Are your employees actively involved in their work or are they just putting in time? The answer to this question is important because it will tell you whether your employees are engaged in their work or not. Employee engagement is good for businesses.

The level of employee engagement is an indication of the level of positive connection that employees feel to their work. 

Today’s employees want more than a 9 to 5 job and a good paycheck. They want to feel connected to the organization they work for and they want to know that they are making a meaningful contribution to its success.

Organizational success has become dependent on high levels of employee engagement. In this article, we will suggest employee engagement ideas to help your organization be more productive and innovative through higher levels of employee engagement. While we know it can be hard to initially find the right staff, check out our other blog as well for tips to finding staff who care about your business.

What is employee engagement?

According to Gallup, employee engagement is present when employees ‘’are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.’’

A culture of high staff engagement levels is recognized as a significant contributor to company success. According to research, 71% of managers at large companies agree that employee engagement is an important factor in their company’s success. 

Millennials make up the majority of the workforce today. For this generation, a nice paycheck is not enough. They want purpose in their work. They want to work for companies that align with their personal values. If purpose and value are absent in the workplace, this generation gets bored, becomes disengaged and looks for other options.

This observation brings us to the next point: the importance of employee engagement.

Why is employee engagement important?

When employees are engaged, they do their best because they believe in what they are doing. They understand the value of their work for the organization. They know their contribution might just be a tiny cog in a very big wheel, but they also know that without that tiny cog, the wheel will not run smoothly and may even become stuck. In other words, they know their value.

Employees who are engaged, pay close attention to detail and show pride in their work. They create a general work culture that exudes positivity, which can filter through to all levels of the organization. 

The positive effect of employee engagement is most evident in customer relations. Engaged employees are the best customer service representatives a business can hope for. Because they believe in the company and its services and/or products, they are happy to talk to customers about it and help out where necessary. 

Employees who are enthusiastic about the company they work for, and the work they do for the company, are likely to stay loyal and are unlikely to look for other employment.

Benefits of employee engagement

  • Improves retention

As mentioned earlier, employees who are engaged in their work are unlikely to look for other work. Employee engagement and staff retention are directly related: high engagement levels lead to high retention rates. 

Organizations with high engagement save on hiring costs as they don’t have high staff turnover. Staff turnover is very costly. Small Business Trends reports that according to one study, the cost of hiring a new employee can be as high as $7,645.

Retention is also important because organizations can’t afford to lose talented staff that can help them flourish and outperform the competition.

  • Boosts productivity

Research reports show that employees who are invested in their work are more productive than employees who are disengaged or merely satisfied.

Consulting firm Bain & Company has reported that an engaged employee is 44% more productive than a satisfied one, but an employee who feels inspired at work is even more productive: nearly 125% more productive than a satisfied one.

According to a meta-analysis by Gallup, businesses or work units that scored the highest on employee engagement also scored higher on productivity, and showed higher levels of profitability.

The same study found that work units with high employee engagement had less absenteeism, fewer safety incidents, fewer theft incidents, and fewer quality issues.

  • Contributes to positive company reputation

Word gets around quickly if an organization has high turnover rates. It does not bode well for the organization because there must be a reason why people don’t want to work there. 

High engagement rates have the opposite effect: everybody wants to work at a place that is known for high retention rates because again, there must be a reason why people want to stay.

In short, high retention rates signal success and good reputation.

  • Increases customer satisfaction

Employees who are passionate about the company they work for and what it has to offer make great customer service personnel. Because they are positive and believe in the company’s products and services, they want things to work out for customers. These employees go the extra mile and customers appreciate that.

Negative impact of disengaged employees

Where engaged employees contribute to profitability, disengaged employees have the opposite effect. Gallup estimates that employees who are actively disengaged cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.

There are other negative consequences as well, according to Gallup. Many workers never reach their full potential and the figures are higher for disengaged employees. 

These employees are not emotionally committed to companies they work for and don’t have the company’s interest at heart. They are less productive, don’t do their work to the best of their ability, influence others negatively, miss workdays, and are more likely to steal from their employers.

Investing in employee engagement

As you can see, there are many reasons to make sure that your workforce is engaged. We have listed some of the more important employee engagement ideas here for you.

  • Clear and open communication

This is the oldest one in the book, but it’s also the most important and inescapable factor to ensure employee engagement. Open and clear communication is the foundation for transparency and trust in an organization. There is nothing that undermines commitment and productivity more than poor and unclear communication. 

