Wikipedia defines an engaged employee as one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about their work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interest.
According to an employee engagement report by Scarlet Surveys, only 31 percent of employees are actively engaged in their jobs.
If employee engagement is so important, then why are organizations so ineffective at it? And what is your responsibility as a leader in an organization to create an environment that is conducive to employees making good business choices?
Research has shown there are correlations between employee engagement and desirable business outcomes such as retention of talent, customer service, individual and team performance, and business productivity.
Employee engagement should not be an occasional effort, but a yearlong key strategic initiative that should drive employee performance and continuous improvement.
One reason organizations don’t employ an effective strategy is because it is not easy work — they cannot immediately see it in their bottom line. Another is that many organizations don’t make the commitment of time, tools, attention, and training. When measured effectively, one can see the relationship and correlation between specific positive business outcomes and positive employee engagement.
Organizations can take steps to develop a culture of employee engagement if they understand the role of leadership in communicating, developing, and rewarding employees. An article by Patricia Lotich, in The Thriving Business, identified at least ten ways an organization can create an employee engagement culture. Here is a summary of them:
- Strong Vision. Develop a defined and well-communicated vision.
- Consistent Communication. Communicate how the organization is doing, how goals are being accomplished, and how employees contribute to achieving the organization’s objectives.
- Supervision Interaction. Direct supervisors should demonstrate their care for employees as individuals.
- Employee Development. Employees should be given the opportunity to develop and grow professionally.
- Team Environment. Developing a strong team environment can help foster engaged employees.
- Culture of Trust. Employees need to trust each other as well as their leadership.
- Clear Expectations. Employees need to know what is expected of them.
- Reward and Recognition. Employees need to feel validated and acknowledged as part of the organization.
- Employee Satisfaction. Employees need to feel like they are part of the process.
- Competitive Pay and Benefits. While not a key indicator, offering competitive pay, benefits, and reasonable working conditions is a strategy for strong employee engagement.
Having effective engagement practices and understanding what is meaningful to employees can get you to work towards a more motivated and high-performing workforce. Commitment to an intentional culture of employee engagement is important for employees to thrive and for retaining the top performers. The bottom line is engaged employees are good for business.
Let me close with two quotes about why employee engagement is so important:
“When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” –Betty Bender
“Employee engagement is an investment we make for the privilege of future proofing our organization’s productivity and performance.” – Ian Hutchinson, Chief Engagement Officer, Life by Design