What is employee engagement?

The key to having a driven workforce is employee engagement. But ensuring that your employees are engaged at work can be difficult, even if you have been a manager for several years.

Still, it couldn't be more important to keep your employees engaged. An organization that doesn't have engaged employees often has a high employee turnover, which can lead to your business developing a low customer satisfaction rating.

Today, we are going to explain what employee engagement is, how it benefits you, and how you can manage the employee engagement of staff in your organization with practised ease.

Employee engagement definition

There are many employee engagement definitions as employee engagement is notoriously difficult to define.

While most people think that employee engagement refers to the happiness and well being of employees, this is not the case as although an employee may seem happy at work; they may not be working hard.

Employee engagement is not just defined by employee satisfaction.

It is the absence of burnout.

A group of occupational psychologists at Utrecht University define ‘engagement’ as a fulfilling mental state or a type of positive behaviour. One that is not influenced by a particular individual, event, or object but rather impacted by a drive to succeed.

This study defines engagement further by looking at the three dimensions of employee engagement.

Vigour

This is reflected in the high level of energy an engaged employee will carry with them while they work. Vigour means that the employee is engaged enough in the task they are completing to be resilient, able to overcome any difficulties they may face while working without it taking a toll on their productivity.

Dedication

An engaged employee understands the importance of their work and takes pride in what they do. They are enthusiastic about their role within an organisation and inspired by the work of their colleagues.

Absorption

This happens when engaged employees achieve peak workflow. They are happily engrossed in their work and have difficulty detaching themselves from it if interrupted. Flow is characterised by a loss of self-consciousness and an intrinsic enjoyment of the task.

Highly engaged employees often experience a distortion of time wherein they don't realise the workday has ended until someone taps them on the shoulder.

All of this is to say; employee engagement is the emotional commitment the worker has to their organization. An engaged worker is productive because they find their job fulfilling.

Informational Interview

For employees

A person that is highly engaged during their workday has a better quality of life - they will have the energy remaining at the end of the day they need to help them practice positive mental health strategies. 

This drastically lowers the risk of burnout and means that talent can take steps to achieve their professional goals within the company without this having a negative impact on their well-being.

An engaging environment invites collaboration and communication.

This is beneficial for the well being of employees as it brings teams together. This means that they have a support network at work, as workers who are engaged understand the value of communication and usually do more good deeds during the workday.

The connection employees have with each other in an engaging environment also means that new starters often find it easier to join teams during recruitment as they are not as scared to get things wrong or ask questions in this kind of environment.

Why having engaged employees is important?

The importance of having an employee engagement strategy cannot be emphasised enough. Employee engagement has been proven to be beneficial to both the employee and the organization.

For organization

The importance of employee happiness cannot be overlooked by HR managers, as it is their job to create a culture of communication and improve the working conditions of employees.

Employees who are engaged take positive action to advance the organisation’s interests, as it's in their interest to do so since they are invested in the success of the business and enjoy the work they do. Organizations that prioritise employee engagement have double the rate of success when compared to organizations that don't, according to the Harvard Business Review

Office

An organization with a good level of workplace employee engagement has an easier time attracting and retaining top industry talent as high levels of engagement is proven to lead to improved employee retention.

This is because these organizations illustrate a willingness to create a culture of employee engagement that is designed around company values, and this is very appealing to employees.

The main drivers of employee engagement

Knowing drivers of employee engagement allows HR managers to understand the company culture and learn how staff respond to different aspects of their working experience.

Drivers of employee engagement change from field to field, company to company, department to department. Still, there are some drivers known to improve the employee engagement of every organization.

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Strong leadership

An organization may have an impeccable business plan, but without the right leaders, it is likely to fail within its first year.

The bottom line is that employees must have confidence in their employers.

If talent doesn't feel that leadership within the organization is strong enough to connect with its employees, they may begin to doubt the company's goals and question any high-level business decisions they have to make.

Therefore it is important to hire managers that are reliable, able to follow through with what they say they are going to do, so employees trust them and the company.

Focus on quality

A company with quality as its top priority will have staff with a high level of employee engagement.

If people are given 'busy work', then they will not be engaged in the workplace, but if the quality of the work they are given is high, they will be more likely to engage with it.

One of the best ways an employer can engage with its employees directly is to allow its workers to focus on the quality of their work rather than the amount of work they produce.

This approach means that members of the company will feel more fulfilled in their role as they can measure the success of the work they are proud of directly and see what its impact was.

