What is Employee Engagement & Why Does It Matter?
Employee engagement is a measure of how committed and involved an employee is at work. This is a key part of the employee’s relationship with their company. The main driver of engagement is when an employee feels like their manager and leaders care about them. But engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. Engagement has become important for companies as it relates to higher retention, productivity, and workplace safety.
Why Employee Engagement Matters
Engagement is important for many reasons. Unfortunately, most companies misunderstand its importance and focus solely on engagement. But they should also focus on things like employee access, employee experience, and employee satisfaction. These three other factors are key influences on how engaged an employee is at work.
But it matters because it indicates when an employee is actively engaged in their work or workplace culture. Although it is equally as important to focus on an employee’s job performance, engaged employees also actively participate in company culture and help drive culture. Research from Gallup has also shown that it is tied to many other critical business outcomes that clearly demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of increased engagement.
Gallup Research on Employee Engagement
Gallup has conducted extensive research on this topic and its impacts on a company. In Gallup’s Employee Engagement Meta-Analysis, they found that when engagement improves, this results in improved employee performance. They found that better engagement led to:
- 41% lower absenteeism
- 17% higher productivity
- 58% fewer patient safety incidents
- 70% fewer safety incidents.
Improved employee experience also leads to an increase in quality with:
- 40% fewer defects
- 10% higher customer ratings
Engagement is positively correlated with profit as well with 21% higher profitability and 20% higher sales when employees are engaged. And highly engaged employees turnover less often.
How Do You Measure Employee Engagement?
Measuring engagement is often a difficult task because there are many different definitions of what it is. Many companies use an annual employee engagement survey to measure engagement. These surveys are often composed of questions that help the company measure eNPS (or employee net promoter score), employee satisfaction, and employee commitment to the company.
But there are more ways to measure engagement. Many internal communications professionals will track engagement on internal messages. This includes tracking likes, comments, social shares, and general channel usage (e.g. logins and session duration). This helps understand which employees are using tools regularly and who are willing to go out of their way to engage on a message.
That said, just because an employee doesn’t engage with content does not necessarily mean they are disengaged. Measuring content engagement is just one input that can be analyzed when assessing employee engagement.
How Do You Improve Engagement?
Improving staff engagement requires a strategy that looks beyond vanity metrics like content engagement. To improve this metric, you have to do more than improve content quality. A common trend in the workplace is to look to improve culture and engage employees with things like pool tables, events, or other workplace perks. But the truth is, that improving engagement requires holistically improving the employee experience. Here’s why.
When you improve employee experience, you increase employee satisfaction. When employees are satisfied and have a supportive, inclusive, and positive work experience, worker engagement will go up.
So, how do you improve the employee experience? It starts with an employee listening strategy to collect employee feedback through things like employee surveys or focus groups. We also recommend measuring regularly and conducting engagement surveys to keep a finger on the pulse at your company. To improve EX, you need to go beyond wants like fun workplace perks and focus on employee needs.
- What tools or information are they lacking to get their jobs done?
- Are their managers effective communicators and coaches?
- Are you providing them with a basic living wage and benefits package?
- Do employees feel connected to one another and respected?
Addressing some of these basic needs are key to improving both employee experience and engagement.
How is Worker Engagement Tied to Employee Experience?
Worker engagement is intrinsically linked to employee experience (EX). In fact, the quality of the employee experience directly impacts the level of engagement within a company.
When employees have a positive and fulfilling experience at work, it greatly enhances their engagement. On the other hand, if the employee experience is poor or unsatisfactory, it’s likely that engagement levels will also be low.
EX encompasses the entire journey an employee goes through within a company, from the initial recruitment process to their ongoing interactions, development, and overall work environment. When organizations prioritize and invest in creating a positive employee experience, it cultivates an environment that fosters engagement.
Here are some key ways in which worker engagement is tied to employee experience:
- Sense of purpose. When employees have a clear understanding of the organization’s mission, values, and how their individual roles contribute to the larger goals, they develop a deeper connection to the organization and its goals.
- Supportive leadership. Effective leaders play a crucial role in shaping the employee experience. When leaders demonstrate empathy, provide support, and empower their teams, it establishes trust and encourages open communication.
