Employee Engagement: What’s All the Fuss About?

As a business owner, executive or manager, you’ve likely heard more about the topic of employee engagement in recent years. Businesses of all sizes are increasing their focus on it and it’s estimated that companies globally will spend in excess of $1 billion annually to improve it.

With those kinds of dollars, you might be asking yourself: What’s all the fuss about? It turns out high employee engagement is critical to a company’s performance and according to Gallup, those who achieve it experience:

  • 37% lower absenteeism
  • 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 41% fewer patient safety incidents
  • 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 20% higher productivity
  • 21% higher profitability

Given these statistics it’s no wonder why employee engagement is taken so seriously. But many companies simply don’t know how to get started with employee engagement or even what it really means. To better understand what employee engagement is, let’s start with what it’s not…

Employee engagement is not the same as employee happiness. An employee might be happy at work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are productive on behalf of the organization. While company perks like flexible work hours, fitness benefits and game rooms are nice, making employees happy is different from engaging them.

Employee engagement is not employee satisfaction. Engagement is more difficult to attain than satisfaction, and more valuable. A satisfied employee often shows up for work every day without a complaint. But that same “satisfied” employee may not put in extra effort on their own, and they’re much more likely to leave your company for a small bump in pay from another organization. Satisfaction isn’t enough.

So, what is employee engagement?

Employee Engagement IS the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.

This emotional commitment means engaged employees truly care about their work and their company. Their effort is based on a desire to genuinely better the organization, rather than just a paycheck or promotion.

Engaged employees care and go the extra mile.

Now that we’ve established what employee engagement is, let’s explore the easiest way to start improving engagement—the employee engagement survey.

Engagement surveys measure key drivers of engagement within your organization and thus allow you to determine if your employees are engaged or disengaged. Commonly assessed areas that drive engagement include: pay & benefits, advancement opportunity, performance feedback and recognition, training & development opportunities, leadership and the overall work environment.

Gaining insight into what’s important to your employees is just one of the key benefits of conducting an employee engagement survey. Here are a few more:

  • Empower Your Employees: Engagement surveys give employees a voice in the improvement efforts by creating two-way communication with management. When they feel their opinions are valued, they feel empowered and more invested in creating the positive change the company seeks. Creating a safe environment for employees to share feedback is critical. Anonymous surveys administered through a third-party are highly recommended because it offers employees a safe environment without fear of repercussion, and ensures management receives honest feedback and suggestions.
  • Drive Higher Engagement: Once you’ve assessed how engaged your employees are, you can create an action plan to address issues and highlight areas of success. You can develop a company-wide engagement plan or focus directly on action areas for each section in your business. Once you’ve identified the changes needed, you can set priorities, allocate resources and create an implementation schedule.
  • Direct Organizational Growth: Knowing how the company rates on areas like career development opportunities, management/leadership effectiveness and working environment will give you tangible objectives for change. Depending on the size of your organization, assessing engagement will also enable you to identify areas of best practice within your organization. A specific department might rate very high on engagement, and by analyzing the data you can gain insight into how they are achieving it and apply similar practices throughout the organization. Simply put, engagement survey feedback will give you valuable, actionable data that you can implement for organizational growth and success.
  • Benchmark Results: Once you conduct a survey, you can compare your results with industry-specific data to gain an understanding of how your company performs against similar organizations. Benchmarking will also allow you to identify whether any issues are specific to your company or are industry-wide. For example, if the data shows that only 25% of your employees are satisfied with career growth opportunities, you can compare this to the results of other employers to see if this is a typical finding or one that requires immediate action.

It’s important to note that simply sending out a survey will not increase engagement. Meaningful follow-up is the key. If you ask for feedback and never act on it, you can actually do more harm than good. Your response to the results should lead to positive change where change is needed.

Clearly the benefits of understanding employee engagement levels inside your organization are numerous. So what’s the best next step? Partnering with a third-party consultant who specializes in employee engagement studies is the smart choice. Clark Schaefer Hackett’s Strategic HR Services Group specializes in affordable employee engagement solutions for companies of all sizes. Our employee engagement survey services include the following:

  • Meeting with you to fully understand your needs and goals
  • Designing a custom survey questionnaire that meets your needs and aligns with your goals
  • Distribution of the survey
  • Collecting and analyzing the survey data
  • Producing a comprehensive report detailing the strengths of your organization, specific improvement opportunities, as well as recommendations on how to best deliver the results and create an action plan to address key areas for improvement

If you are interested in conducting an employee engagement study or would simply like us to assess your current employee engagement strategies at no cost, contact us today.

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