What is Employee Engagement? [Tips & Trends]

In this techy era, we always go extra mile for our employees. But, do they reciprocate those efforts? Employee engagement is the key and it’s more than anything a pat on the back.

With the hunt for securing and retaining talent being more challenging than ever, human resources teams need to make creative efforts to foster employee engagement.

Continue reading to learn more about the importance of employee engagement, or jump straight to our lists of tips & trends in 2019.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is a way to create a great environment and culture that could strengthen employee connection with their organization.

This attachment can motivate them to give their best every day, understand and efficiently execute their role within the, and feel enthusiastic about doing so.

Some managers confuse employee engagement with employee satisfaction.

In fact, they are, two separate things – and ’s how they differ:

One can have a satisfied employee for their organization, but that does not indicate what they are doing is sufficient for the organization.

However, if the same employee is engaged, it will contribute a lot towards their overall performance, enabling them to effectively carry out their tasks.

They may even prepare or plan out future tasks, find ways to optimize various processes or assist other teams with their projects, etc.

This ‘ engagement’ results, and adds value to the organization, and contributes to its long-term growth and sustainability.

How to Recognize Engaged Employees?

We can simply understand that Engaged employees work for something more just than just a paycheck.

Instead, they are driven by their passion to go above and beyond the call of duty. And achieve milestone after milestone for their organization.

So, as a manager, recognizing engaged employees, and identifying the disengaged ones, can go a long way in determining your team’s weak strengths and weaknesses.

This table compares the key characteristics of the two:

Always put the company’s interests above their ownWork for their own interests, even if they don’t align with the company’s goals
Are proactive and do more than what’s requiredNeed constant reminders and never take initiatives
Maintain strong communication with colleaguesDon’t make efforts to communicate with their teams
Focus on bringing solutions to the tableComplain about existing issues
Love their work, regardless of the dayLove certain aspects/days of their work

Employee Engagement In Numbers

Everything can be better understood in the form of statistics. So here we have some stats to understand the importance of engaged employees –

  • According to a report published by Gallup, highly engaged teams generated 21% higher profits.
  • Research done by The Engagement Institute found that disengaged employees cost $450 to $550 billion per year (approx.) to US companies.
  • A report by Gallup in the year 2017 mentioned that engaged employees can help boost productivity by 17%.
  • According to a report, organizations that focus on employee engagement reduced turnover rates by 40%.
  • Employee engagement can reduce workplace absenteeism by 40%.

How Employers Benefit From Employee Engagement?

To understand the importance of employee engagement further, and how it can shape or deflate an organization. Let’s have a look at the benefits from the perspectives of both, employers and employees.

Here are a few major ways employers benefit from employee engagement:

1. Engaged Employees Are Emotionally Invested

An employee who has an emotional connection with their employer and the organization, understand that they’re part of something bigger than themselves.

Such individuals are self-motivated, enthusiastic about their jobs, and find satisfaction in working for the betterment of the – characteristics of an ideal profile.

For example, Komatsu – a Japanese of equipment – experienced a 37% rise in employee engagement after investing in a month-long leadership development program that focused on EI (emotional intelligence) skills.

2. Employee Engagement Boosts Productivity

An engaged employee will always strive to complete their tasks on time, and then some.

The concerns of engaged employees aren’t limited to their own job. They about the organization as a whole, and contribute wherever they can.

This means that they’re motivated to volunteer and make discretionary efforts, which result in greater satisfaction and higher productivity.

3. Employee Engagement Can Reduce Your Turnover Rate

According to Gallup’s reports, the turnover rate for Millennial employees alone costs the US economy somewhere around $30.5 billion per year – which includes everything from hiring expenses to the cost of training new employees.

Employee engagement is the key to retain the team and keep the company turnover rate under control. On average, engaged employees remain more dedicated to their jobs when compared to the disengaged employee.

Gallup found that organizations with engaged units experienced 67% lower turnover rates than those with disengaged and unmotivated employees.

