Editorial

22 Oct 2021

How To Improve Employee Engagement

Two employees looking at a laptop display.

People are your most valuable assets. There is no doubt about that statement because, without people, you cannot run a business. Unfortunately, despite the fact that this sounds very logical and common sense, it seems to be not enough for all businesses out there as they still do not manage their employees in an efficient way which leads to underperforming departments or, even worse, disengaged employees!

This article will focus on how to improve employee engagement by explaining what it means, why we should care about it and lastly, give some tips on how to achieve better results with our workforce. First of all, let's define "employee engagement".

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is defined as the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals.

Many organisations are struggling with high turnover rates, which cost them money, time and resources in order to find new employees that would fit their expectations. Besides this issue, there are two other important points why you should care about your workforce: if an organisation doesn't have engaged employees, it will experience higher absenteeism or presenteeism (when people come into work but they do not perform at a satisfactory level).

In general, these factors affect business performance which leads us directly to our third point - customer satisfaction! When we don't take good care of our workers, we cannot expect them to deliver excellent services to customers, which in the end will result in a decline in sales.

Is Employee Engagement The Same As Employee Satisfaction?

In today's competitive market, it is difficult to retain employees and engage them in the organisation.

Employee engagement means that an individual is committed towards their work, has a desire to contribute for the betterment of company goals and is willing to go beyond the call of duty.

Employee satisfaction is defined as the degree of happiness or discontent with the job. It's a subjective measure, which means that it depends on individual perspectives and varies from person to person.

An engaged employee does not just have some pleasant feelings about their work, but they are emotionally connected to your company goals through a clear vision, mission statement, values etc. At the same time, satisfied employees don't go beyond what's expected of them in terms of delivering results for business growth. They simply do enough tasks required towards achieving organisational set targets without taking an interest in its overall prosperity.

What Is 'Total Employee Experience'?

The modern workforce is no longer just made up of "employees," but also contract workers, freelancers and consultants. The total employee experience (TEE) refers to the complete setup that organisations provide for employees, not just their perks, packages or salaries, but how they work together as teams and what resources are available to them.

The 7 Top Advantages Of Employee Engagement

Higher Employee Retention

Research shows disengaged employees are more likely to quit than those who feel a connection with and enthusiasm for what they do. If you've ever been on the receiving end of an employee's resignation letter, or have delivered one yourself, then you should be aware of how much damage this can cause to any organisation. Human resources departments are having difficulty convincing employees to stay, so focusing on engaging them better might be the solution. 

Increased Productivity

Employee engagement has been found to increase productivity. This is because employees feel more valued and know that their opinions matter, which makes them want to work harder for the company they care about. Ultimately the increase in productivity where employee do more, will be seen in the bottom line of the company. 

Higher Morale

This only works as long as everyone feels like they're being treated fairly and equally within a company's employment structure – but this becomes even more important when workers are not engaged with their jobs. If there is no sense of fairness or equality among employees, it can lead to lower morale across the board - potentially leading some people who might otherwise be productive members of your workforce into disengagement or, worse yet, leaving altogether.

Enhanced Innovation and Creativity

When an employee isn't engaged in their work, it's easy to feel like they're not passionate about their role or the organisation. This can make them less likely to contribute ideas or think outside of the box when needed for more creative solutions or action plans.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

Employee engagement can lead to increased customer satisfaction. This is because employees feel valued when they are able to use their skills and abilities in the workplace, which also benefits customers since companies with engaged workers tend to have higher levels of productivity, better service quality, fewer safety incidents, lower turnover rates and greater profitability.

When company leaders show that they care about each individual employee's well-being by offering opportunities for training in new skills or ways of improving current ones, it helps build trust between company leadership and workforce members. It's one thing for a business leader to say something like, "Your career advancement depends on you!" but another thing entirely to make it possible for employees to advance in their careers.

Lower Absenteeism

Employee engagement can lead to reduced absenteeism. Research shows when employees are engaged at work, they tend not to miss as many days of work because they feel a sense of purpose and pride in what they do. There is no question that having more happy and satisfied employees leads directly to increased revenue for your business.