Development and learning

Employees need work that contributes to their personal and professional development.

An organization must give its workers access to opportunities for growth and support its employees as they learn actionable skills.

It is critical that managers approach staff and encourage each employee to take advantage of those opportunities to keep them engaged in their job.

Using engagement surveys to measure employee engagement

The best way to see if your employees are engaged is to use a survey to measure their personal engagement.

What is an engagement survey?

Employee engagement surveys are questionnaires that management teams give to each employee to track the employee experience within the company.

These reviews are important as they allow managers to gain insight into employees attitudes towards their work and their overall environment.

You must measure engagement regularly. If you send out an engagement survey once or twice a year, you will not receive actionable results as employee feedback will only capture the current mood of your workforce, which could change dramatically from one month to the next.

To track employee engagement efficiently and capture the employee experience, you must distribute monthly questionnaires with questions that are specific to your company and the people that work for you.

The benefits of using engagement surveys

Although reviewing surveys can be time-consuming if you do not use culture management software, it is still worth the effort as employee engagement managers regularly mistake a happy employee for a productive employee. This can mean that your business is not well optimized or as productive as it could be.

Creating and distributing an employee engagement survey allows a management team to get an accurate understanding of their organizations’ strengths and weaknesses at any given time.

This allows them to see how the drivers of employee engagement at their organization impact the employees directly. With this information in tow, they can produce an employee engagement strategy.

These strategies help management adapt the working conditions of employees to account for the weaknesses found in the surveys without their actions, causing employees to question the companies motives.

Management can explain why the changes are being made by referring to the survey results and answer any strategic questions employees may have about how the business will move forward.

This improves employee longevity as people are more likely to build their career with a business that values their input and commitment than a business with managers that cannot answer a question when asked or adapt to the needs of their employees.

Using an engagement survey has other major employee benefits as only in a survey can people give open, honest feedback.

Employees often feel pressured to agree with the actions of a company as they may be afraid of losing their job. In using anonymous surveys, employers get to understand workplace mentality from the source without a filter.

Final thoughts

Employee engagement is key to unlocking your companies potential, and although producing employee surveys for a workplace of any size can be difficult, it can dramatically improve a companies odds of success.

An engagement survey enables a company to generate employee engagement initiatives. These initiatives help HR managers to cultivate a culture of engagement within the company. This will improve productivity and employee job satisfaction tremendously.

Today there are many companies that will do the hard work for you and produce an employee engagement survey then compile the data gotten from surveys for employers to review. We produce reports that include actionable insights based on this data. We use this information to help you create a performance-related plan that is realistic and assessable.

FAQs

What are examples of employee engagement?

Generating examples of employee engagement can be difficult if you are new to your role.

So here are three examples of how an employer could use employee engagement to engage with staff.

Dissatisfaction: An employee was dissatisfied with their last project, and they note this in their survey. Upon receiving this information, HR uses employee engagement strategies to lift the mood. The affected team is allowed to make changes to the project before it reaches higher management. The team felt more fulfilled because of this. The HR department started conducting communication meetings near the end of big projects to prevent this from happening again.

Appreciation: A team member went above and beyond to complete a project and was recognised by coworkers for this in their survey. Management recognised the employee publically for this achievement and encouraged them to attend courses to hone this skill. This led to a spike in productivity from other staff in the hope that they would receive similar opportunities in the future.

Onboarding: A new employee notes that they did not feel welcome in the workplace when they first arrived. HR notes this and assigns new starters a mentor to help with the onboarding process. They receive positive feedback from all future new starters about their onboarding experience praising the companies commitment to job satisfaction.

How do you define engagement?

Engagement is defined as the ability to be present, centred, and energized in the workplace. When employees are engaged, they are passionate about their job, meaning they invest all of their energy in what they are doing to further the company.

Engagement gives people purpose, and purpose is the foundation of engagement. One cannot exist without the other meaning for an organization to be successful, it must take steps to create an engaged culture.

How important is an engaged employee to a business?

A business is nothing without its employees.

This means that employee engagement could not be more important to the success of a business.

A study done in 2016 by Glassdoor reported that of those surveyed, 53% of employees were confident that if they were to resign from their current position, they would be able to find a similar job in as little as six months.

This research proves one thing. A company that doesn't value its employees enough to engage with them will lose them. You need to give employees a compelling reason to stay with you as they can find another job that does with ease.