4. Employee Engagement Can Cut Down Workplace Absenteeism

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US employers collectively lose $225.8 billion each year because of employee absenteeism.

The main cause of this loss is low productivity, such as overtime bonuses, loss of sales, and more.

While there are an of reasons for workplace absenteeism, low morale and stress are two culprits most employers miss – both, textbook symptoms of disengagement.

As per Gallup’s findings, the companies that focus on employee engagement experience lower employee absenteeism. A disengaged employee may not show their original strength to work every day.

5. It Can Improve Customer Satisfaction

Engaged employees are more passionate about satisfying their customers. They are consistent with the efforts in dealing with the public, regardless of the day or time.

An engaged employee will interact with a customer at 5 PM with the same potential and energy as they would at 11 AM.

Ideally, every person in your organization should be engaged. Workers who regularly come in contact with customers (like sales agents, customer reps, cashiers, etc.) must be all in if you want to deliver a delightful employee experience.

Since all clients or customers need to be treated with courtesy and respect, having an engaged team of professionals that go above and beyond will help you:

  • Create strong, fruitful relationships.
  • Strengthen your brand’s image.
  • Retain your customers.

In fact, according to one source, seven out of ten people will spend about 13% more on a with the superior customer, in large part thanks to customers leaving positive reviews about your business.

6. Engaged Employees Can Be Easily Motivated To Grow And Learn

Apart from the promise of a steady paycheck, work-life balance, and some other incentives, the modern workforce expects growth opportunities from their employers.

To get an engaged employee on board with a training and development program is super easy. Such employees seek challenges and grow as professionals to take their careers to the next level.

This opens the door to employees exploring additional skill sets, taking on further responsibilities, or moving into managerial roles as a way of professional growth.

How Employees Benefit From Employee Engagement?

To discuss the benefits of employee engagement for employees, we’ll have to look at why employee engagement works.

1. Employee Engagement Results In A Happier Team

On average, the organizations that view employees as resources, instead of individuals, report lower satisfaction, morale, and productivity.

The best characteristic of organizations that promote employee engagement is that they shouldn’t resort to traditional, harsh methods of ensuring productivity and performance, such as strict punishment policies.

Instead, they use tactics like one-on-one employee feedback sessions, creative reward policies, unique incentive programs, and public recognition for jobs well done, among others.

Ultimately, such employee-oriented tactics result in happier employees – allowing them to work hard, complete goals, and enjoy the entire process.

2. Engagement Positively Affects The Personal Lives Of Your Employees

An interesting Kansas State study concluded that engaged and motivated employees led happier lives at home.

According to a study, positive experiences in the workplace can lead to family interactions and influence personal lives.

This makes sense.

Working (daily) in an environment that accepts individuality, encourages personal growth, and provides educational resources and unique incentives, among other things, results in a positive mind state over time.

Being able to show up to a low-stress, fun, and engaging environment everyday, allows employees to leave in a good mood when they clock out.

3. It Can Make Employees Healthier

Apart from psychological health, employee participation can also contribute to your team’s physical fitness.

Another fascinating report by Gallup which concentrated on the relationship between employee engagement and the structure of employees discovered that participated employees’ exercise and leads to healthier lifestyles.

By comparing three categories of employees, labeled “Engaged,” “Not Engaged,” and “Actively Disengaged,” they found:

  • 54% of “Engaged” employees said that they exercised at least 30 minutes each day. Whereas 59% said that they ate healthy meals the day before the survey.
  • 49% of “Not Engaged” employees exercised and 54% followed a healthy diet.
  • 45% of “Actively Disengaged” employees reported exercising for 30 minutes daily, whereas 53% consumed healthy foods.

Also, previous research by Gallup found that engaged employees are “less likely to be obese and develop chronic diseases.”

8 Tips To Foster A Culture Of Employee Engagement

The benefits that come with engaging your employees are great for everyone, but how can you, as a manager, realistically foster a culture of employee engagement?

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Devise A Formal On-and Training Process

Employee engagement starts from day one.