- Growth opportunities. EX is enriched when companies offer opportunities for continuous learning, skill development, and career advancement. When employees feel that their growth is supported and encouraged, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their roles.
- Communication and feedback. Transparent and effective communication channels are vital for a positive worker experience. When employees are well-informed about company news, goals, and expectations, they feel more connected and engaged.
By recognizing the relationship between worker engagement and employee experience, companies can proactively improve both aspects.
Employee Engagement Trends
Staff engagement has remained fairly consistent over the last decade. Thirty years ago, 70% of employees were not engaged at work. In 2019, that number had barely changed; 69% of employees were actively disengaged.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, however, we did see some slight increases in engagement. Despite some gains in workplace engagement, there are additional challenges we tracked in 2020. With 61% of American workers working remotely full time in 2020, this increased the need for connection, collaboration, and communication. And we see these same wants and needs among the deskless workforce.
Increasing these three key areas of an employee’s experience will require a strong partnership between internal communications and human resources. It will also require a need to improve frontline manager communication by helping them to conduct daily or weekly team huddles (also called: team stand-ups, pre-shift meetings, and post-shift meetings). And internal communications professionals will need to focus on focus groups to keep a finger on the pulse of the employee body.
Another key trend is the importance of senior leaders being transparent, authentic, and open. This will create a great opportunity for internal communications professionals to demonstrate to executive leadership that they are strategic advisors.
And last, one of the biggest trends is the importance of building an amazing workplace culture. Often high performing employees churn because of dysfunctional cultures and poor management, and great cultures attract top talent.
How Effective Communication Boosts Employee Engagement
Effective internal communication plays a critical role in boosting employee engagement. When companies prioritize and implement a comprehensive internal communication strategy, it has a positive impact on employee engagement levels.
Here are key reasons why effective communication is essential for fostering employee engagement:
- Access to information. When employees have access to timely and relevant information, they feel informed and connected to the organization. Transparent and open communication channels ensure that employees have the necessary information to perform their jobs effectively. This leads to a sense of trust and empowers employees to make informed decisions.
- Feeling supported. Effective communication provides a platform for employees to voice their concerns, seek guidance, and receive support from their managers and colleagues. When employees feel that their opinions are heard and valued, they develop a sense of belonging and trust within the organization. This support fosters a positive work environment and encourages active engagement.
- Inclusion and involvement. When employees are included in the communication process, it creates a sense of involvement and ownership. Providing opportunities for employees to provide feedback, share ideas, and participate in decision-making processes makes them feel valued and respected. This inclusivity encourages a higher level of engagement and commitment to the organization’s goals.
- Goal alignment. Effective communication ensures that employees understand the organization’s mission, vision, and goals. When employees see a clear connection between their individual contributions and the overall objectives of the company, they develop a stronger sense of purpose. This alignment drives motivation and engagement as employees recognize their impact on the company’s success.
Communication Best Practices to Increase Engagement
To enhance employee engagement through effective communication, trust the following best practices:
- Use a variety of communication channels. Employ a mix of channels such as intranets, email updates, team meetings, and digital collaboration tools to reach employees across different levels and departments.
- Foster two-way communication. Encourage open dialogue to create a culture of collaboration and engagement. Employees should feel comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas.
- Provide regular updates. Keep employees informed about company news, updates, and relevant information to ensure transparency and maintain a sense of shared purpose.
- Personalize communication. Tailor messages to different employee groups to ensure relevance and maximize engagement. Recognize the diverse needs and preferences of employees when delivering communication.
How Does theEMPLOYEEapp Help Improve Engagement?
theEMPLOYEEapp improves employee engagement by giving all employees—from the office to the frontline—access to communication, resources, and senior leadership.
Our mobile internal communications app also gives administrators the ability to target and personalize content to specific employee groups, which makes content more relevant to the intended audience. When content is more relevant, an employee will feel more included and important to the company, in addition to feeling like the company understands their role, their needs, and their wants.
theEMPLOYEEapp also is set up with many ways to engage, including likes, comments, social sharing, survey integrations, an employee directory, and a calendar. This gives employees a way to ask questions, provide feedback, get in touch with the right people or departments, and participate in company events.