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Employee EngagementThe Complete Guide

Definition Of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment than an employee has towards an organization. Many people often confuse engagement with employee happiness or employee satisfaction, and although they are close, it is not necessarily the right definition.

The definition is much more complex than that and requires a more complete view of an employee’s life at work.

That commitment comes from how well an employee’s personal goals and values align with the organization’s goals and values.

Employee Engagement Definition

When employees are engaged, they are not there for the money, they are there because they care. They genuinely want to see the company succeed, and they’re willing to use discretionary effort without being asked.

The complete guide to employee engagement

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How To Measure Engagement

Measuring engagement is the first step to improving it, and because of its importance, it’s valuable to get as much information as you can.

The most common way of getting this kind of information is to use employee surveys.

These surveys are designed for the specific purpose of measuring engagement, using statistics to determine the engagement levels of employees.

annual employee engagement surveys are outdated

Managers and consultants of the “big-data age” want a wide array of metrics in a good way.

Not to mention the feedback loops between these kinds of surveys are too far and between in order to be considered prominent.

Frequent employee surveys, or “pulse surveys”, are quickly becoming the most efficient way of measuring engagement because of their frequency and ability to get a picture of how the employee feels about their company.

What is accurate is that both of these processes have made the written survey obsolete, as all major survey vendors provide web-based tools, making it easier for employees to answer questions and managers to aggregate and view data.

So the faster you can collect the data and view it, the better it is for your HR department.

Why Should Companies Improve It?

There is no better reason to improve engagement than the fact that it will make your company more successful.

The return on investment of having engaged employees could end up saving your company hundreds of thousands, if not, millions of dollars a year.

The metrics being measured will allow companies to find those weak points and turn them into strengths, while using data to reassure companies what they’re good at and allow them to be even better.

Companies that take the time to evaluate their employees in order become an employee-centric culture are the ones that tend to make those best places to work lists.

When employees come first, success follows. Giving employees a voice, while giving them the autonomy they require to be innovative, are a solid 1-2 punch that’ll help bring a department to prominence.

Benefits Of Measuring Engagement

The benefits of engagement are hard to ignore. Engaged employees are more productive, because they understand the “why” behind their company and can find joy in what they do.

This also leads to more innovation and productivity and just as important, employees becoming ambassadors for their companies.

When an employee becomes an ambassador, they’re more likely to excel and recruit other motivated employees that will fit well within the culture of the company.

Engaged employees lead to more successful businesses. In the book Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy, it proves with case studies how engagement leads to higher profits. Here is an excerpt from the book:

A Jackson Organization study shows that companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity & assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t. Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” stock prices rose an average of 14% per year from 1998-2005, compared to 6% for the market overall.

Employee Engagement Metrics

There are ten components that go into measuring an engaged employee, all of which are measured within Officevibe’s engagement reports and surveys. These are the makeup of what engages employees and, if improved, what can create a great company culture.

  1. Recognition

    Lack of recognition is the top reason that people leave their jobs. Companies with engaged employees and a great company culture have significantly lower voluntary turnover.

  2. Feedback

    Employees crave feedback that will help them excel at their job. Often, managers are reluctant to give constructive feedback in the fear that they might upset or disengage the employee.

  3. Happiness

    It’s important to keep an eye on your employee’s happiness both in and out of work. Happier employees are 12% more productive and are more passionate about work.

  4. Personal Growth

    Employees want to grow in and outside of work. Humans are genuinely motivated to have autonomy, mastery, and purpose, which are all part of growing professionally, and as a person.

  5. Satisfaction

    Employees have to be satisfied with their environment and enjoy where they work. It’s also important to know if employees are currently satisfied with their wage and benefits.

  6. Wellness

    Healthy employees take fewer sick days and have more energy to perform well at work. Eating and sleeping well, along with exercise, will give them the energy to excel at work and be more productive.

  7. Ambassadorship

    This comes down to one question, would an employee be willing to recommend their company as a place to work? Employee “ambassadors” lead to better recruitment and strengthen the company’s culture.

  8. Relationship With Managers

    Having a good relationship with management will allow employees to work easier and happier. The old expression is “people don’t quit their job, they quit their boss,” so it’s beneficial to see how teams function.

  9. Relationship With Colleagues

    Feeling part of a team can have major effects on engagement and motivation. It’s important to optimize the frequency of communication between employees.

  10. Company Alignment

    It’s valuable to know how employees feel about the mission, core values, and direction of the company. This helps with engagement and gives clear meaning to why they are there.

Using An Employee Engagement Survey Software

Many initiatives fail because they’re viewed as one-time things instead of an ongoing process.

Using an engagement platform is a great way to keep your initiatives running all year long and can help maintain that cadence when things start to slip after an annual survey or annual review.

It also provides a lot of flexibility with comparing data, and allowing managers to view which departments need help.

More importantly, the ability to collect feedback from employees on how things can be better.

Using Officevibe, you’ll be able to collect actionable data throughout the year. Managers continuously get anonymous feedback to make small, incremental changes that boost employee morale.

Employee Engagement Best Practices

Many companies invest a lot of time and energy into improving employee satisfaction, with very little results. Senior managers often wonder why their initial investment isn’t paying off.