New employees expect complete clarity on what’s expected of them. The exact set of responsibilities and how their roles fit into the bigger picture.

Never assume that they don’t need detailed information, regardless of their previous experience(s).

By going through an – process and receiving these guidelines, your new employees won’t feel frustrated or confused.

Instead of that, from day one, they’ll be motivated to take initiative and try to make an impact.

To make the process smoother, follow these tips:

  • Communicate the workplace culture that includes the organization’s values and norms.
  • Schedule one-on-one meetings with other team members and introduce them to the gang.
  • Provide the new employee with an employee handbook and assign them a mentor/buddy.
  • Assign simple and easy tasks in the beginning. Don’t test all their responsibilities at once.
  • Familiarize them with the tools that your use, for example, a CMS, CRM platform, intranet, etc.

Apart from the process, you also need to establish an effective training program.

The program should target all of the employees old and new. Here are some highlights to help you train your employees the right way:

  • By assessing the areas that need improvement, for example, cyber-security, workplace ethics, etc. For all new employees, we should follow a standard training protocol.
  • Communicate the learning objectives of the training program. For example, if the program focuses on new software, let your employees know the benefits of familiarizing themselves with the new platform and how it could benefit the whole organization in the long run.
  • Design learning material that is easy to comprehend. You can make slideshows, PDF files, and videos, among others.
  • If you have a large workforce to train, consider investing in the best learning management system.

2. Acknowledge All Of Your Employees

Developing an emotional connection with someone who does not acknowledge you is quite impossible for anyone. While acknowledging the employees won’t guarantee engagement by itself, a lack thereof will result in disengagement.

A manager already has some much on their table so praising their team member for every little accomplishment might not be their cup of tea.

However, it can boost employee morale.

A 2013 Globoforce study found that 89% of employees felt more motivated when told that whatever they were doing was right.

While that may raise some questions regarding constructive feedback. It points towards a simple act of acknowledgment and the effects of micromanagement (more on that later).

Follow these tips to acknowledge your employees:

  • Greet everyone who crosses your path and ask them about their day.
  • We should always reward and praise the employee who goes out of their way in front of their whole team.
  • Give your employees a time to time reminder of roles and efforts to keep the business grow.
  • Involve employees in decision-making processes and ask for their opinions to show that they matter.

Such actions, though seemingly minor, will create positive impacts if taken consistently over time.

3. Set & Communicate Your’s Goals

Running a business without goals is like swimming in an ocean without a life-saving jacket.

New employees need to know how they will contribute to the overall success of their team. And existing employees need updates on the ’s existing goals.

However, it all starts with you: First, you have to define your goals:

  • Analyze what you need to get to the next level. A goal that doesn’t help you grow isn’t worth the effort.
  • Use the S.M.A.R.T. technique i.e. make the goals specific, measurable, achievable/actionable, realistic, and time-bound. The best example of a SMART goal is: “closing XYZ sales by the end of the 2nd quarter.”
  • To make your vision attainable set monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annual goals.
  • Engage your employees by involving them in the goal-setting process.
  • After setting your goals, create plans to achieve them. For example, if your goal is to “generate X amount of leads in Y months,” one of your plans could be to create a lead generation asset to encourage people to sign up.

Once you’ve set your goals and created a game plan, you must communicate them:

  • Have meetings once a week, or twice a month, to discuss progress, provide a refresher on existing goals, and/or discuss future goals.
  • If you’re using project management or team collaboration tools, such as Asana, Slack, or Trello, create a separate folder/card where you list down all relevant, organizational goals.
  • Get a whiteboard or a pinboard for your workplace and write/pin down current goals for your employees to see. To make things more engaging you can hang a metal bell, so whenever you achieve the goal or see a milestone you can ring that every time.

4. Provide The Resources Necessary To Achieve Goals

At times, employees are ready to buckle down and get things done but aren’t given the proper tools/resources necessary to work efficiently, or comfortably.

