An “engaged employee” is one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about his or her work, and thus acts in a way that benefits their organization. An engaged employee is aware of the organization’s goals and collaborates with coworkers to improve job performance for the benefit of the organization. It is the employees’ positive attitude toward the organization and its values.
According to a survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Federation of People Management Associations, enhancing employee engagement is one of the four most important HR topics to focus on in volatile times, along with managing talent, leadership development, and strategic workforce planning. The engagement has the potential to significantly affect not only employee retention, productivity, and loyalty, but it is also a key link to customer satisfaction, company reputation, and overall stakeholder value.
What exactly is employee engagement?
Employee engagement can be defined in a variety of ways, ranging from brief and concise to elaborate and comprehensive. Many of these definitions highlight some aspect of an employee’s commitment to the organization or the positive behaviors displayed by an engaged employee.
Employee engagement definitions include the following:
What employee engagement does not include
Employee engagement does not imply that the employee is content. An employee may be in a good mood, but that does not always translate into productive engagement on behalf of the company. While company initiatives to improve employee happiness can be beneficial, and team outings, paid leave, and other incentives can boost employee morale, they do not guarantee employee engagement.
Employee engagement encompasses more than just job satisfaction. Many businesses have satisfied employees who show up for work during regular working hours or do what is expected of them, but if they are not engaged, they will not go the extra mile to drive the business forward.
Employee Engagement Categories
According to Gallup, employees can be categorized as engaged, disengaged, and actively disengaged:
According to the Gallup Employee Engagement Index, only 33% of workers are engaged in their jobs, 49% are not engaged, and 18% are actively disengaged. Gallup researchers estimate that disengaged workers cost U.S. businesses up to $350 billion per year, based on a survey of nearly 42,000 randomly selected adults. Whereas this may appear to be a concerning statistic, it also provides management with an opportunity to steer their disengaged workforce toward a more engaged one.
What factors influence employee engagement?
According to recent research, employers who actively engage employees and encourage them to be creative will attract top-tier candidates and retain loyal employees, giving them a competitive advantage.
The IMR research group polled nearly 2,000 workers across the United States and discovered that the key drivers of employee loyalty include employee decision-making autonomy, trust between management and employees, opportunities for professional development, and active encouragement of creativity.
Traits of engaged and disengaged employees:
|Engaged behaviors||Disengaged behaviors|
|Exceeds expectations||Does the bare minimum|
|Shows a passion for learning||Focuses on monetary benefits|
|Gives credit to others but accepts blame||Involved in the blame game|
|Encourages team members||Negative influence on others|
Engagement’s Business Results
Highly engaged employees were five times less likely than nonengaged employees to have a safety incident and seven times less likely to have a lost-time safety incident at beverage giant Molson Coors. In one year, the company saved $1,721,760 in safety costs by increasing employee engagement.
Caterpillar’s increased employee engagement resulted in $8.8 million in annual savings from decreased attrition, absenteeism, and overtime in a European plant, as well as a $2 million increase in profit and a 34 percent increase in highly satisfied customers in a start-up plant.
Quantum Workplace (the research firm behind more than 40 metro area “Best Places to Work” programs) has identified five key factors that distinguish companies with higher engagement scores from others. Companies like these:
What is the difference between employee engagement and job satisfaction?
The terms “job satisfaction” and “engagement” are frequently used interchangeably. However, research has revealed that, while there is some overlap in the drivers of engagement and satisfaction, there are also significant differences in the factors that influence each.
Some experts define employee engagement in terms of their feelings and behavior. Employees who are engaged may report feeling focused and intensely involved in their work. They are ecstatic and have a strong sense of urgency. Engaged behavior is persistent, proactive, and adaptive in ways that allow job roles to be expanded as needed. Employees who are engaged go above and beyond their job descriptions, for example, in service delivery or innovation. Whereas engaged employees have a sense of urgency and focus on how they approach their work, satisfied employees are pleasant, content, and gratified. Employee job satisfaction in an organization frequently relates to factors over which the organization has control (such as pay, benefits, and job security), whereas engagement levels are largely under the employee’s direct control or significantly influenced by the employee’s manager (through job assignments, trust, recognition, day-to-day communications, etc.).
Researchers at the Kenexa High-Performance Institute examined 840,000 employee engagement responses from companies in the United States and the United Kingdom and discovered that 57 percent of respondents were disengaged after two years on the job.
What Factors Influence Employee Engagement?
Extensive research has been carried out to identify the factors that influence employee engagement levels. According to the research, there are both organizational and managerial drivers.
Some of the research identifies drivers of employee engagement at the organizational level.
Quantum Workplace (the research firm behind the “Best Places to Work” programs in over 47 metro areas) has identified six key drivers of employee engagement:
Employee engagement skyrockets when employees have positive relationships with their direct supervisors or managers on a daily basis. Employee engagement has been linked to the following behaviors of an employee’s direct supervisors:
Gallup’s “Q12” are 12 core elements that are strongly linked to key business outcomes. These elements pertain to what the employee receives (e.g., clear expectations, resources), what the employee gives (e.g., individual contributions), whether the individual fits in the organization (e.g., based on the company mission and coworkers), and whether the employee has the opportunity to grow (e.g., by getting feedback about work and opportunities to learn).
These elements pertain to what the employee receives (e.g., clear expectations, resources), what the employee gives (e.g., individual contributions), whether the individual fits in the organization (e.g., based on the company mission and coworkers), and whether the employee has the opportunity to grow (e.g., by getting feedback about work and opportunities to learn).
The Functions of Human Resources and Management
Many factors influence employee engagement, ranging from workplace culture, organisational communication, and managerial styles to trust and respect, leadership, and company reputation. HR professionals and managers, both collectively and individually, play critical roles in ensuring the success of the organization’s employee engagement initiatives.
Human Resources’ Role
HR should lead the way in the design, measurement, and evaluation of proactive workplace policies and practises that help attract and retain talent with the skills and competencies required for growth and sustainability in order to foster a culture of engagement.
Middle managers play an important role in employee engagement by developing a respectful and trusting relationship with their direct reports, communicating company values, and establishing expectations for the day-to-day operations of any organization.
According to studies, people leave managers rather than companies, so ensuring managers are actively participating in and managing employee engagement is critical. Employee Engagement Problems? Use These 10 Strategies to Engage Managers.
Middle managers, on the other hand, need to be empowered by being given more responsibilities, trained for their expanded roles, and involved in strategic decisions. If an organization’s executives and human resources professionals want to hold managers accountable for employee engagement levels, they should do the following:
Employee engagement is significantly influenced by HR practices. Employee engagement can be increased by implementing the following practices:
Importance of communication
Employers have numerous opportunities for “engageable moments,” during which they can motivate and direct employees. According to Watson Wyatt’s WorkUSA report, the following formal and informal “engageable moment” opportunities exist:
Among the formal opportunities are:
Among the informal opportunities are:
Employee engagement is important not only to HR professionals but also to business leaders because it has a direct impact on a company’s financial health and profitability. As a result, when developing an HR plan for an organization, employee engagement strategies should take precedence.