Have you ever had one of those mornings when you dreaded the idea of getting out of the bed to go to work? Now imagine feeling that way on most work days. That’s probably how 31% of India’s workforce feels which consists of employees who are actively disengaged. Therefore, chances are that even your workforce consists of employees who are disengaged.
In this article, we will help you learn what is employee engagement and how you can improve it in your organisation.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is the process of creating a workplace where each employee feels committed to company goals and success. This is only possible when employees feel a sense of connection to their work and organisation, which motivates them to deliver their best work. Such employees are referred to as engaged employees.
Gallup, an American analytics and advisory company, has been studying employee engagement for the past 50 years and has found that there are three types of employees in every workplace:
1. Engaged employees
They incarnate Steve Jobs’ quote: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
These employees are emotionally invested in their organisation and work with full commitment towards the company’s success. They understand the role they play within the larger picture, feel a sense of purpose in their work, and are motivated to make a significant contribution.
2. Disengaged employees
This is where the majority of today’s workforce falls. Disengaged employees will often fulfill their work responsibilities, but may not feel inspired to go beyond their call of duty.
3. Actively disengaged employees
These employees feel no connection to their job or organisation. They not only fail to perform their duties but also share their resentment with others which can affect the overall morale of the team. If left unchecked, this can affect the productivity of high performers.
What is the difference between employee engagement and job satisfaction?
The terms employee engagement and job satisfaction are often used interchangeably. However, there are key differences between them.
Job satisfaction indicates how comfortable your employees are within the company. This can include their satisfaction with company policies, compensation, administration, work-life balance, job security, etc. Given that these are essential needs for any employee, job satisfaction should be a priority for your organisation. However, this is not the same as employee engagement.
Employee engagement, as mentioned above, is the measure of how committed your employees feel towards the company values and goals. Can they see themselves as part of your organisation in the long term? Would they recommend your company as a great place to work at?
While an employee may be satisfied, they may not be an engaged employee and vice versa. For example, an employee can be satisfied with their compensation but still lack the motivation to give their best to the work they are doing.
It is necessary that you understand the differences between these two terms so that you can come up with the initiatives to address the right concerns.
Why is employee engagement important?
Employee engagement helps with both employee well-being and an organisation’s success.
1. Drives innovation
Engaged employees are more likely to innovate rather than doing the bare minimum. This can create great value for any organisation especially during times of adversity such as financial setbacks.
2. Improves your retention rate
Reducing the attrition rate is often one of the topmost concerns for any business as hiring a replacement is a costly and time-intensive process. Since employee engagement aims to create a workplace where employees feel valued, it’s unlikely that engaged employees would look for jobs elsewhere.
For instance, a Bersin research found that companies using recognition to engage employees had 31% less turnover than companies who did not recognise their employees.
3. Lowers absenteeism and increases productivity
Engaged employees are more likely to give in their all which can increase productivity by 17%.
4. Brings in more revenue
Employee engagement has also shown to be directly profitable. Companies with a high engagement rate experienced a spike of 20% in their sales.
5. Creates a safer work environment
Research by Gallup has also found that engaged workplaces are less prone to safety incidents. This is because engaged employees believe that their job is important and tend to focus on quality and doing the right thing.
These benefits of employee engagement have not gone unnoticed by 71% of senior executives around the world who believe employee engagement is key to organisational success.
What causes disengagement at work?
1. Poor management
While an employee may be aligned with company values and goals, they may not be working under the right management. Disengagement can result from a manager who is unwilling to provide regular feedback, does not give recognition, and does not hold regular one-on-one meetings.
2. No career growth
If there are no advancement opportunities, learning and development initiatives, and mentorship, then employees can start feeling like they are in a career rut. This would prompt them to start looking for jobs elsewhere.
3. Mismatch between skills and role
While employees may have been enthusiastic when they started the job, they could have found that their skills don’t align with their role.
4. Lack of trust in company’s leadership
A key component of employee engagement is the connection that the employees feel with their organisation. This includes the company values and the decisions made by the leadership. A disillusionment with the decision-making and ethics of top leadership can cause employees to disengage.
