Why Employee Engagement Is Important and How to Do It Well
Over the last two decades, employee engagement has emerged as an important element of any successful workplace. It first appeared in management theory in the 1990s, and the concept was gradually adopted across many sectors, from government and nonprofit to a range of private industries.
Some trends in staff engagement initiatives have come and gone over the years, so how can you know exactly what employee engagement is, and how can you use it to have real impact and staying power?
How employee engagement works
In essence, employee engagement is about making sure staff members are involved in the workplace to the greatest extent possible. The notion is that job satisfaction increases when people feel that their work matters to the company and that they’re a valued staff member.
You will not likely come across a CEO or a director who would say they don’t want an engaged workforce. Employers are looking for reliable hires with a good work ethic who’ll put in a solid effort. They also expect people to bring their best selves to work and use their expertise to get the job done well — whatever that looks like.
However, staff members who are truly engaged do more than that. They may not always be the company’s rising stars, but they’re interested in contributing beyond what’s required of their position. These employees make suggestions, mentor others, and boost morale. It’s this attitude that formal employee engagement programs seek to support and grow.
The program benefits
When employee engagement programs work well, you’ll see increased enthusiasm spread throughout the company. Positive emotions are just as contagious as negative ones, after all. People will be more inclined to see themselves as part of a team, and how they support one another will demonstrate this.
With healthy morale, the firm will become known as a good place to work, which will make it easier to attract the right candidates for job postings. Engaged employees are more inclined to remain with an employer for the long-term. This means lower staff turnover and less cost to hire new employees. It also leads to a higher overall level of expertise within the staff population. Moreover, employees will be interested in learning new skills to move up within the ranks, making succession planning that much easier.
Increased positivity and teamwork translate into fewer grievances among staff and lower human resources costs to resolve conflict and restore working relationships. Furthermore, when people work together collaboratively, there’s a certain synergy that naturally occurs. In turn, this can result in proposals for innovative ideas, the development of efficient business practices, and higher productivity in general. All of these benefit the company’s bottom line.
So, what’s the pathway to improving staff engagement? It’s important to know that the firm’s efforts to promote a more committed workforce must be genuine. If they’re not, the whole purpose will be defeated and employees will likely believe the company doesn’t care about them.
To start with, business leaders need to understand their workers on an individual level. That means being engaged themselves by being visible and accessible to staff members. Getting to know people personally begins with simple practices like engaging in small talk at coffee breaks or walking the office floor daily and chatting with employees. These habits provide you the opportunity to ask a few informal questions about an individual’s work, showing that you value their contribution and you’re interested in their thoughts.
While continuing with an informal approach, take steps to understand your staff more purposefully. It’s critical to find out exactly how they want to contribute and what’s meaningful for them when it comes to being engaged at work.
This is where a formal questionnaire can be an invaluable tool. It allows you to assess employee satisfaction and invite suggestions about improving the environment. Once tallied up, the results should be provided to staff members along with an action plan for the ideas.
Implementing improved workplace practices and embarking on new approaches to include staff in the business should be done with transparency. Inviting staff to voluntarily help lead the process can be fruitful as well. Further, monitoring the impacts of these initiatives and encouraging employee feedback along the way is necessary to support success.
Having a truly engaged workforce requires staying in touch with how employees want to be engaged with the business while enlisting their help to sustain an impactful staff engagement program.