What Is Employee Engagement? Why Is It Important?

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What Is Employee Engagement?

  • Your employees are your organisation’s best asset.
  • It is costlier to rectify the effects of one disengaged employee, than to constantly keep them engaged.
  • Invest in your employees before you lose your best talents.

It is not a kept secret that People are an organisation’s best asset. The importance of employees in the organisation cannot be overstated as without them, organisations may not be able to run with full effect. Your employees’ skills are owned by your employees themselves, and not owned by the organisation. If they leave, your organisation’s best skills leave with them. If employee engagement is not a part of your business strategy, it’s time to revise your focus for the year and put in place some employee engagement strategies.

Despite the reiterated importance of employees, Gallup research still shows that only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged. Imagine, 85% of the employees in the entire world are unenthusiastic about their job. And part of this majority could include your organisation’s top talents.

Employee Engagement is all about understanding your employees’ involvement and enthusiasm about their jobs and workplace. It helps organisations understand their employees’ needs and thereby implementing effective measures to retain the best employees. It is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs and how committed they are to their organisations, to ultimately help companies reach greater heights.

Evidently, most organisations in the world are not putting in enough effort to keep their employees dedicated to their company. This is a huge risk as top talents could decide to leave any time a better offer from another company comes along. In fact, 81% of employees will consider leaving their jobs if the right offer comes along.

Studies have also shown that disengaged employees are 60% more likely to cause errors and defects in their work. This could translate into costly mistakes the organisation has to solve. A study of 1,500 respondents done by The Engagement Institute even shows that disengaged employees can cost companies up to $550 billion dollars a year. Disengaged employees are also more likely to feel unmotivated, not meet the expectations of their roles, and to absent themselves from work. This comes with the feeling of disconnect the employees have with the company and the corporate goals.

Gallup has shown that it requires 4 engaged employees to counteract the effects of 1 disengaged employee. This further emphasises on the importance of investing in employee engagement efforts as preventive measures against the effects that come with disengaged employees.

That is why Employee Engagement is one of the most important work-place approaches in any and every organisation that ever existed. Studies have shown again and again that companies with high employee engagement perform better and are more profitable, specifically by 21%.

Getting your employees engaged is critical to retaining your best talents and keeping them loyal to your organisation. It is about ensuring that your employees are constantly committed to their jobs and organisation, and not allowing room for costly disengagement problems to arise.

Importance of Engaged Employees

Let me paint a picture for you.

Your organisation has engaged in some highly skilled employees. These employees are very dedicated to meeting their functional goals. They’ve stuck with you and built the business with you for 3-4 years. You’ve noticed the positive effects of your highly skilled crew in those initial years, and they have achieved whatever they were set to achieve. However, the growth has started to plateau, and you notice your crew members starting to express desires to leave for other job opportunities. You then realise that the cost of replacing these highly skilled employees is far higher than if they were retained. However, it is too late the rectify the situation.

Having highly skilled employees will give you great, visible immediate pay offs and may be able to take your business to the next level at the start. However, it may not be the key for organisations to have sustainable growth in the long run.

The key to sustaining those positive effects, to organically steadily grow and improve your business performance in the long run is – you guessed it – in keeping them engaged.

Polls have shown that employees these days are not choosing jobs with the importance of salary or job stability in mind. With the shifting landscape of the workforce, companies need to revise their employee benefits to attract the right talents as the needs and wants of people change with each generation. In the age of the millennials making up majority of the workforce, people these days want to go to work not just for the money or the paycheque, but for the enjoyment of the work and the workplace itself, where they can grow and learn with their organisations. However, a Gallup study has shown that only 30% of employees feel that they are encouraged to grow with their organisations.

Gallup defines engaged employees as “employees who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to work and the workplace.” Having engaged employees that are dedicated to your organisation’s goals will significantly positively impact your organisation’s business performance. An organisation with engaged employees will have a significantly lower staff turnover rate. Productivity levels and profitability in your company will increase by 21%, according to Gallup.  

 Impact VS. Satisfaction

StrengthsAsia defines engaged employees as “employees that experience high satisfaction, and creates high impact in the work that they do.”

The impact an employee creates is about the best contribution of an employee towards the organisation and the team. It focuses on the value and impact of the contribution, the KPIs met, and the achievement attained by the employee.

The satisfaction of an employee is about how happy and contented they are at work. Employee satisfaction is found in the areas of work environment, relationships with colleagues, job roles, functions or different aspects of the job.

According to StrengthsAsia, there are 4 different types of disengaged employees: Burner, Cosy Corner, Disengaged, and Actively Disengaged. Basically, having employees who are highly impactful and less satisfied will result in employees who are burned out. Having employees who are highly satisfied with low impact will result in employees who are in the cosy corner. Having employees who are low in impact and satisfaction will result in employees who are disengaged. If these employees are taking active measures to create a negative workplace, they are actively disengaged.

From that, we can see that on top of just constantly reviewing the impact the employees create such as keeping track of their KPIs in their yearly reviews, employers should also give due attention to their employees’ satisfaction level at work to achieve the optimal engagement level in their employees.

How Can I Start Engaging My Employees?

While being engaged in the work that we do is mainly dependent on the mindset of the individuals themselves, it is important to recognise that external factors play a big part in forming that mindset.

Thus, it is also important to recognise that money spent towards your people are to be considered investments, and not expenses. As we have seen how much more costly it is to undo the effects of one disengaged employees, it is imperative that companies recognise the important of investing in their people from the very beginning. It is in the employer’s best interest to align the organisation’s goals and mission with that of the employees.

Engaging your employees should be one of the KPIs that your Human Resources department should keep at the top of their list this year, if they haven’t already. There are some activities that can be implemented immediately as conscious efforts to getting your employees more engaged at work.

One easy method is to give affirmation and credits whenever they are due. This will give your employees the confidence and morale boost that will keep them engaged in the work that they do. Another method is for employers to build a rapport with their employees through various ways, one of which is to do check-ins where necessary. It is also important to develop a camaraderie amongst colleagues in the office if there isn’t one already as having friends at work is vital to an office’s morale.

There are also various tools out there that can be used to help improve employee engagement at work, such as Gallup’s CliftonStrengths StrengthsFinder tool, MBTI, and Soundwave, just to name a few.

Having an engaged workplace with engaged employees is key to having a sustainable company growth and performance due to the improved productivity and work quality. As Gallup research shows, “a job has the potential to be at the heart of a great life, but only if its holder is engaged at work.

 

StrengthsAsia has helped many individual and corporate clients all throughout the region in identifying and maximizing their talents, in driving engagement and increasing motivation in their work and life.

Sign up for our upcoming StrengthsAsia Showcase Workshop to enjoy a world-class facilitated experience to learn how you can optimise performance with CliftonStrengths engagement strategies.

Aly is StrengthsAsia’s marketing and communications guru and lead editor. She's over the top inquisitive and everyone in the company knows her as “The Googler” as she practically googles everything. Honestly, we all worry for her… She is also the Principal Trainer for our one of a kind ice cream team building workshops in Asia.

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