Improved Employee Health And Safety

Employee Engagement has been found to improve employee health and safety. When employees feel less stressed, they are more likely to take the necessary precautions at work, such as wearing a hard hat or gloves when needed.

What Drives Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is a tough nut to crack. Especially given the fact that it can vary from company to company and person to person, what drives employee engagement for one may not drive another's. In addition, other factors such as how much an individual values autonomy or creativity also affect their level of engagement at work.

So while there are no universal guidelines on what makes employees engaged in their work, we'll take a look below at some pointers that should help you increase your own level of engagement with your employees over time. These considerations should be considered in a company's employee engagement strategy. 

Employee-Employee

Creating an accountability culture is essential for how employees impact each other in the workplace. If we expect employees to be accountable, it should be evident that the organisation embraces an accountability culture.

No one likes to be around negative people. It's exhausting! So another key driver of employee engagement is employee to employee attitudes about work and the company! If something isn't going the way it was intended, try thinking of ways for employees to share learnings in order to achieve planned outcomes. Collaboration with others in finding solutions could be an excellent additional aspect to add to the drivers of employee engagement, rather than wasting time pointing fingers instead of presenting options or alternatives.

Developing leadership skills at all levels can be a valuable driver of employee engagement. In this instance, the priority is in unlocking the influence level within employees to assist in the realisation of the company goals and vision. With high levels of leadership and influence within employees, setting an example for others will make a massive difference.

Employee-Manager

First, managers could take more time to listen and understand the concerns that employees might have. Then they can work on what exactly is needed to help employees improve their engagement.

Managers should lead by example and have an open-door policy so that employees can approach them with any questions or concerns. This can be a huge driver in motivation and employee engagement. Employee feedback is an essential way to reward employees for seeking guidance or proposing improvements to the business. 

Managers are advised to provide feedback to their team members about their work, even if it is negative. However, managers need to ensure that they are constructive and not overly critical of the employee's performance during these exchanges. They also need to be consistent in giving affirmation for good job performance as well. Employee recognition has been shown to significantly boost employee morale. 

Understanding what motivates employees is another key driver in employee engagement. This way, managers can communicate effectively to motivate employees to make a difference.

Company-Employee

Eliminate the fear of speaking up. If an employee has a problem, they shouldn't be afraid to speak up and ask for help or advice from their manager. This helps build trust in the company and with each other. Companies often make use of policies to support their staff throughout the whole chain of command.

Encourage professional development outside of work hours. Employees should see that it's not only essential to do your job well at work but also outside of work as well. Maybe you like coaching soccer on weekends? Or maybe have a hobby writing songs? Either way, employees want recognition when they go above and beyond, so this would be a great place to start! Companies that openly encourage and support employees in their extracurricular activities can expect higher levels of employee engagement and improved life balance.

Acknowledge achievements. Everyone wants praise when they get something done correctly, whether it is at home or at work. It's important to recognise when something is done well, even if it wasn't your doing! Recognising and rewarding good outcomes provide a positive feedback loop, and the chances of repeating success will increase.

Embracing change can improve employee engagement. Change can either make or break a company and its employees, so don't be afraid to try new things in the office and with your team members. Sometimes they will stick, other times not, but you never know what works best until you give it a go! Employee engagement initiatives will vary for different companies, however they all have the same goal: committed and satisfied employees. 

Who Has The Most Impact On Employee Engagement?

Ultimately all three of the above-mentioned areas are critical to driving employee engagement, and a balanced approach will ensure that employees grow in their connection with the company. Employee to employee interaction is often the most influential aspect of employee engagement. 

An employee often feels safest in their "tribe" and often opens up to team members instead of the chain of command. A manager's actions can also have a huge impact on employee engagement too. A trusting relationship between management and their employees means that the employees will feel safe to come to them with any problems or issues they may be facing, which is key in driving up productivity. 

Additionally, if the company embraces policies aligned with the company vision and their strategic objective, this can go a long way to support the employees when the going gets tough. Companies need to ensure that what they say on paper don't get labelled as lip service, which might scare employees away and degrade the commitment the employee already has.

How Do You Gather Data On Employee Satisfaction?