These resources could be anything, including a fast computer with working peripherals, software that makes the job easier, guides to help employees succeed, or even coffee on tap.

When employees aren’t provided these resources, they can get frustrated, stressed, and demotivated – all of which results in disengagement.

To steer clear of this problem:

  • Create a monthly budget for the provision and maintenance of critical resources separately.
  • Assess what the team needs from time to time. You can have one-on-one meetings with your employees and ask them what they need. If it’s in the best interest of them, consider getting those things.

It is not enough to encourage employees to work hard or get things done, employers must also provide all the means required for them to do so.

5. Remove Barriers To Communication (between employees & top management)

According to a report by The McKinsey Global Institute, organizations where employees felt connected experienced a 20-25% increase in productivity.

This connection starts by removing barriers to communication.

Working in silos (and removing healthy inter-department interactions) may not be good for engagement.

Apart from that, upper level-management needs to be more transparent and open to communication.

In a nutshell, managers need to be approachable and available to provide their counseling and guidance. All of this will result in a cooperative environment where every individual is engaged.

Here are some tips for promoting open communication in the workplace:

  • Have group meetings every other week or month, encouraging all employees to provide their input.
  • Encourage your managers to provide counseling sessions to the employees.
  • Always share valuable feedback and encourage your employees.

6. Promote Two-way Communication In The Workplace

Managers shouldn’t be the only ones to provide feedback.

To engage a workforce, the top management must also be open to receiving feedback from employees.

For that, managers need to establish a culture of two-way and open communication. Employees should freely share their viewpoints or voice their concerns, this will result in lower engagement.

So, it falls upon you – the manager – to take initiative and encourage your employees to discuss whatever is on there.

To promote open communication within the workplace, here are the things you can do:

  • Be extra careful while hiring managers/team leads. They should be open to construct their team in the time of criticism. Also, we should train our existing manager to accept and provide feedback without any personal involvement.
  • Design employee engagement surveys and have employees fill them out every month, quarter, or year.
  • You can include both open-ended and close-ended questions like, “Is there anything you’d like to suggest with the management? or On a scale of 1 to 5, tell how satisfied are you?
  • Keep an “open door” policy.

7. Provide Feedback On A Regular Basis

Do you provide enough feedback to your employees? Is that feedback constructive in any way?

How much feedback is too much? At what point does feedback begin to backfire?

These are many questions that every manager needs to ask themselves.

A great way to engage your employees is to have one-on-one feedback sessions – where you break down their performance and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.

It’s technically not possible to expect managers to provide individual feedback to a team of 100 professionals. However, providing quick feedback every week to one unit is reasonable.

Here are some tips to provide feedback the right way:

  • Even if the feedback is negative we can highlight the progress and other accomplishments of an employee.
  • Have performance evaluation interviews at the end of every month, quarter, or year, and provide employees in-depth feedback.

Providing the right amount of feedback and assistance, while allowing employees to take initiative, results in higher engagement.

8. Don’t Micromanage

We consider Micromanagement as the biggest killer of employee engagement.

Instructing employees on how to perform even the slightest tasks in certain ways is discouraging, and leads to a lack of productivity.

It’s true that few jobs require employees to follow standard operating procedures. However, in many cases, close supervision and a “my-way” attitude from managers can lower morale.

Every job – especially those that require creative input – requires a level of autonomy.

This autonomy shouldn’t be limited to setting goals or personal schedules – it should be practiced in most day-to-day tasks, without any consequences.

Another aspect of micromanagement is providing feedback and being overcritical too much.

In an experiment held in 2007, the two groups were tested in an inventory management simulation. However, Group A was given more feedback than group B.

The result – group B performed 11% better than group A.

Here are some tips that will help you to avoid being a micro-manager:

  • During meetings, discuss matters with an open mind, and look to learn something new.
  • Realize that there could be more than one “right way” of doing certain things, and allow your employees to use their creativity to do them. For example, if an employee prefers to use a certain layout and shortcuts for software, let them do it, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their work.
  • We should ask our employees to share their suggestions or feedback at the time of creating SOPs.

