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How to increase employee engagement in the workplace

workers on a job site

Employee engagement increases productivity, increases profit, increases quality, and is one of the top ways to improve employee retainment.

An engaged employee is "one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work, and so takes positive action to further the organization's reputation and interests. An engaged employee has a positive attitude towards the organization and its values. In contrast, a disengaged employee may range from someone doing the bare minimum at work (aka ‘coasting'), up to an employee who is actively damaging the company's work output and reputation."

Why should you care?

According to a 2016 Gallup Employee Engagement Survey, 87 percent of employees are disengaged, costing companies up to $550 billion in annual productivity losses. Organizations in top 25 percent of employee engagement scores achieved dramatically better operational performance than organizations in the bottom 25 percent.

Companies with the top 25 percent employee engagement experience rewards like:

  • 10% higher customer loyalty/engagement
  • 21% higher profitability
  • 20% higher sales productivity
  • 70% higher in fewer safety incidents
  • 28% higher in reduced shrinkage (shop stealing and similar)
  • 41% higher in less absenteeism
  • 40% higher in quality (fewer defects)

What you can do

Multiple research reports and surveys have shown that the three most important factors directly impacting employee engagement are communication, connection, and development. Quantum Workplace administered a survey to nearly 5,000 organizations and found 31 items that were drivers of engagement. Of the 31 items, you may be surprised to learn the three items of lowest importance were:

  1. I have a close and trusting relationship with one or more coworkers.
  2. My benefits meet my (and my family's) needs well.
  3. We have benefits typically not available at other organizations.

While benefits and compensation are often the first items cited when thinking about employee turnover and retention, there are multiple factors, such as feeling connected, valued, and a sense of contributing to a bigger picture, that are shown to be more influential.

Building your strategy

Employees account for a large organizational investment, so why not make sure employees feel like a valued resource? Companies regularly invest in systems and equipment updates. Making an investment in "human capital" can give you amazing returns. Here are some ideas on how to start.

1. Assess and prioritize.

We measure what matters, so get started with employee engagement by understanding what is currently taking place. There are many available survey examples. Make sure that the questions you ask get at the heart of communication dynamics, employee perception of leadership, and employee development. Understanding the various ways to analyze results and prioritize findings can be essential in choosing what type of assessment you use.

2. Build effective organizational communication.

Is the information you communicate relevant, accurate, engaging, informative, and instructive? Does it lead to a greater sense of organizational transparency and build trust? Do you have clear lines of internal communication? Daily communication is one of the fastest ways to increase employee engagement.

3. Foster connection and trust with leadership.

According to Quantum Workplace research, the three themes for creating the largest impact on employee development are the leadership's attention to the workplace experience, the visibility of leadership, and employees seeing their personal future within the organization. This means leaders need to be attuned to and invested in shaping the culture and that they take time to connect with all levels of the organization. This connection can support an employee's sense that the organization's future is secure. Further, employees need to be able to see a path for personal and professional growth as they look ahead.

4. Create development opportunities.

It has been said that when employees stop learning, they start leaving. When it comes to employee retention, development is a strategic part of ensuring that your employees feel valued and engaged. There are many activities that encompass employee development, including continuing education, employee participation in professional organizations, activities like mentorship, that lead to increased job performance, increased duties or responsibilities. There is also skill-based training, specialized projects or teams, and coaching. While not every employee may want development opportunities, the employees that do are generally the ones you want to grow and retain.

5. Measure impact.

Employee engagement should be measured annually. General surveys can be created to reflect the organization's key performance measures, such as profitability, productivity, quality, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. However, specific surveys can also be generated to better reflect departments, teams, specific areas of focus (such as communication), or other outcomes. Your best results will be achieved when you build a plan from your survey results that focuses on one or two achievable outcomes.

Julie Davis is the workforce solutions director at AEM.

Company info

6737 West Washington Street, Suite 2400
Milwaukee, WI
US, 53214-5647

Website:
aem.org

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