are critical for employee engagement. They are responsible for creating an environment for engagement by building positive relationships, listening to employee feedback and ideas, recognizing and celebrating individual and team successes, providing continuous feedback, and supporting employee development and growth. Managers should work on creating and maintaining a trusting and respectful work environment.
Multiple studies show that people leave managers, not companies. They have the greatest influence on their employees’ daily work life, including environment, processes, and operations. A manager’s positive and supportive role is crucial to employee engagement.
Employees are your gateway to understanding employee engagement. They will provide you with feedback, especially if you give them a well-thought-out survey that is honest and actionable about what is and isn’t working in the organization. Employees can help with brainstorming creative solutions to problems that are hampering engagement. Engaged employees will take ownership of their performance and career development and build meaningful relationships with team members and managers.
There are several strategies for increasing employee engagement in your organization. All of your strategies and action-items should be based on your survey research. That invaluable data will help you get much closer to employee engagement goals.
Here, we present engagement strategies based on communication, recognition, and empowerment.
You may have heard the saying, “Communication is a two-way street,” and that is critical to remember when working on employee engagement. Leadership, management, and HR should all be transparent with employees. Dissemination of information helps employees understand how corporate decisions are made, how these decisions affect the workplace culture—and how they affect each individual employee. Working for a company that keeps employees in the dark can be frustrating and make employees feel that the company is not trustworthy or is keeping secrets.
But what about employees communicating with management? Other than encouraging them to speak up, managers should ensure that employees feel heard and safe—that their concerns will be kept in confidence. Listening to employees makes them feel valued, so provide avenues for communication. These include one-on-one time, office hours open for conversations, and forums for anonymous suggestions or concerns for those who are not comfortable speaking directly. Foster an atmosphere of open communication of all types.
This means that part of your strategy should include educating managers on how to best communicate with employees. Prepare managers to effectively coach employees, actively listen to them, and provide employees with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. This includes receiving feedback on what they can do to support their employees. Bring HR into this strategy, especially when hiring managers. They can actively seek out managers with effective communication skills.
Unfortunately, many employees are used to receiving criticism for work that isn’t up to company standards, but they don’t receive recognition for good work. Praise is an important motivator that is often overlooked. Recognition for a job well done encourages employees to work harder and discourages unwanted behaviors. Receiving criticism that isn’t constructive leads to job dissatisfaction and a negative company culture.
By recognizing their work, you’re giving employees a sense of purpose and emotional connection to the company. Emotional connection, as you know, is crucial for engagement.
Verbal recognition alone may be enough, but when it’s accompanied by a reward, it can be even more motivating. Office perks, gift cards, or certificates are all great ways to show your employees that they are valued. Keep all forms of recognition aligned with your company culture, values, and philosophy for maximum impact.
Give your employees learning opportunities, resources, opportunities, and authority to make good decisions about their jobs and how they work. Then hold them responsible for the outcomes of their actions.
Empowering employees allows them to take responsibility and ownership of their work. The empowerment then provides structure for the rest of your employee engagement efforts. When employees feel empowered, they are more invested in their jobs. Their work ethic, reliability, and dedication improve because they know they are ultimately responsible for their own successes.
Part of empowerment is investing in the personal growth of employees. We mentioned learning opportunities, and they are critical for this strategy. Whether you send them to training, sponsor online courses, or send them for a professional certificate, you’re investing in your employees and the future value they can provide in your business.
By empowering your employees, you will reap the benefits of their increased motivation and creativity, trust in the company, and employee retention.
Now, let’s make sure your employee engagement plan is ready to work its magic.
It’s time to launch your plan to improve employee engagement at your organization. Be realistic in your goals—it takes time. Be clear about individual, management, and leadership responsibilities. Use data to measure employee engagement and drive changes that will work for your unique needs. If you need some help coming up with employee engagement ideas, SurveyMonkey can help. When you’re ready, make sure your employee engagement plan does the following:
Employee engagement will benefit not only your employees but also your company. You’ll see better customer service, improved sales numbers, productive individuals and teams, higher employee retention, and many more positive effects of employee engagement once you put your plan in place. Get ready to deploy your employee engagement survey now!
To reap the benefits of engaged employees, start with surveys to measure where your employees are today. SurveyMonkey has all of the information and tools you need to get started right away. Just choose your plan and get started on improving your employee engagement and, by extension, your whole organization.