Why employee engagement matters
Employee engagement: it’s a buzzword we hear often. We’re constantly told how important it is and how much we need to improve it, but while there are many avenues to go down to help improve our workplace environment, focusing on those that are proven to work is essential. A recent Gallup poll showed that 70% of employees are disengaged at work. And according to the data, a lack of employee engagement can make a negative impact on the bottom line. The top 25% of employees in the country have fewer accidents, fewer quality defects and incur fewer healthcare costs than their counterparts at the bottom of the engagement scale.
Meanwhile, employees that are considered engaged tend to be the ones who come up with the most innovative ideas, create the most customers and have the most entrepreneurial energy. The takeaway? You can’t afford NOT to engage your employees. Here are a few proven ideas for improving employee engagement.
1. Hire the right people
People engage other people, according to the Gallup study, so making the right recruitment choices can trickle down to engagement across the organization. Carefully planning hiring and recruitment to foster your goals for the organization’s mission and environment will help to foster engagement across the board.
2. Focus on managers
Research has shown that managers are primarily responsible for employee engagement, so it’s important to formulate the right teams, coach managers to engage their reports and to hold them accountable for engagement metrics. One other element that the Gallup study found important was employees finding and utilizing their strengths; a good manager can help to meet this objective.
3. Help employees find meaning in their work
In their research for The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer found that communicating the value of the organization’s mission is essential to cultivating more engaged employees. This doesn’t need to be a world-saving plan, but rather a way of helping everyone within the company understand what they’re working for and driving towards.
4. Improve employees’ wellbeing
Healthy employees are more engaged in their work, the Gallup poll and countless other studies have shown. Engaged employees are more likely to be involved in employer-sponsored wellness programs, eat healthier, eat more produce and exercise more regularly. (Bonus: healthy employees also lead to lower healthcare costs overall.) So consider healthy eating options, fitness programming and other wellness objectives for a double-whammy of healthier and more engaged employees.
5. Encourage time off
Stepping away from work can be refreshing no matter how much you love your job, and a recent Randstad survey on employee engagement showed that vacations are often stressful for employees to take, with many feeling as though their managers discouraged time off and others feeling pressure around the work they’ll return to. Nearly 45% of employees said they don’t feel their boss helps them disconnect during a vacation. But the truth is that employers who proactively encourage employees to take their vacations are more likely to boost morale, reduce turnover and increase productivity, which can lead to more engaged employees.
6. Build friendships
Kramer and Amabile suggest that encouraging inter-office friendship can be a key factor for employee engagement; research has consistently shown that a workplace friendship can convert a moderately engaged employee into a highly-engaged on. There are a variety of ways to achieve this, from post-work happy hours to an office sports team. Friendships also help employees become more collaborative and helpful with one another.