There’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard about employee engagement. Who are we kidding? Of course you’ve heard about employee engagement. You can hardly move for employee engagement questionnaires and policies.
But do you actually know why you should be engaging your employees?
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is the “emotional commitment your employees feel for your company and your company’s goals.” It’s the special ingredient that gets your employees to go that extra mile off their own backs.
Why is employee engagement important?
If our employees are happy, satisfied or even just showing up, isn’t that enough?
The short answer is: no.
It’s easy to mistake satisfaction and happiness for employee engagement - but they’re not the same thing. Your staff can be very happy or satisfied in their roles – they may love the people they work with and the products you sell – but they might not be engaged. Your team might get on well and love a natter on a Monday morning, but if all that banter means neglected customers, it’s likely employee engagement isn’t as strong as it could be.
Engagement fires up business performance. Engaged employees will stay an extra hour to finish a task, work hard on projects even if they’re not being assessed on them and even help other teams in the business without seeing a personal benefit.
An engaged salesperson will work that bit harder to hit targets, whether or not there’s an incentive for them to do so. They’ll give extra energy and commitment, even at the end of the week. And an engaged social media manager will spend their time making sure each post is optimised, they’ll respond appropriately to engagements and proactively seek to improve your brand’s performance online.
7 reasons why employee engagement is important
Engaged employees drive business success. Fact.
Because they’re more committed to your cause, engaged employees want their team and what they see as “their business” to succeed. It’s why they’re happy to stay late to complete that report and why they’ll go out of their way to make sure customers are truly happy and receiving excellent customer service.
But this only scratches the surface - let's explore the benefits in more depth. Here are 7 key reasons why having engaged employees is important in any business.
1. Increased productivity
Employee engagement is so closely linked to productivity, it’s difficult to find an example where the two aren’t mentioned together.
Engaged employees know and respect your organisation’s goals and want to succeed. Whether your goals are based on cleaning offices or designing labels, they’ll get behind you and do their best to help you deliver those goals. Be careful though - as much as engaged employees will help you boost your productivity, disengaged employees in your business can negate that productivity – it’s important to focus on boosting engagement of your entire workforce, not a chosen few.
2. Lower absence
Engaged employees are less likely to take time off sick. Duvet days are less frequent and lost time – where employees arrive late and leave early - is less pronounced. After all, they believe in doing their best to help your business succeed.
Watch out, though: a culture that places too much value on coming into the office can suffer from presenteeism, which will undermine engagement if not tackled. The best advice? Focus on a holistic approach to wellness, making sure employees know when to call in sick – so they don’t spread their germs. This also ensures employees are rested and well enough to deliver.
You can track absences using cloud-based software such as Breathe to stay on top of any patterns that might point towards unengaged employees.
3. Better retention, lower turnover
Engaged employees are less likely to be tempted into new jobs by recruiters. Studies suggest that the most engaged employees are an incredible 87% less likely to leave their role; sticking by you through thick and thin. As our workplaces evolve and the number of selective millennials increase on your payroll, it’s clear that engaging your employees will pay dividends in the long term. Those engaged employees will act as advocates for your firm, making it easier to bring in talented individuals from outside your organisation.
4. Easier recruitment
Engaged employees aren’t just more likely to stay with you. They’re also more likely to help you bring in new employees by acting as advocates. Platforms such as Glassdoor make corporate culture more visible than ever, and prospective employees can check out how you perform against criteria that they rate as important in less than five minutes. If reports are glowing, you can be assured of more potential applicants next time you hire – making recruitment easier all round.
5. Customer satisfaction
It’s not just your employees that benefit from strong engagement - your customers benefit too. Studies consistently tell us that engaged employees mean better customer satisfaction.
Fantastic – that should translate to better long-term company loyalty and brand performance. But there’s another, perhaps not unsurprising effect: satisfied customers result in better employee engagement. It’s a win-win for both customer and employees. What a result.
Should we be surprised that employee engagement results in more creativity and innovation? Probably not. After all, if an employee is motivated to do their best for their company, they’ll be prepared to put the effort into thinking more creatively to solve challenges that they and their team are up against. Pleasingly, there’s evidence to support the fact that workplaces that encourage innovation and creativity also result in greater employee engagement. A 'buy one, get one free', if you like.
7. Increased competitiveness
There’s nothing like leveraging employee engagement to increase your team’s focus on beating the competition. Your employees might not be elite athletes, but increased engagement will give them a competitive focus any football coach or Olympic squad manager would be proud of. And this sort of focus fires up creativity, customer service and productivity. A gold medal result for sure.