Employee engagement is hard to define. Some people think of it as how happy employees are or how committed they seem to reach business goals. Yet, there’s a lot more to it than that. Employee engagement is a key metric that powers your organizational culture, keeps your team members focused and dramatically improves retention.
When people truly care about their work and collaborate as a team for the benefit of the company, productivity levels rise. This results in improved customer satisfaction and a positive impact on your bottom line.
Related: Worried About Disengaged Employees? Make These 7 Changes.
Your employees are a competitive advantage
Employee engagement is so important that it can become your ultimate competitive advantage. When your workers understand how they can contribute to your company and see their efforts in action, they become more motivated and add value to your business.
It’s simple but true — happy employees make happy customers. It’s the most sure-fire way of ensuring growth even in challenging times. Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan built his business because he wasn’t happy at his previous job.
He created a workplace where people became part of the big picture. His company, Zoom Video Communications, has recently been thrust into the limelight for its $9-billion-valuation during a crisis. Yet, it was also voted the workplace with the happiest employees in 2019. This is not a coincidence.
The tech sector, in general, appears high on the list of companies that understand the importance of employee engagement. Facebook, Alphabet, Apple, LinkedIn and Salesforce regularly find themselves among the top slots when it comes to fostering employees’ needs.
One such fintech startup that places its people front and center is the fast-growing Katapult. Its management understands how crucial engagement is for business success, so it invests in continued training and creating a workplace where people are encouraged to show empathy.
“In the fintech sector,” says CEO Orlando Zayas, “trust and customer experience have the highest impact, so it’s important to work with the right people and build trust among clients. Our associates are the most important assets of the company. We’re not only providing them with the best tools for success, but we also focus on making staff feel secure, informed and important.”
Engaged employees are more involved in your business and more likely to ensure successful outcomes. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, highly engaged teams can generate a 10 percent increase in customer ratings and a 20 percent increase in sales.
Related: 9 Strategies To Build An Employee-First Culture
How to take care of your staff
Successful companies are transparent and share their goals with their team. This boosts engagement by empowering employees with specific results-driven tasks that keep them happy, productive, and efficient. Companies with the happiest employees have one thing in common: working environments where people feel connected to the organization and have positive experiences inside them.
Creating generous boundaries for your employees, managers and executives can also increase their sense of responsibility and interest in what’s best for the company. Leading employers create a culture that shows they care about employees. “The Oneflare team is pretty much all working from home during the pandemic, so it’s up to us as leaders to encourage our people to take appropriate breaks and to switch off fully in the evening,” says Bill Tucker, CEO of Oneflare.
Hiring talented people and offering them financial benefits alone is no longer enough to ensure success. The real difference lies in a positive workplace where employees can communicate freely, and their work is recognized. Most companies with happy employees create career paths for them and help them grow with the company.
Employee engagement, productivity and creativity all thrive through recognition, rewards and motivation. Of course, money and bonuses play an important role, but financial incentives alone won’t keep your employees on board. People need to be well-taken care of. Other benefits such as life insurance, wellness programs, gym memberships, remote working, or working hours that encourage work-life balance, will all help your staff feel more appreciated in your business.
I reached out via email to employee relations expert, Jason Greer, CEO of Greer Consulting, to provide some additional insights into how leaders can best recognize the efforts of their team. “I coach managers to embrace the concept ‘people will work for money, but they will die for respect and recognition,'” Greer wrote. “To maximize employee engagement, it is critically important that leaders take the time to understand what employees need, in terms of respect and recognition, with the understanding that what works for one may not work for another. Take the time to get to know your employees. Listen to their hopes, dreams, fears and insecurities, and create a space that is open and inviting for them. You will be amazed at how productive all people are when they feel empowered and embraced by a culture that values all that they bring to the table and applauds their contributions.”
Related: Investing in Your Employees Is the Smartest Business Decision You Can Make
How to measure employee engagement
Unfortunately, employees are rarely as happy as their managers think they are. Almost half of all employees regularly consider quitting their jobs. Apart from money, the leading triggers to leave a job include a toxic work environment (17 percent) and a lack of growth opportunities (15 percent). It seems that, despite being aware of its importance, most companies rarely know how to improve employee engagement levels or simply don’t have the resources to invest in every employee’s personal and professional development.
Yet, not investing in your staff can hold a company back. Organizations with highly engaged employees regularly outperform their competitors and improve customer retention rates. So, if you don’t know how your employees feel about working with you, it’s time to ask for feedback.
Measuring employee engagement is hard but not impossible. As it’s mostly about emotions, your research results will rarely be 100 percent accurate. However, feedback from your employees can provide you with valuable clues about what’s working — and what needs to be improved in your company.
To measure employee engagement, identify what matters most to your team members, what motivates them to become better at their jobs and what plans they have for their careers. This allows you to get to know your employees beyond productivity numbers and sales reports.
If you survey staff to see how likely they are to recommend your company, you’ll only get only one side of the story. You need to dig deeper to find the “hidden truths.” For example, can your employees balance work and personal obligations? Do they feel valued in their roles? Is it common practice for managers to encourage communication and say “thank you” or “well done” when a department reaches a milestone?
Most companies need to improve the way they handle employee engagement to ensure successful business outcomes. Listening to your employees is fundamental for building an organizational culture in which people feel valued.
Take a look at what former employees say about your workplace. Were they satisfied with their jobs? Why did they leave your company? Find out if there are similarities between what former and current employees say about your organization.
A business needs to listen to its employees and build better working experiences based on their feedback. Even the smallest changes that can make your working environment more pleasant are a step in the right direction where everybody wins.
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