Employee satisfaction surveys and other assessment tools provide insight into how employees feel about their workplace. Designing a questionnaire that provides actionable, valuable data is a crucial step in improving employee engagement

There are many different types of assessment tools, and each will gather different kinds of information from employee survey results. The key to success in the gathering of data is in the communication of actionable outcomes based on your findings.

How Do You Measure Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement surveys and other assessment tools can provide insight into how employees feel about their workplace. Designing a questionnaire that provides actionable, valuable data is a crucial step in improving employee engagement.

Good managers know they need to keep an eye out for red flags such as increased turnover or high absenteeism among staff members, but it's not always easy to tell if those changes reflect problems with morale or job satisfaction rather than performance-related issues like workload concerns or unrealistic deadlines.

Employee engagement surveys allow you to measure factors at work that impact how employees feel. This could be anything from company culture to compensation practices or even benefits.

How Should You Track and Record Employee Engagement?

You need to track and record employee engagement as it can improve or negatively affect your business. Not knowing how engaged your employees are with their work is the main reason why some organisations fail at improving productivity and maintaining good company culture. That's why you should know what exactly "employee engagement" means, its importance for companies like yours, and how to measure it before anything else.

You could consider using employee engagement software to provide you with the needed metrics. This software tracks the performance of your employees in real-time, letting you know how satisfied they are with their work at any given moment. With this information on hand, it's much easier to improve employee engagement and address issues that might come up in order for them to be more productive in what they do every day.

Pulse surveys is an excellent way to keep track of how employees feel by sending out regular sets of survey questions in order to monitor employee engagement over a period of time.

If you don't want to use software, then just record daily feedback from your staff via a simple questionnaire or an informal chat during coffee breaks. Make sure not only managers but also regular workers take part in these sessions, so no one is left out when it comes to giving opinions about workplace satisfaction levels, among other things.

4 Key Ways To Enable Employee Engagement

Leadership

Leadership is all about connecting with your employees and creating spheres of influence. Employee engagement is a result of employee-manager relationships and friendships at work.

Leadership should take an active interest in the well being of their team members, both personally and professionally. This will encourage employees to become more engaged with their work environment which can lead to better results for your company. An example of how leadership can do this is by instituting daily check-ins to determine how the team is doing and to identify any worrying signs that employees may be down. 

It's important that leaders create spaces where employees feel free from judgment or scrutiny when asking questions about how things are done around the office. Employees who have been able to ask questions without fear of reprisal tend to be happier and more productive.

Line Managers

Line managers have considerable responsibility in regard to engagement. If they are not engaging with their employees, the employees will likely disengage from work and have poor morale. It is important for line managers to lead by example and engage with everyone on an equal level, regardless of position or seniority. 

When speaking about employee engagement, it's good to remember that having happy workers isn't enough; your people must be productive too. Line managers should provide training when needed and make sure that all staff members feel like they can come forward if there is anything bothering them at work without fear of repercussions (positive or negative).

Line Managers need to take time out every day/week/month to call up high-performing individuals within their team or branch and ask how things are going for them. This might be called an "employee of the month" style program, or you could simply take time every day to talk with someone in your team who is excelling and ask how they are doing. Try not to do it too often, though, as employees will expect this if done all the time; once a week or less should suffice.

The best line managers, however, do all of this and also go the extra mile. They like to check in with low performing individuals within their team and ask how they are getting on.

Employee Voice

Allowing employees to voice their opinions without retribution is one example of how the employee voice can enable engagement. As employees see other employees voice their opinions, this will show them that it's okay to speak about how you feel and that engaging behaviour contributes to the success of the business.

By allowing employees to give their opinion, the organisation will see how they operate and if there are any areas that need improvement. Allowing this type of feedback ensures that company goals can be reached in an effective way without too many roadblocks along the way. Employees who feel heard often show higher levels of discretionary effort, which is the backbone of every business. The people who go the extra mile. 

Employee voice is a great tool for improving employee engagement because it allows organisations to know what's working within their business plan or process and where improvements could be made. Employees who feel like their opinions matter will want to stay with the organisation long term and deliver their best work, which contributes towards creating engaged staff members.

Organisational Integrity 

When an organisation is honest and transparent about its values, it can engage employees in ways that boost productivity and create sustainable growth. Through organisational integrity, employees learn that the truth is the best way to solve problems and learn from past mistakes. 

