For quite a long time, employee engagement and wellness weren’t considered and essential part of the business strategy.
Now, we know that’s not true at all — and organizations everywhere are paying attention to this important metric.
In the last few years, it has become more apparent that unhealthy and unengaged workers weigh down productivity, innovation, and even the bottom line. Healthy and engaged employees within a strong workplace culture do the opposite.
Employee engagement impacts nearly every facet of business. But what is it, really? And why does it matter to the modern workplace?
In this guide, we’ll delve into employee engagement, discover what it truly means, and determine why it’s important in the modern workplace. Here, we’ll also talk about the strategies you can implement to improve engagement rates.
The best definition of Employee Engagement, in our humble opinion, is derived from and article Richard P. Finnegan who wrote for SHRM (The Society for Human Resource Management):
“The commitment of employees to give their all to help the organization succeed each day.”
Essentially, when we discuss employee engagement, we are referring to an employee’s desire and ability to provide their best possible efforts to work — and do so consistently.
As you can imagine, trust and belief in an organization’s mission, values and leadership are key factors to consistent employee engagement.
What Employee Engagement Is Not
Everyone knows that employee engagement is important. However, not everyone fully comprehends what it means. It’s not the easiest concept to wrap your head around. Often, employee engagement is confused with the following:
Employee engagement isn’t exactly synonymous to job satisfaction. An employee can be satisfied with their work and still feel disengaged. For instance, an employee could be well-compensated for a complex job. Perhaps their job doesn’t demand too much of their time.
Engaged employees aren’t just satisfied with their work conditions or their pay. They are also genuinely happy about contributing to their company.
Happiness at work
Yet, happiness isn’t exactly an indicator of engagement, either. Not all employees who are happy about their jobs are engaged in their work.
Employees’ happiness levels may or may not have anything to do with their job. Maybe free snacks and coffee at the cafeteria are a few things that employees look forward to in their workday. Perhaps they don’t necessarily feel the same way about work production.
Sometimes, employees feel motivated to get more work done because of the weather or because of an upcoming vacation. Although motivation is important as it drives results, it’s not engagement.
Even highly motivated employees can be disengaged in their work. Workers who are motivated are future-oriented, while those who are fully engaged in their work are present-oriented.
The Importance of Employee Engagement in the Modern Workplace
When we keep employees engaged, we can enjoy a ton of perks. Aside from having a workforce full of motivated, happy, satisfied, and productive employees, we can reduce employee turnover, increase profits, and improve business operations.
Businesses that cultivate excellent company cultures have a better chance of retaining employees compared to those that don’t. If your workforce loves what they do, they’re more likely to invest their time and effort in your company.
When employees are engaged in their work, they will exert more effort and generally do a better job than those who are disengaged. Research shows that the productivity rates of highly engaged employees are 21% higher than those with low engagement.
Highly engaged employees are more likely to take fewer days of absence. On top of that, they are less likely to steal. They have 28% less internal theft than employees who aren’t as engaged in their work.
Companies with a fully engaged workforce not only thrive, but they get ahead of the competition. Of course, high-performance teams drive great profits. But they also appear appealing to new talent.
These employees bolster the company’s reputation. About 89% of employees that support well-being initiatives would recommend their company as a good place to work. This is crucial to the modern workforce, especially for the millennial population.
In an exhaustive report published by The Engagement Institute, it was revealed that disengaged employees cost companies in the US about $550 billion annually. Gallup reports that 68.5% of the US workforce isn’t engaged in the work that they do.
Actively disengaged workers are unhappy and unproductive. To make matters worse, their negativity is infectious. They can turn potentially engaged workers into disengaged employees.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
Knowing all that, are you looking to improve your company’s levels of employee engagement? Here are a few surefire methods to help you with your endeavors.
1. Communicate effectively with your workforce
Some of the most alarming employee morale issues can be resolved by improving communication. Although often overlooked, positive recognition is one of the simplest things you can do to make employees feel included and valued.
Effective communication doesn’t happen once in a blue moon. It’s frequent, as well as consistent. More importantly, it must be fully inclusive. Anyone, regardless of their age, race, gender, or culture, should feel that their voice is heard and valued.
According to a Salesforce report, employees whose voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best at work. In the report, they indicated that companies that embrace diversity and inclusivity get to enjoy tangible financial gains.
2. Support health and wellness initiatives
Health and wellness are very important factors that influence engagement levels. Reducing health care costs and productivity-loss caused by sickness-related absenteeism will help companies save more money over time.
So, what health and wellness initiatives can you support?
You can offer free healthy and nutritious meals in the cafeteria. You can invite health coaches or yoga instructors a few days a week to make these healthy options readily available to your workforce.
3. Create a personal growth strategy for employees
All employees need to feel that their company offers room for growth. The second they feel that they are in a dead-end job, they will leave and look for other opportunities. This is true, especially for millennials.
If employees are involved in the success of the business, committed to achieving company-wide goals, and fulfilled, they are engaged. These employees will make an effort to help the company succeed as they feel a strong emotional connection with their teams and the company itself. To encourage employees to invest their time and effort in a company, you must invest in them.
If you are looking for additional resources on employee engagement, here is a good place to start: