A highly engaged workforce can be great for productivity, customer service and company performance. Unfortunately, low employee engagement has been recognised as a major issue in Australia and the United States, but especially in the case of the UK.
This article provides an introduction to employee engagement: what it is and why it is important.
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is about the commitment, involvement and enthusiasm for a company by its employees.
Engaged employees are willing to go the extra mile. They’re willing to do the overtime, they’re willing to chase the sale or think of new ways forward, or they’re willing to help customers, above and beyond the call of duty.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
Engaged employees are more motivated, fulfilled, happier and healthier. They produce higher quality work, they’re better teammates and they can even be more aligned with the company’s strategy and values. It’s for these reason that entrepreneurs like Richard Branson put so much emphasis on staff.
Unfortunately, only a fraction of employees are truly engaged in their workplace. There is substantial debate on the best way to measure employee engagement, but consider:
- About 10% of workers in the UK are engaged employees, and potentially lower!
- British employees had an average engagement score which is significantly lower than France, Australia and the US.
- Employee engagement was recently ranked as the top concern for HR managers in the UK.
The consequences of low levels of employee engagement are enormous. Low employee engagement can lead to productivity loss in the form of presenteeism and absenteeism. Low employee engagement can also lead to unnecessary labour turnover.
In contrast, engaged employees are motivated, focused and productive. Research has shown that organisations with employees that are highly engaged have 21% higher profitability and 17% higher productivity.
How Does Employee Engagement Work?
Recent research has shown that employees are more engaged where they are:
- Fully occupied;
- Achieving desired outcomes;
- Receiving feedback;
- Receiving recognition;
- Experiencing challenge;
- Experiencing learning; and
- Exerting control over how they undertake their work
The same study showed that employee engagement can be improved by:
- Having interesting challenges to solve
- Adopting positive team processes
- Maintaining collegial team environments
Of course, the factors that impact commitment and motivation can differ between organisations and even individual teams.
Measuring Employee Engagement
Employee Engagement can be tricky to quantify because it varies from business to business, country to country. It is also heavily influenced by subjective opinions.
Of course, it’s a great idea to measure employee engagement in your business, and it’s not hard to get started!