07 Nov Why employee engagement matters – and 4 ways to build it up
As you know, employee engagement is an important factor in how well organizations function. But how important is it, really? Joe Wedgwood of The Happiness Index answers that question using the latest research on engagement — and he provides some helpful tips on how to improve engagement in your organization.
“Organizations with high employee engagement levels outperform their low engagement counterparts in total shareholder returns and higher annual net income.” — Kenexa.
Your people are undoubtedly your greatest asset. You may have the best product in the world, but if you can’t keep them engaged and motivated — then it counts for very little.
By making efforts to keep your people engaged, you will maximize your human capital investment and witness your efforts being repaid exponentially.
The benefits of an engaged workforce
Increase in profitability:
“Increasing employee engagement investments by 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year.” — Workplace Research Foundation.
There is a wealth of research to suggest that companies that focus on employee engagement will have an emotionally invested and committed workforce. This tends to result in higher profitability rates and shareholder returns. The more engaged your employees are the more efficient and productive they become. This will help lower operating costs and increase profit margins.
An engaged workforce will be more committed and driven to help your business succeed. By focusing on engagement and investing in your people’s future, you will create a workforce that will generate more income for your business.
Improved retention and recruitment rates:
“Replacing employees who leave can cost up to 150% of the departing employee’s salary. Highly engaged organizations have the potential to reduce staff turnover by 87%; the disengaged are four times more likely to leave the organization than the average employee.” — Corporate Leadership Council
Retaining good employees is vital for organizational success. Engaged employees are much less likely to leave, as they will be committed to their work and invested in the success of the company. They will have an increased chance of attracting more qualified people.
Ultimately the more engaged your people are, the higher their productivity and workplace satisfaction will be. This will significantly reduce costs around absences, recruitment, training and time lost for interviews and onboarding.
Boost in workplace happiness:
“Happy employees are 12%t more productive than the norm, and 22% more productive than their unhappy peers. Creating a pleasant workplace full of happy people contributes directly to the bottom line.” – Inc.
Engaged employees are happy employees, and happy employees are productive employees. A clear focus on workplace happiness, will help you to unlock everyone’s true potential. On top of this, an engaged and happy workforce can also become loyal advocates for your company. This is evidenced by the Corporate Leadership Council, “67% of engaged employees were happy to advocate their organizations compared to only 3% of the disengaged.”
Higher levels of productivity:
“Employees with the highest levels of commitment perform 20% better than employees with lower levels of commitment.” — The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Often your most engaged people will be the most dedicated and productive, which will give your bottom line a positive boost. Employees who are engaged with their role and align with the culture are more productive as they are looking beyond personal benefits. Put simply, they will work with the overall success of the organization in mind and performance will increase.
“Employee engagement plays a central role in translating additional job resources into innovative work behaviour.” — J.J. Hakanen.
Employee engagement and innovation are closely linked. Disengaged employees will not have the desire to work innovatively and think of new ways to improve your business; whereas an engaged workforce will perform at a higher level, due to increased levels of satisfaction and interest in their role. This often breeds creativity and innovation.
If your people are highly engaged they will be emotionally invested in your business. This can result in them making efforts to share ideas and innovations with you that can lead to the creation of new services and products — thus improving employee profitability.
Strategies to increase employee engagement
Every member of your team will have valuable insights, feedback and suggestions. Many will have concerns and frustrations too. Failure to effectively listen and respond to everyone will lower their engagement and negatively affect the company culture.
Create open lines of communication and ensure everyone knows how to contact you. This will create a platform for your people to share ideas, innovations and concerns with you. It will also bridge gaps between senior management and the rest of the team.
An effective way to communicate and respond to everyone in real-time is by introducing pulse surveys — which will allow you to gather instant intelligence on your people to help you understand the sentiment of your organization. You can use this feedback to create relevant action plans to boost engagement and make smarter business decisions.
Take the time to respond and share action plans with everyone. This will ensure your people know that their feedback is being heard and can really make a difference.
“The engagement level of employees who receive recognition is almost three times higher than the engagement level of those who do not.” — IBM Smarter Workforce Institute.
If your people feel undervalued or unappreciated then their performance and profitability will decrease. According to a survey conducted by technology company Badgeville, only 31% of employees are most motivated by monetary awards. The remaining 69% of employees are motivated by job satisfaction, recognition and learning opportunities.
Make efforts to celebrate good work and recognize everyone’s input. Take the time to personally congratulate people and honor their achievements and hard work. You will likely be rewarded with an engaged and energized workforce, that will make efforts to impress you and have their efforts recognized.
Provide opportunities for growth:
Career development is key for employee engagement. If your people feel like their careers are stagnating, or their hard work and emotional investment aren’t being reciprocated — then you can be certain that engagement will drop.
By meeting with your people regularly, discussing agreed targets and time frames, and clearly highlighting how they fit into the organizations wider plans, you can build a “road map” for their future. This will show that their efforts and hard work aren’t going unnoticed.
Improve company culture:
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” — Simon Sinek.
Building a culture that reflects your brand and creates a fun and productive working environment is one of the most effective ways to keep your employees engaged. It’ll also boost retention and help recruitment efforts. If your culture motivates everyone to work hard, help each other, become brand ambassadors, and even keep the place clean — then you have won the battle.
An engaged and committed workforce is a huge contributor to any organization’s bottom line. The rightculture will be a catalyst to help you achieve this.
Here’s how you can improve the company culture within your organization:
- Empower your people: Empowered employees will take ownership of their responsibilities, solve problems and do whatever it takes to help your company succeed. This will drive your company culture forward. Demonstrate you have faith in your people and trust them to fulfill their duties to their best of their abilities. This will ensure they feel valued, which can lead to empowerment.
- Manage and communicate expectations: Your people may struggle to understand your cultural vision. By setting clear and regular expectations and communicating your vision via posters, emails, discussions and leading by example, you will prevent confusion and limit deviation from your desired vision.
- Be consistent: To sustain a consistent culture, you must show uniformity with your actions and communications. Make efforts to have consistent expectations and standards for all your workers, and communicate everything in the same way.
By focusing on employee engagement and investing in your people, they will repay your efforts with an increase in performance, productivity and — ultimately — profit.
Joe Wedgwood is a content & PR executive at The Happiness Index. He is also a published journalist and blogger with a passion for employee engagement and HR. Previously having worked as a language teacher, counselor and content manager at a recruitment agency — he has developed a broad set of skills and a strong interest in working with people to learn what makes them tick.