If ever there was a buzzword for the 21st century, it has to be engagement. You see it everywhere, from SEO experts telling you to create engaging content for your website to customer relationship experts advising on the importance of engaging your clients. The phrase “employee engagement” is one that is often thrown around too, and here, we will talk about what the phrase really means and why it is important to your business.

What is employee engagement?

We have discussed issues of trust and motivation in recent articles, but these are only two components of an engaged workforce.

An engaged employee is more than just someone who enjoys coming in to work and doing his or her job. It is someone who cares at a fundamental level about the company through a feeling of emotional investment and common goals. To be engaged, employees need to really believe in the company’s vision, and for that to happen, they must have a clear understanding of what the company is trying to achieve in the short and long term.

As a manager, you need to understand that there are two focuses concerning employee engagement. Not only do they need to feel engaged with the company as a whole, but also with the management. The latter aspect will dictate how employees feel about those who are running the company and directing their everyday activities.

Why is it important?

For some, the basic principle of everyone being in the same boat and working towards common goals is reason enough to want an engaged workforce, but there are more tangible reasons too. When employees are engaged, the atmosphere in the workplace becomes more vibrant and positive, employee actions become more reliable and teamwork is far more likely to lead to successful outcomes with less in-fighting or disputes.

A whole host of studies have examined the benefits of employee engagement, and have found that it can bring benefits that go far beyond increased productivity, a better working environment and reduced staff turnover. Here are a few examples:

  • A survey by Towers Watson in 2009 revealed that companies with higher employee engagement realised a 9% higher shareholder return.
  • A Gallup poll in 2011 showed that those who are more engaged are absent an average of 3.5 fewer days per year than those who are not.
  • The Conference Board study in 2006 concluded that engaged employees outperform disengaged by some 28%.
  • A paper by researcher James Hartner revealed that businesses with better engaged employees have a productivity rate that is more than 50% higher..

Who’s engaged?

So, what does an engaged employee look like? Those who have higher levels of engagement will feel they are provided with direction and guidance on the work they are doing, along with feedback on how well they are doing it. There is typically mutual respect with management, which adds to the sense of being a valued part — not only of the company, but of what it is seeking to achieve.

Now that we have established why it matters, next time, we will look at some tips for achieving better employee engagement in your business.

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