One of the main reasons why employees hide the truth is because they have a natural fear of the consequences of their mistakes. Companies who encourage their employees to openly discuss errors will set them at ease that no one is perfect, and the way to perfection is through trial and error.

7 Key Ways To Improve Employee Engagement

1. Employer Branding

Employer Branding helps create a positive image of the company with three core messages: what the company can offer to its candidates, how it treats these candidates and why this is important for them individually. 

This all creates an authentic impression on future employees who will feel more engaged in their jobs after becoming aware of this information about the business. A strong brand has been shown to increase job satisfaction, which results in increased productivity within workplaces that have implemented Employer Branding strategies into their hiring process.

Employers should be sure that they are correctly communicating messages that resonate with individuals looking for employment opportunities.

2. Candidate Experience

The experiences employees have at your company can impact their level of engagement and productivity.

If they feel like their experience during the interview process was positive, it can lead to them feeling more engaged with your company as a whole. Thus, hiring managers should make an effort to provide candidates with the best candidate experiences possible by focusing on.

The word of existing employees will go a long way in determining what potential employees and new employees believe about your business will go a long way. Treating your employees with care and respect will ensure that they communicate their experiences with other employees.

3. Onboarding Processes

Employees want to know they are valued and appreciated. One way of showing this appreciation is by providing employees with onboarding processes when they first start working for the company. Onboarding is a critical step in the employee lifecycle. 

Onboarding processes allow new members to become familiarised with their surroundings, understand what is expected from them in terms of work ethic, socialise with other team members outside the office environment and understand the business outcomes required for success. This helps reduce stress levels and improve productivity because employees feel welcome and comfortable in a place where they will be spending most of their waking hours during the weekdays.

In order for employee engagement programs to have long-lasting effects on staff morale, managers should put more effort into creating engaging programs such as these initial interactions rather than just stopping after one or two months.

4. Referral Programs

Employee referral programs are an excellent way to tap into the network of your top employees and learn more about their perspective on what is important, as well as how this aligns with company goals. Employees who have been successful in making referrals on sites like Linkedin, can share success stories that will help you better understand why they made these decisions, which could be for any number of reasons. 

This information can then be extrapolated outwards to other employees so that they, too, are empowered to make valuable referrals when appropriate. When feedback loops are working properly within your organisation, it quickly becomes apparent if there is misalignment between the vision at senior levels versus where front line staff stand or even sit along the employee value proposition spectrum (EVP).

5. Employee Development

The key to increasing employee engagement is by developing, training and empowering your employees. This can be done through coaching, mentoring or simply providing the tools necessary for them to do their job better. Employees who are offered development opportunities often display higher morale and commitment to work. 

Many employers are concerned about training employees only for them to leave, for a better opportunity after. This is an understandable concern, but just imagine training and developing employees who end up staying with their improved skills and knowledge. This is what employee engagement is all about, creating a workplace in which your employee is emotionally invested.

6. Performance Management

Rewarding employees for their contribution to the company is a great way to improve employee engagement. For performance management, this might mean celebrating milestones such as promotions and yearly reviews at work picnics or having an office cake day where each manager can bring in cakes that celebrate their teams' accomplishments throughout the year. 

Managers should take time every quarter (or month) to sit down with their performance reviews and discuss what went well and what didn't go so well during the past few weeks/months. These conversations will help employees keep team members on track towards meeting goals while also recognising when they've done something particularly awesome! By taking these steps, you're showing your employee that you care about them both professionally and personally, leading to higher employee engagement.

7. Succession Planning

When a company is planning for succession, it's important to consider who will be there in the future and how they can help realise business outcomes aligned with the vision. This is especially relevant when considering employee engagement because satisfied employees are more likely to stick around. If you're able to understand what kinds of people your successors need to be successful at their job, then keeping them engaged might not seem so difficult after all!

How Do You Make Engagement A Priority At Work?

Making employee engagement a priority at work means you have to emphasise the urgency and importance of high levels of employee engagement. If the people in the business understand the value of employee engagement, they will be more likely to support the change. A good way of making employee engagement a priority is by showing how it can help you achieve your business goals and create an exceptional customer experience, which in turn helps generate revenue.

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