Employee engagement is a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organisation to give of their best each day. It means they are committed to their organisation's goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, with an enhanced sense of their personal well-being.
The 2018 Glint report on the “State of Employee Engagement” states that most participants believe that less than 70% of their employees are engaged’ and that “over 90% believe there is solid evidence linking engagement to performance.”
Engagement has an impact on a number of performance indicators including product quality, customer service and productivity. It is logical therefore to extend the thought that poor engagement whilst affecting performance in terms of productivity and profitability will also have a direct link to absenteeism and sickness which is likely higher when there is no engagement. When looking at MIND figures in relation to mental ill health and sickness, the figures are staggering:
- More than 1 in 5 employees have called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress has affected them
- 30% felt that they would not be able to tell their manager they felt stressed
The second point is directly related to engagement or non-engagement of employees due to negligent or ineffective leadership.
Engaging employees in their work, the company culture and values is the responsibility of leaders within each organisation. In other words - creating the right environment, building trust, nurturing relationships, and being transparent. Leadership behaviour is itself driven by the organisational culture and company values. The old saying of “the fish stinks from the head down” adequately sums up the need within an organisation to ensure senior management lead by example and roll down company values, ensuring they are manifested throughout the organisation.
Engagement can be measured in different ways. However, to be effective it is likely that the process is continuous and uses a combination of ways, such as:
- Formal employee surveys – will get the feedback that is needed to lead to relevant change, so long as employees feel safe to answer openly.
- Exit interviews – taking the time to really find out why an employee is leaving is critical to reflecting on what can be done better, whilst also providing feedback about the environment and culture to the manager of the person who is leaving.
- One-to-ones with managers – Work very well when there is an atmosphere of trust. Without trust, it may bring limited results.
- Customer satisfaction ratings - The customer is the one who truly bears the brunt of poor employee engagement, experiencing poorly motivated service people, with a “don’t care” attitude. Thus, hearing about their experiences is a very important gauge whilst also providing pointers for improvement.
- Employee productivity – measured in different ways, is a valuable measurement of employee engagement. Low productivity very often reflects low engagement and vica versa.
How can managers and leaders influence engagement levels?
Again there is no one answer, there are several answers and in reality a combination of different actions are needed to positively influence employee engagement:
- Give employees the chance to do quality work
- Maintain a positive work culture
- Listen carefully to employee feedback
- Communicate clear expectations to employees
- Encourage employee collaboration
- Build a trusting environment through being fair
- Give positive feedback and praise employees for their performance
- Train and coach
It makes sense that employee engagement is part of the core business strategy. Engagement on a consistent basis will pay dividends in increasing productivity, thus profitability. The work place will be a happier place to be and consequently increase pride in doing quality work and serving customers, as well as succeeding in achieving department and company goals.
The State of Employee Engagement 2018 HR.com
Managing for Sustainable Employee Engagement, CIPD