The problem is that most of the time, it’s done only by senior management with no involvement from front-line employees.

When establishing an employee program, remember to include employees in the process.

Just the act of including them in the process will make them more engaged because it will make them feel like you genuinely value their opinion.

Things like employee pulse surveys, frequent feedback, and regular praise are all part of an effective program.

In order to have a well-rounded engagement program, make sure at the very least, to include these things:

  1. Frequent and Specific Feedback

    Employees want feedback in real time, and they want the feedback to be specific. Instead of telling an employee they did something wrong, take the time and teach them how to do it better

  2. Frequent Praise

    Because of the way dopamine works and is handled in the brain, it’s recommended to give employees praise at least once a week.

    Don’t just say “great job,” be specific about what you’re praising them for.

  3. Frequent Surveys

    In order to have an accurate picture of what’s going on in your company, you should be surveying your employees much more often than once a year.

  4. A Measuring Mindset

    Let data speak for you. Don’t rely solely on your opinions, and have the type of mindset that you can run small tests to see what is improved.

    Instead of over-planning and over-committing, start small.

  5. Annual Reviews

    In addition to the frequent feedback sessions, a more formal annual review is a great way to take a look back on the whole year and see what went well and what could be improved.

Statistics On Employee Engagement

One benefit of engaged employees is that they’ll be more likely to provide good service to customers. This is what’s known as the service-profit chain.

The service-profit chain is the link between service and profit.

Profits come from customer loyalty. Customer loyalty comes from customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction comes from employee satisfaction.

Here’s the diagram:

service profit chain

Here are a few more statistics that prove engagement is important:

11 Engagement Statistics You Need To Know

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Employee Engagement Strategies

By far the best strategy to increase employee engagement is to get the mid-level managers involved in creating change within their team. Research from Gallup finds that managers account for 70% of the variance in engagement scores.

This means that if you were going to focus on one area to improve, it would be with your managers.

Specifically, you want to improve the relationship between managers and their direct reports. Ideally, you’ll conduct frequent employee surveys to measure the satisfaction on your team. But when monitoring the results of those surveys, it’s important to focus specifically on a manager and their team.

Have open and honest discussions about the results and what could be improved. Frequent discussions combined with frequent one-on-ones to chat informally about how things could be improved is by far the best strategy to improve engagement.

Here are a few other strategies that you could try with your team.

  • Give employees autonomy over their work and let them pick some projects they get to work on.
  • Have your team work on an ambitious project together. Everyone has the innate need to be challenged and to try harder, so this will get them excited for work and build a more collaborative team.
  • Give frequent recognition. Employees expect to be recognized for their work frequently. A good cadence is at least once a week.
  • Offer flexible work arrangements. This shows respect, allows employees to have work-life balance, and lets them adjust their schedules to be the most efficient.

How To Improve Employee Engagement

There are many employee engagement ideas that you can do to keep your employees engaged, and most of these initiatives are free.

These are only a few examples, but they have a long lasting effect on things like happiness, retention, and even hiring.

It’s important for a company to create an environment where people want to work from day one, because top talent is attracted to that type of setting.

  1. Treat Employees With Respect

    Treat your employees the way you’d want to be treated. Offer flex time, because life gets in the way of work all the time and create an environment of trust and transparency.

    Research by Georgetown University found that flexibility is important to employees, with 80% of employees saying they would be happier with more flexible work options.

    Of those workers who already have flexibility at work, 90% said it eased the burden of work-life balance.

    A study conducted by Harvard University showed that enhancing trust and employee commitment creates an environment that fosters happy, committed, productive team members.

  2. Let Employees Be Themselves

    There is a lot of psychology behind letting employees be themselves at work.

    One of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s favorite interview questions is “On a scale from 1-10, how weird are you?” to encourage employees to be unique, and to remind candidates that they embrace people being “weird”.

    It’s called Authentic Self-expression. When people start to not behave like themselves, they start to question themselves and they become disengaged.

  3. Give Back

    Your business should be providing value to the community or society as a whole. This is a very easy way to get employees passionate about your company.

    One study found that 81% of Millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship and that they remain loyal customers of companies that have built philanthropy into their business strategy.

    Corporate philanthropy has also been found to boost employee retention rates.

  4. Start With Why

    This is about understanding your purpose. This is key for employees to be able to get passionate. They need to be able to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

    Everyone should learn more about a concept called The Golden Circle, from Simon Sinek, who talks about it in his famous TED talk about how leaders should be communicating.

Free Bonus: Download the list of 10 activities that are guaranteed to boost engagement.

Key Takeaways

  • Employee engagement is the commitment that employees have towards their organizations.
  • Improving the engagement level is easy, you just need to focus on the right things.
  • Empower your employees by including them, coaching them, and taking care of them
  • When employees are engaged, they’ll give customers an enhanced experience, which will lead to higher profits.
  • Traditionally, companies have used annual surveys to measure engagement, but the new way is to measure as frequently as possible.
  • Tools like Officevibe can help you by surveying your employees each week and collecting anonymous feedback.

This guide was written by:

Jacob Shriar

Jacob Shriar

Jacob is the Director of Content at Officevibe, and is on a mission to make everyone happier, healthier, and more productive at work. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.