5. Weak communication
Lack of communication regarding an employee’s performance, expectations from the role, and goals can cause an employee to feel purposeless and unmotivated.
6. Poor onboarding experience
According to a study conducted by Glint, an employee who has had a poor onboarding experience is eight times more likely to be disengaged at work. Consequently, they don’t recommend their organisation as a great place to work.
7. Lack of challenging work
Employees who are never a part of any exciting projects may start to feel unchallenged which can cause monotony and eventually disengagement.
What are the employee engagement initiatives that you can take at your workplace?
Now that you know why employee engagement is important, let’s find out how to create an engaged workforce.
1. Define core company values
If the employees can resonate with core company values, then they are bound to feel a sense of connection at the workplace. Once you have defined your values, make sure that every employee lives and breathes them. One way leaders can do this is through leading by example in their day-to-day work and interactions.
You can also make the core values a part of your evaluation process during interviews. This will help you in hiring candidates who already feel connected to your company to some degree.
2. Show recognition
Recognition is one of the key drivers of employee engagement. While a ‘thank you’ does pass for recognition, it does not have the same impact as personalised appreciation. Hence, recognition should be as specific as possible to the project and the employee to have the maximum impact. Additionally, you can provide incentives which can again be unique to an employee.
3. Lead and manage with empathy
Leading with empathy has always been an essential skill but it has gained more importance over the coronavirus pandemic. Amidst rising tension and fears, employees want to experience empathetic leadership and workplaces that lacked this attribute have invited harsh criticism for their behaviour.
According to a study by Businessolver, 90% of employees said that they are more likely to stay with an empathetic employer.
4. Communicate effectively
Communicating efficiently can have a huge impact on how engaged employees feel. This is easier said than done as communication effectively can be subjective to each employee. However, there are still some common things that employees expect in their workplace communication such as getting regular feedback, conducting check-ins, clarifying goals, conveying expectations, and collaborating.
5. Provide career growth opportunities
Employees are more likely to stay with an organisation if they find that the company is invested in their career growth. This could be in the form of cross-functional training, tuition reimbursement, access to courses, and even mentoring.
This process could also help you in placing employees in the right roles if employees find themselves in jobs where they can’t make use of their strengths.
7. Create employee wellness programs
A research conducted by QuantumWorkplace found that employees working in organisations with health and well-being benefits were 11% more engaged than companies without wellness programs. This could include providing employees with healthy meals/snacks, encouraging fitness activities at work, aid for mental health counselling, stress leave, etc.
8. Foster diversity, inclusion, and equity
Create a workplace where everyone feels safe and has an equal opportunity to advance in their career. Diverse and inclusive workforces are more innovative and tend to outperform their competitors.
Who is responsible for employee engagement?
Previously, the responsibility of employee engagement would have rested with the human resources department. However, with the growing realisation of the significance of employee engagement, it has become associated with everyone from leaders to managers to every other employee.
How to measure employee engagement?
So you have decided to put in more effort into employee engagement? Awesome! Now let’s find out how you can measure it.
1. Decide on the goal for employee engagement
Before you begin implementing any employee engagement initiatives, take the time to understand what your goals are. For example:
Improving retention rate (you can even decide on a number)
Becoming a great place to work for
2. Gauge the current state of employee engagement
An employee engagement survey can give you an overview of employee engagement across your entire workforce. This will help you see the current shortcomings and help you implement the right action plan.
3. Share the goal with your employees
Once you have decided what the goal is, share it with the team and tell them why this goal was chosen, what are the action steps you will be taking to meet the same, and what is required of the employees.
4. Ask for feedback through pulse surveys
Shorter and regular surveys can be used to understand engagement in different departments, roles, etc. This feedback can help you make any quick changes to achieve your goals.
This was employee engagement 101. If you are looking for enthusiastic freshers to join your workforce, you can register and post a job on Fresher Jobs on Internshala.