Employee polls and business studies conducted over the past decade on the topic of employee engagement support the conclusion that employee engagement in the workplace has a direct correlation with business success. Not only does it further company goals and create a positive workplace environment, but it directly increases profits and the likelihood of achieving company goals. While many seek to reap the benefits of employee engagement with perks that increase feelings of happiness or contentment among employees, these efforts miss the mark if they merely change the way employees feel about coming to work. Proper employee engagement leads to a change in employee motivation and performance.
Employee engagement encompasses many different aspects of behaviors, attitudes, and emotions, giving rise to a multitude of defining characteristics. While engaged employees are certainly satisfied with their current employment, the condition of being satisfied merely implies contentment. A satisfied employee is pleased with their tasks, compensation, and work environment. These feelings are passive. They do not motivate employees to put forth more effort, find more efficient processes, or stay later at the office. Nor do they inspire company loyalty or lead to employee retention.
Engaged employees feel a profound emotional connection to their job. They are enthusiastic about what they do. Because they feel empowered to contribute to the organization’s success, they exhibit an increased willingness to work above and beyond expectations. These employees feel connected to their employer’s culture, vision, and goals. They are inspired to assist in problem-solving and innovating solutions to achieve success. They are emotionally vested in what they do for a living.
Fostering New Mindsets
High levels of engagement are common among top executive management. Every step of the executive search process seeks to identify those who are fully engaged in propelling the organization forward. These leaders define company goals and outline plans to achieve them. Unfortunately, engagement at this level is moot if employees at all levels do not possess the same attitudes. These feelings cannot be taught or bought. Yet, there is much that c-suite executives can do to promote positive employee engagement within their organization.
- Responsibility – Employees in managerial positions often feel they have a stake in the outcome of endeavors and initiatives. As such, they have a greater interest in the success or failure of those projects under their purview. Rather than clocking in, completing their tasks, and clocking out each day, employees with responsibilities rise to the occasion, seeing them through to completion. Providing leadership or project ownership opportunities at all levels gives every individual a stake in the company.
- Respect – In the competition to recruit and retain talent, successful companies recognize each individual’s knowledge and expertise. This respect may come in the form of small verbal communications recognizing accomplishments, public recognition, or monetary bonuses. Those who feel appreciated for their efforts are more likely to keep putting forth the effort.
- Identity and Purpose – For many people, their job is an integral part of who they are. It is a significant part of how individuals define themselves. Everyone wants to believe they are important and that their contributions are meaningful. Mundane tasks may seem insignificant in the overarching company plan. Assisting employees in recognizing how their duties are vital in achieving company goals and increasing profits helps give them identity and a sense of purpose even when their tasks seem insignificant.
- Pay and Benefits – It is vital that employees feel adequately compensated for their time and efforts on behalf of the organization at all levels. Intentional or not, you assign value to employees’ work when you define the compensation package for their position. If you pay below market value and offer minimal benefits and perks, employees will likely reward you with the same consideration in return. Providing generous benefits, work from home options, yearly bonuses, and competitive pay clearly demonstrates the significance you place on the job they do. If you deem their contributions as valuable, they will too.
- Culture – Developing a collaborative company culture allows every employee to contribute. Business success cannot be achieved by individuals working in isolation or even by a few brilliant leaders. The most successful businesses use diversity and inclusion principles to bring together people with different ideas, beliefs, and backgrounds to pose unique solutions to existing problems. This innovation pushes them ahead of the competition. Providing equal opportunities for advancement, training, and leadership fosters a team mentality that depends on every person’s contributions.
- Communication – Sharing pertinent information with employees in a consistent and timely manner keeps them apprised of developments within the organization, leading employees to feel more informed and, thus, more secure in their positions. Open communication from executives is a key to developing trusting relationships and engaging employees in the process. Just as advertising language is carefully selected, choose your words wisely when communicating with fellow employees. The way you express your thoughts can significantly impact the way in which others perceive your message. Changes to business operations during the pandemic have left many employees feeling more anxious, socially isolated, and exhausted. Consistent communication regarding company policies, practices, and resources is of particular benefit right now.
Companies with engaged employees can expect to enjoy increased productivity, better customer service, fewer job-related injuries, improved employee health, higher retention rates, greater company loyalty, increased sales, and even greater profitability. When employees are vested in achieving company goals and understand the correlation between their day-to-day tasks and overall success, they are motivated to do what it takes to propel the company to the next level. They will seek out solutions and put in the time and effort necessary to get the job done. Your return will always be greater than your investment.