Ultimately, there is no point in hiring talented individuals then dictating their every move.

5 Hottest Employee Engagement Trends To Follow

Here are 5 employee engagement trends that you can leverage to send your organization to the next level:

1. Unique Financial Incentives

According to classical theories of management, money is always been the biggest motivator for any workforce.

As this is no longer relevant in today’s landscape, financial assistance, such as medical coverage, can go a long way in engaging employees.

However, some companies are providing financial assistance in unique ways. Catering to the needs of the modern workforce.

A good example is student loan repayment.

Some organizations are offering to repay the student loans of their employees through platforms like FutureFuel.

This special perk has shown promising results in terms of employee retention.

In fact, according to a survey, 86% of employees would want to work for a for 5 or more years if they offered to help pay off their college loans.

So, think beyond medical insurance and free lunches. And come up with a unique way to financially assist your employees.

2. Working For A Cause

Another factor that drives engagement in today’s workforce (most of which includes Millennials) is involved with causes.

A study found that organizations that focused on their CSR (corporate social responsibility) strategies and worked on different causes, found it easier to retain millennial employees.

Therefore, to make your employees feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves and engage them, consider giving back to the world in other ways.

If you already haven’t, by creating a CSR strategy:

  • Pick one cause that you want to work towards. It works in multiple cases at once, however, we can not save the world in a single go.
  • Train your employees to align their actions with the cause you’re working for, both, at work and in their personal lives.
  • Plan small CSR activities throughout the year, such as tree planting, fundraising for an animal protection group, etc.

Along with making efforts to keep employees happy, companies that also make efforts to introduce positive changes in the world experience higher retention rates.

3. Increased Flexibility

Employee Engagement

The modern employee wants to work on their own terms.

According to a recent survey on pay and flexible benefits plans, 76% of respondents considered a “flexible working schedule” as the most attractive incentive.

Flexibility not only reduces the stress to get the job done in a specific time period. However, it also provides a sense of autonomy both of which are perfect for engaging employees.

In another study, which focused on Millennials, 77% of respondents said that a flexible working schedule made them more productive.

On that note, consider ditching the mandatory 9 to 5 regime, and cut your employees some slack.

4. Leveraging Gamification

At times, employees find it difficult to wrap their heads around certain incentives and policies.

Modern organizations have come up with a solution to this problem i.e. gamification.

By gamifying your training programs, onboarding process, and other day-to-day tasks. You can experience a rise in employee engagement.

For example, you can leverage an app that tracks the heart rate of employees, and award them for working out. You can also gamify assessments, where employees can participate in an immersive experience.

Such employee incentive programs are key variables in fostering engagement.

5. Emphasis On Employee Experience

To make companies “people-oriented,” more and more organizations are now focusing on their employee’s experiences.

Also known as EX, this concept involves how an employee feels within their workplace and what they observe – which are a few deciding factors of engagement.

According to a survey by SHRM, organizations whose employees reported more positive experiences were 400% more profitable.

So, how do you or your organization provide the right kind of employee experience?

SHRM says that it’s a combination of some of the following factors:

  • Culture
  • Technology
  • Physical workspace

Building the right culture is a slow process.

However, you can experience results right away if you work on the environment and technology.

For the employees new with technology, you can provide better tools and ample training.

As for your physical workplace, make sure that your employees aren’t feeling crowded, are working in a safe and pleasant environment, and have an area to rest or take breaks.

Adopt A Winning Mindset

At the end of the day, it’s engaged employees that are going to help and scale your business.

Creating an environment where every employee is motivated to do more for themselves can be accomplished through the right mindset and tactics.

You must have creative employee engagement strategies that encourage employees to collaborate with co-workers and contribute to positive business outcomes.

The bottom line is: you need to foster a culture of employee engagement, ditching the traditional management style, and building a team that takes pleasure in showing up to get things done – every single day.

It’s easier to motivate engaged employees to learn and get them on board with training and development programs.

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