What is Employee Engagement and Why Should I Care?
Employee engagement stands as a pivotal topic in current business discussions, resonating across platforms ranging from popular publications such as Forbes and Fast Company to influential bloggers, HR professionals, executives, and managers. While the topic of employee engagement is not new, it has gained unprecedented momentum recently.
Because study after study demonstrates a strong correlation between high levels of employee engagement and better corporate performance. “Engagement” is emerging as one of the key competitive differentiators in today’s business landscape.
According to SHRM, highly engaged employees were five times less likely to quit their positions compared to their less engaged counterparts. 🤯 This statistic alone highlights the pivotal role of employee engagement in ensuring workforce stability and talent retention. A recent Globoforce and Society for Human Resource Management survey determined that “As human capital becomes the foremost challenge for companies worldwide, employee engagement is mission-critical for an increasing number of organizations.”
Employee engagement used to be just a small part of how companies manage their people, mainly handled by the HR department. But now, it's a crucial and central part of what makes a company successful. It's not on the sidelines anymore; it's right at the core of what helps a business thrive.
All of which is to say: if you’re not thinking about how to engage your employees, you should be — and you’ve probably got a bit of catching up to do.
But first: what is engagement? For such a critical issue, it’s admittedly hard to quantify. Engaged employees are typically described as passionate, committed, and enthusiastic — not just about their job, but the company they work for and its overall mission and goals. An engaged employee is aware of both immediate, tactical goals, as well as long-term, strategic ones, and — this part is crucial — proactively works to advance both.
As author Caroline Castrillon writes in Forbes, to get employee buy-in and boost employee engagement, you need to integrate the company’s long-term vision and values into the day-to-day business operations. When employees have a strong understanding of the firm's core values and how they impact the company, they are more likely to feel inspired and motivated. The intertwining of individual goals with organizational objectives becomes a catalyst for sustained engagement.
Before you can impact employee engagement, you have to understand the state of employee engagement at your organization. The signs of an unengaged workforce are myriad: missed deadlines, poor customer service, careless (and costly) mistakes, and employees who clock out as soon as possible. Companies with employees who aren’t engaged experience higher shrinkage rates, higher employee turnover, and ultimately, lower profits.
Like numbers? Gallup provides an impressive group of statistics on the effect of engagement on a variety of workplace issues:
- In companies with low worker engagement, employees take 37 percent more sick days.
- Inventory shrinkage at companies with low engagement rates is 28 percent greater than at those with high engagement.
- Companies with high engagement levels experience 48 percent fewer safety incidents.
- Product defects are up to 41 percent less common in companies with highly engaged employees.
Companies with high engagement levels have 25-65 percent better employee retention rates than companies with low engagement.
Ultimately, this is what you risk if your employees’ engagement level is low:
- Customer Satisfaction levels that are up to 10 percent lower
- Employees who are 21 percent less productive
- A business with 22 percent lower profits
The question then becomes not why organizations should care about employee engagement, but rather, how can they afford not to? The risks associated with low employee engagement are not confined to HR metrics; they pose a direct threat to the health and future success of a business. It goes beyond creating a positive work environment; it becomes an imperative for fostering innovation, driving productivity, and ensuring long-term sustainability.
Engaged employees emerge as catalysts for positive change within an organization. They go beyond fulfilling their job descriptions; they actively contribute to the success of the organization. They willingly go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction, identify and address inefficiencies in work processes, and contribute to a positive workplace culture. While some organizations may resort to policies, micromanagement, and a culture of fear in an attempt to instigate such behaviors, the most effective and sustainable approach is to cultivate a workplace where employees genuinely feel appreciated and derive fulfillment from their work. Building a culture of appreciation and engagement is not just a strategic move; it is an investment in creating a healthier and more sustainable work environment that pays dividends in the long run. Engaged employees make your job easier.
The path to fostering employee engagement requires a holistic approach that permeates every facet of organizational dynamics. From leadership strategies that prioritize employee well-being to cultivating a culture that values contributions and individual empowerment, organizations must recognize that engagement is not a one-size-fits-all solution but a continuous journey. As the business landscape continues to evolve, one thing remains constant—the undeniable link between engaged employees and organizational success. 🎉
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