Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work. Employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. Employee engagement is a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organization's goals, objectives and values, encouraged to contribute to organizational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being.
Employee engagement is the emotional connection an employee experiences that results in a willingness to expend discretionary effort at work. Truly engaged employees reflect a company's respect for its workforce, which, in turn, can be seen in employees' job satisfaction and pride of ownership in their work.
The importance of employee engagement can't be overstated. Employee engagement strategies have been proven to reduce staff turnover, improve productivity and efficiency, retain customers at a higher rate, and make more profits. Most importantly, engaged employees are happier, both at work and in their lives.
Importance of employee engagement
Organizations with high levels of employee engagement are thought to be more profitable and have higher customer satisfaction ratings than organizations with low levels; they also have less absenteeism and turnover, according to ongoing studies from Gallup and other research organizations. In a competitive hiring market, engaged staff members who feel they have good work-life balance and high levels of employee satisfaction are less likely to return a headhunter's call.
On the flip side, disengaged employees can create a negative atmosphere that can be contagious and damaging to a company's reputation and, ultimately, its bottom line.
A company with demonstrable employee satisfaction will find it easier to hire new workers, and studies have shown that engaged employees can boost stock prices and shareholder returns. A culture of engagement will also make onboarding easier, leading to new employees becoming productive at a faster rate.
When it comes to activities that foster employee engagement, there are many options. Many companies focus on employee engagement from the beginning, through interactive and compelling onboarding activities that explain the culture and encourage early camaraderie.
Some employers use goal setting to aid in employee engagement, offering weekly or monthly goals to boost employee enthusiasm. Others focus on teamwork, as studies show the more friends employees have at work, the more engaged they are. Employee engagement can also be aided by concrete steps, such as career development opportunities, company-paid education options, flexible hours that can promote work-life balance and even on-site childcare.
Technology for engagement
While many different types of technology can have a positive impact on employee engagement, gamification platforms and enterprise social collaboration products often explicitly include increased employee engagement in their value propositions.
Gamification platforms offer a visual way to train, communicate vital information and create camaraderie through entertaining visuals. Many companies also offer chat groups or pages where like-minded employees can "gather" around subjects of interest, like gardening or vintage cars.
Performance management software, while not explicitly a tool of engagement, can be used, along with workforce analytics, to identify groups in need of a greater emphasis on engagement.
Measuring employee engagement
Traditionally, employee engagement has been measured through surveys, although that strategy is increasingly seen as not accurate. Instead, some experts suggest asking simple questions to get a rough measurement of employee engagement. A "yes" answer to the following questions would indicate a company enjoys higher employee engagement:
Do employees arrive early?
Do clusters of people lunch together?
Are there group outings?
Can employees come together for a community service project or a charity?
Are employee turnover rates going down?
Do employees recommend the company to friends?
Employee engagement may also be observed with social network analytics and sentiment mining tools.
Employee Engagement surveys
It is estimated that a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged. Many companies are experiencing a crisis of engagement and aren't aware of it. Engagement surveys are not always an accurate measure of true engagement, according to new research. The research, by Ashridge Executive Education, Engage For Success and Oracle, revealed that engagement is still a significant issue. Only a quarter (25%) of teams were found to be engaged and almost a third (32%) were actively disengaged.
The findings suggested that engagement surveys may not be an accurate reflection as teams are not simply either engaged or disengaged. The researchers said that team engagement comes in ‘shades of grey’, with teams also able to be just ‘satisfied’ or presenting an illusion of engagement because that is what the organisation wants to hear.
The research uncovered four different engagement types. The first was the ‘zone of disengagement’, the category which 32% of teams fell into. These teams were found to be inward-looking, had cliques, high levels of mistrust, and team members described themselves as over-worked, stressed or burnt out.
In the zone of contentment (21%) team members do the minimum amount of work required and do not seek stretch or challenge. The researchers found that 14% of teams initially perceived by their organisations to be highly engaged actually fell into this ‘contented’ category.
In the zone of pseudo-engagement (21%) team members played the system to serve their own needs – stretching workloads to fill time for example – and giving managers the illusion that they are engaged because that is what management wants to hear.
The ideal level was the zone of engagement (25%), where teams are active and solutions-focused, and where there is a positive atmosphere, a high degree of connectivity, and team members support each other personally and professionally.
(Courtesy : SearchHRSoftware)