Employees must know exactly what’s expected of them. If you don’t know what exactly is expected from you, and where you and what you do fit into the organization, how could you possibly be expected to be an engaged employee?

Effective communication builds strong relationships between co-workers and between different levels of employees. Strong relationships promote collaboration, which, in turn, promotes employee engagement.

  • Empower employees by trusting them

Show your employees that you trust them to do their work and don’t micromanage them. Employees who are trusted to do their work know that they are being treated as responsible adults. On the other hand, an employee who constantly has to report to a supervisor will never feel empowered and will most certainly not be engaged. 

Research has shown that when employees don’t feel trusted, workplace productivity and engagement often suffer.

  • Have fun with virtual events

Don’t let COVID-19 prevent your team from having fun. People are already feeling isolated working from home and miss being with their friends and colleagues at work, and now they can’t get together on a company outing and have fun like they used to.

Put the social aspect of work back in the workplace and let your team get away from the stress of work by letting them have fun virtually.

Virtual happy hours, and virtual beer & cheese tasting are very popular. Check out these other ideas for virtual fun events that will help teams to bond again: The Escape Game, Water Cooler Trivia, and QuizBreaker.

  • Show employees how their work contributes to the company’s mission

Coming back to the point that most employees these days are millennials. They want to know what the mission or purpose is of the company that they work for, and they want to understand how their work aligns with that mission.

According to Gallup, inspirational words on a website aren’t enough to inspire purpose. Millennials need to feel connected to the big picture. Gallup found that when millennials buy into a mission and purpose employee engagement increases dramatically to 67% engagement

Managers need to make sure that employees are always aware of the company’s mission. They must show clearly how each employee and their team’s work are contributing to the organization’s goals.

Giving employees a purpose and showing them how they fit in the big picture, will result in a productive and engaged workforce that is committed to the company.

  • Have a health and wellness program in place

Many research studies have proven that health and wellness programs promote productivity, employee engagement, and retention. These programs also reduce turnover because they tackle job stress, which is the main reason why employees leave their jobs.

There are loads of wellness ideas and activities to choose from. One of the most useful I have heard about is the drug discount company GoodRx that helps employees reduce their out-of-pocket drug costs.

The occasional day-long virtual wellness retreat facilitated by wellness experts that tackles all angles of wellness and health would be a great contribution to a company wellness program. 

Wellness programs make employees feel cared for and promote loyalty.

  • Reward employees for embodying company values

This is a proven engagement tool. It’s easy to get cynical about company values printed on large posters and displayed on every available wall space in the office – it just becomes part of the background.

But company values come to life when employees are rewarded for showing evidence of living by them. Companies that create an employee recognition program that awards employees for expressing the core values of the company through their behavior, see company-wide engagement because employees look out for these behaviors in each other. People see others being rewarded for positive behavior and become inspired to emulate the same behavior.

  • Tap into local problem-solving skills

Never underestimate the ability of people to come up with solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. If the company is facing a problem, share it with employees. Hold meetings to discuss the problem and encourage all present to think of a solution. Just talking about the issue might spark the beginnings of a solution.

It’s amazing what people can come up with when they have the opportunity to share their ideas in an encouraging environment. When employees are asked to help solve a problem that the company is facing, they feel valued. 

  • Copy Google

Google has been holding all-hands-on-deck meetings called, TGIF, for many years. These monthly employee forums are available to the whole company. 

You can do the same at your company. The CEO attends the meeting, which is a forum for employees to raise concerns with the management and discuss workplace issues. Employees can raise questions at the meeting or submit them anonymously.

These kinds of meetings are known to foster employee engagement because employees feel invested in the company when their leaders openly discuss issues with them.

  • Find out how employees feel and respond to their feedback

Give employees an opportunity to be honest about how they feel about their work and the workplace. This can best be achieved through an anonymous survey. The response to your survey will be an indication of employee engagement.

Be sure to respond to their feedback. Even if you are not in a position to address their concerns immediately, say so and let them know what steps you can take now. Not responding to employee feedback is a sure way to stifle employee engagement.

Final thoughts

There are many more ideas to encourage employee engagement, but even just implementing a few can help to keep employees engaged. Engaged employees are more committed to their work, their colleagues and their workplace, which benefits the organization through higher productivity, better retention rates, customer satisfaction, and a reputation as a workplace of choice.