Everyone wants happy employees. But one connection that’s often missed is that employee satisfaction and employee engagement go hand in hand. So how do you measure engagement in your workforce? What are some employee engagement best practices? And why does it matter for your business?
First, let’s quickly define employee engagement.
Employee engagement is the level of enthusiasm and dedication an employee feels toward their work. It’s more than having happy workers and minimizing employee turnover. For engaged employees, the job is far more than just a paycheck. They’re eager to take on responsibilities, carry out their duties and give you their best work.
Take a look at your staff. You may see that your employees will fall into one of three categories of engagement:
- Engaged – The employee believes in the business, wants to improve their work, is willing to do what it takes to help the organization succeed and is motivated by their leaders. Efficiency and enthusiasm are the hallmark traits of an engaged worker.
- Disengaged – The employee does slightly more than the bare minimum, exhibits little passion for their job and sees work as an exchange of time for a steady paycheck. Disengaged workers are often engaged workers who’ve lost their enthusiasm for one reason or another.
- Actively disengaged – The employee demonstrates low job satisfaction and makes that known, spreading negativity across the organization and often dragging operational efficiency down with them.
Engaged employees often become your company’s high performers – those who are self–motivated, innovative, proactive and are eager to learn new skills. Studies have shown that these valuable achievers can deliver as much productivity as four average employees. A bonus is that these employees are often your company’s best ambassadors, speaking well of your business.
On the other hand, disengaged employees will cost your company. A Gallup poll estimates actively disengaged employees cause U.S. companies between $450 – $550 billion in lost productivity per year.
Engaged managers are better at building teams of engaged employees. Good managers convey consistent expectations to their employees that are realistic, clear and concise.
A 2017 Gallup report concluded that employees supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than employees supervised by actively disengaged managers.
Managers clearly set the tone to increase employee engagement.
When leaders are visibly committed to their work and role – coaching and encouraging employees, celebrating successes and proactively addressing challenges – employees often follow suit. They’re more productive, provide better customer service and are less likely to leave a company.
Engaged managers happen when your company’s leadership promotes effective communication, a culture of transparency and policies that support the health and wellbeing of your workforce – at every level.
Consider the following strategies:
- Empower your managers to make more business decisions.
- Reward and recognize your managers when things are done well.
- Tell your managers that you respect their work and leadership.
- Provide your managers with the opportunity to learn new skills and advance.
- Give your managers the resources and time they need to do their jobs successfully.
- Continually audit that your managers’ abilities and skills are being put to good use.
- Effectively communicate decisions, company strategy and company mission to managers.
It’s clear employee engagement is important. But do you think your employees are likely to be engaged if their managers aren’t? Consider the HR outsourcing services offered by a professional employer organization (PEO). They can help assess your challenges and guide you in creating an action plan using strategies proven to increase employee engagement.
Now, what about employees?
An employee engagement strategy can help the business owner develop a highly engaged workforce of happier, healthier and more dedicated employees who make your business thrive.
Here are some best practices for improving employee engagement.
- Hire the right people – Create job posting descriptions with specific language to attract the best candidates. Being transparent in your expectations about job responsibilities, starting from the onboarding process, forms a solid foundation of engagement and a great employee experience.
- Build a strong company culture – A strong culture of trust and communication makes it more likely that employees will approach a manager to discuss why they are unhappy. With two-way communication built on trust and regular feedback, you’ll have better chances of motivating a disgruntled employee to become more engaged while creating a stronger work environment.
- Recognize and reward employees – You can foster employee engagement with a culture of gratitude. Not only does showing a little appreciation increase productivity, but people will continue to do the right things for the right reasons.
- Create a recognition program – Praise doesn’t need to cost you. Everyday rewards initiatives like a handwritten note or thank-you email go a long way. Gift cards for a coffee, book or lunch will be appreciated and can be more frequent than a more formal award.
- Provide career growth opportunities – Provide employees with career opportunities such as a mentor, a choice assignment, professional development training or a promotion that reflects career progression. Such opportunities can help an engaged employee blossom into one of your top high-performers.
- Be flexible, adaptable and transparent with your workforce – When a business owner models the company’s core values, employees will understand how to reproduce them in the workplace. Sharing news while being flexible and adaptable not only helps the company through difficult times. It’s an opportunity to be a powerful role model for employees who may be struggling.
- Strive for accountability in all your employees – Fairness is a foundational concept in the workplace during good times and bad. When employees see that everyone is held accountable to a clear set of rules, a business owner will often have a better outcome in instituting cost-cutting measures, for example.
- Run team-building activities – Whether it’s a team lunch via teleconferencing or an in-person recreational activity, team building helps employees make meaningful connections with their colleagues. Positive company morale and employee engagement often go hand in hand.
- Support employee engagement outside the workplace – Giving back to the communities where you do business can be meaningful for you and your staff. Employee volunteer programs can foster engagement by increasing feelings of commitment to the company they represent while helping the community.
Accurately measuring employee engagement
Employee engagement measures track employee activity to see how engagement impacts business goals, such as increased sales, revenue, employee retention rates and other company growth indicators.
Several ways to measure employee engagement include:
- Create an employee engagement survey – You can ask about an employee’s engagement in a companywide anonymous survey or receive it in on-on-one sessions.
- Analyze retention numbers – If more employees are leaving than is typical, conduct exit interviews to uncover the root causes.
- Examine your productivity – If your company misses productivity targets, an in–depth look could point to less-than-ideal employee engagement.
- Create an in-house focus group – Include employees from different levels and departments, and consider using an outside, trained facilitator to solicit insights.
- Hire an outside consultant – Sometimes, a specially trained consultant can best assess employee engagement across operations, recommend a remediation plan for improved performance and set up measures for tracking employee engagement.
Employee engagement has several concrete benefits for any business owner. When employees feel more connected to each other, the company purpose and the customers, they tend to stay longer in their jobs and report higher employee satisfaction. Greater retention means less employee turnover, less time spent recruiting and training new hires, and more money saved due to less turnover.
Engaged employees yield higher productivity and profitability for your business by outperforming teams of disengaged employees when it comes to:
- More-satisfied customers
- Higher output
- Lower absenteeism rates
Also, engaged managers working with engaged teams are more capable of innovation and growth. Any engaged manager will need enthusiastic team members eager to work hard and meet (or exceed) company goals.
To learn more about engaging your entire workforce, download our free magazine, The Insperity guide to employee engagement .