Employee Engagement: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Improve It
Employee engagement plays a critical role in the success of any organization. It involves building strong relationships and helping employees feel connected to their work, their colleagues, and their organization as a whole. This helps create a sense of purpose and commitment among employees, leading to improved performance, higher levels of motivation, and deeper levels of trust. But what is employee engagement, exactly? Why does it matter? And how can you improve it in your workplace?
Employee engagement doesn't mean employee satisfaction and it doesn't mean employee happiness either. But don't worry, We'll answer all those questions in this blog post.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is the level of connection that an employee feels to their organization and their work. It goes beyond simply being satisfied or happy with one's job - it involves feeling motivated and committed to the organization's success and feeling a sense of ownership over one's work and contributions.
Today's employees view their careers as more than just a paycheck. They want a sense of purpose, meaningful challenges, and opportunities for continuous development. They also value more frequent feedback and recognition for their works and the right to express their opinions.
We call these engagement drivers, and when these are met, employees are more engaged and productive.
Why does employee engagement matter?
There are many benefits to having a highly engaged workforce, including increased productivity, lower levels of absenteeism and turnover, and improved organizational performance. When employees feel engaged with their work, they're more likely to be motivated and productive. They're also more likely to stay with an organization for the long haul.
Because engaged employees feel connected to their work and committed to their organization's success, they tend to be more invested in their work and more motivated to do their best. This can have far-reaching impacts on both the individuals, teams, and the organization's long-term success.
Disengaged employees, on the other hand, are often less productive, more likely to leave their jobs, and more likely to have negative attitudes towards their work. This can lead to decreased morale among other employees, and can ultimately hurt an organization's bottom line.
Imagine your team as paddlers on a boat, engaged people are those busting their butts to keep the boat moving forward even when things are rough, while disengaged people are just going through the motions, or worse, actively working against the team. It's easy to see how engagement (or lack thereof) can have a big impact on an organization's performance.
What are some common factors that cause low engagement levels?
These can include a lack of recognition and appreciation from managers, poor communication and feedback channels within the organization, high levels of stress and job insecurity, and dissatisfaction with organizational policies or management practices.
But the most important factor is that company leadership lacks an understanding of what employee engagement is and why it's important. They think it's a vague, intangible concept, or that it's something that just happens naturally when employees are satisfied with their jobs.
To improve employee engagement, the first and foremost is to be able to identify the factors that are driving low engagement levels. Once you have a better understanding of the problem, you can start to implement solutions that address the underlying issues.
How do you measure employee engagement?
The easiest way to measure engagement level and get some insights is through the use of surveys, which can help identify any gaps between their needs and what the organization currently provides. These surveys, known as engagement surveys, typically ask employees a range of questions (engagement drivers) about their levels of motivation, productivity, commitment, and so on. The Gallup Q12 assessment is an industry-leading survey, or check out QuokkaHR's survey tools with all the built-in questions and analytics.
What are the key drivers of employee engagement?
These can vary from organization to organization, but some common themes are a sense of purpose, feeling valued and respected, having a voice in the organization, and having autonomy on how to complete their tasks. For a more deep-dive discussion on this topic, check out this post here
What are some best practices for improving employee engagement?
One key strategy for improving employee engagement is to conduct regular surveys. This can help you identify areas where employees may be struggling or where changes could be made to improve engagement levels. It's better to use pulse surveys that are short and frequent, rather than a single comprehensive survey packed with hundreds of questions. This allows you to get insights in a more real-time fashion and plan actions as needed, rather than waiting until the end of the year.
Another important step is to implement employee development programs, such as leadership training or mentorship opportunities. These can help employees feel more invested in and connected to their work, give them a clear career ladder, and provide them with the experience and skills that they need to be successful and grow professionally over time.
Promoting a culture of recognition and appreciation can also go a long way in improving employee engagement. Whether it's through formal reward programs or simply saying "thank you" or "good job" more often; making sure employees feel appreciated for their hard work is a key factor in keeping them motivated.
Finally, it is important to foster a culture of trust and transparency in the workplace. This can be achieved through open communication and honest feedback, as well as offering support to employees who may be struggling with personal or family issues. By focusing on these engagement drivers, you can create a more positive and productive workplace culture that benefits both employees and your company.
The bottom line is that employee engagement matters because it leads to better performance, higher motivation, and deeper trust. If you want your organization to succeed, you need to make sure that your employees are engaged. And the best way to do that is to start taking action today.
Think about how you can improve communication, feedback, and support in your workplace. What changes can you make to create a more positive and open culture? By taking these steps, you can start making a difference for your people —and your business.