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Do your employees feel a genuine connection to their jobs and to your business? Or do they simply see this job as the latest in a long line; a way to put food on the table as their previous jobs have been?
Employee engagement has become a buzzword in recent times, and for good reason. Engaged employees put more of themselves into their work, and put more money into the business’s bottom line.
In an effort to turn it from a vague buzzword to a tangible concept, let’s take a closer look at employee engagement – what it is, what it isn’t, why it’s important, and how to inspire more of it.
What is employee engagement?
In terms of an employee engagement definition, there are many to be found, but all essentially say the same thing.
Employee engagement is the level of enthusiasm, commitment and emotional connection that an employee feels toward the organisation they work for, the team they work with and the work that they do.
How do you measure a metric that seems so difficult to quantify? More than anything, employee engagement can be seen in how willing employees are to put extra, discretionary effort into their work.
We’re not necessarily talking about doing a 70-hour week while getting paid for 40. We’re talking about employees putting in the effort, using initiative, and truly caring about the results of their work. An engaged employee isn’t simply working for the next paycheque or promotion – they’re working to push the company forward toward its goals.
What employee engagement is not
Because employee engagement can be a metric that is hard to define, it is often confused with other employee metrics. It’s therefore worth looking at what employee engagement is not.
1. It is not employee happiness
You can be a happy employee without being an engaged employee. Think of a retail worker who is such great friends with their colleagues that they chat all day and ignore customers. The employee is having a great time, but the business isn’t reaping any reward from their happiness. Likewise, the Silicon alley-style offices with ping pong tables, napping rooms and in-house bars are fantastic for morale but don’t directly push the company toward its goals.
2. It is not employee satisfaction
A satisfied employee is one that will show up to their job every day, do what’s asked of them, and won’t complain. In other words, a satisfied employee is your average employee. A truly engaged employee, meanwhile, will show up early, will do more than what’s asked of them, and will become a brand ambassador, telling their personal network how good your company is to work for. You cannot use an employee satisfaction survey to paint a picture of employee engagement.
5 benefits of employee engagement
Why should you try to increase the levels of employee engagement in your workplace? By getting your employees engaged, you set off a domino effect of positive outcomes that stretches to every corner of your organisation.
Engaged employees deliver better service, higher quality work and enhanced levels of productivity, which leads to…
Your customers feel more satisfied with their experience, which leads to…
Increased loyalty, an increased customer base, and ultimately increased sales from both new and repeat customers, which leads to…
Higher profits – according to Towers Perrin, organisations with engaged employees boast 6% higher net profits – which leads to…
Company growth, and increased returns for shareholders.
Engaged employees can therefore be seen as the foundation upon which a successful business is built. It’s been said a million times before, but your people are your most valuable asset. If you have an engaged workforce, things like efficiency, productivity, innovation and growth come easier. Engaged employees form the motor that pushes your company forward – all you have to do is steer it in the right direction.
4 ways to improve employee engagement
The whats and the whys taken care of, it’s time to look at the hows. How do you improve employee engagement within your company?
1. Use surveys to get a sense of where your workers are at
The first step is to get a sense of how engaged your employees currently are. Offer up NPS-style statements and get your employees to rate how much they agree with each on a scale of 1-10, such as:
- I’m proud to work for [employer].
- I look forward to Mondays.
- I’d recommend [employer] to friends looking for work.
- I rarely consider working elsewhere.
- I see myself working at [employer] in two years.
- I feel more motivated at [employer] than I would in an equivalent role at another company.
In order to get the clearest possible picture of engagement, be sure to make these surveys anonymous, and to allow employees to explain their answers.
2. Create an employee engagement action plan
Based on the survey results, create an employee engagement action plan. Begin by choosing a couple of employee engagement ‘drivers’ that your survey tells you are either areas of potential improvement or things that your employees love that you could expand upon. Brainstorm solutions, make commitments, then create a plan of attack that will lead to improvement.
3. Ensure engagement is a strategy, not simply an activity
Employee engagement isn’t a one-time effort, nor is it a fun little side project. It is a continuous and ever more critical strategy that is central to the success of your organisation – and it should be treated as such. You can’t set it and forget it – constant recalibration, development and enhancement are required.
4. Use tools to drive increased engagement
Survey tools, performance management tools, analytics and intelligence; there are a wealth of clever solutions that can make employee engagement far easier. Square Team Management, for example, is a one-stop employee management solution that allows you to set rosters, onboard new employees and track hours, all while facilitating employee engagement activities.
If you’re ready to increase employee engagement – and subsequently increase your bottom line – Square is ready to help!