Employee Engagement: What Is It & How Can You Improve It?

coworkers speaking about employee engagement

Employee engagement is critical to business success. There is a massive difference between working in an organization where employees are actively engaged at work, or one where they are just serving their time and waiting until the day is over so they can go back to their real lives.

In this blog post we reveal 12 elements of employee engagement, why it matters, how to measure it and, most importantly, how to boost employee engagement and motivation.

How engaged are your employees? Download our employee survey template to find out today.

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is the measure of whether an employee is excited, motivated, or interested in their work. Basically, it is an indication of whether or not they are putting “their all” into what they do. It can be determined or influenced by their role, responsibilities, environment, or corporate culture.

Why Does Employee Engagement Matter?

Simply put, because there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and business success!

Back in 2017, research by Gallup revealed that highly engaged teams can generate a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales. And, while businesses clearly do better if employees are engaged, the benefits extend directly to people, their lives, and their happiness, too. 

Download Now: Where Does Your Company Culture Stand?

Have you been interested in working toward a more concrete understanding of your corporate culture? Download our guide today to get started, and to begin building the organizational culture of your dreams.

What Are The Benefits Of Employee Engagement?

The benefits of employee engagement are far-reaching. Recent research by Gallup, which analyzed more than 2.7 million employees in 96 countries, concluded that companies with the most engaged employees significantly outperformed the companies who were lacking in this area.

Best-practice companies had:

  • 81% lower absenteeism
  • between 18 and 43% lower employee turnover
  • 28% less shrinkage (theft)
  • 10% higher customer loyalty and engagement
  • 18% higher sales productivity and a massive
  • 23% higher profitability!

From a business perspective, high employee engagement is a must-have. The research above shows that happy employees stay with the company.

Indeed, as we say in our HR Lexicon article: Employee Retention Strategies: 2 Key Strategies to Retain Top Talent, “employee retention strategies can also be considered a basis for employee engagement. They not only prevent wear-and-tear on the staff – but lay the groundwork for growth and success that would otherwise not be possible.”

How Do You Measure Employee Engagement?

But measuring employee engagement isn’t always easy. While many companies use employee engagement surveys, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to testing and, more importantly, being certain that employees are actually enthusiastic about their jobs.

However, experts agree that the most important elements of measuring employee engagement include:

  • Communication and employee listening
  • Providing feedback 
  • Setting, agreeing on, and keeping goals in focus.

For example, in our HR expert interview with Nick Matthews, VP and GM of Culture Amp, on how to measure and improve employee performance and engagement in tough times, he revealed that during the height of COVID-19, companies who genuinely cared about their employee engagement metrics were getting feedback often, listening to it, and implementing actions relating to the feedback at an unprecedented rate.

He said, “Previously organizations would often do a big engagement survey once or twice a year and shorter, pulse, surveys every other quarter. Now they’re doing weekly, fortnightly and monthly surveys to understand the changing context and how it’s impacting employees.”

How Should You Track and Record Employee Engagement?

So, if keeping employees engaged (and happy) is important to business continuity and success, how do organizations make sure they are recording, tracking, and analyzing their employees’ feedback. And, more importantly, how do they know that employees aren’t just telling them what they want to hear?

The answer may lie in providing employee surveys that are anonymous, distributed regularly, and acted upon!

At Personio we have created a helpful employee survey template that you can use to get started if you don’t already have an employee engagement strategy in place yet.

Employee Experience & Talent Management Strategies

As Mercer says in their 2019 report on building a better employee experience, “Employee experience is more than the latest HR catchphrase. It’s a mindset shift.”

8 Effective Talent Management Practices

When HR is approached from a strategic perspective, it’s possible to leverage the eight effective talent management practices we list below. 

These include:

  • Employer branding
  • The candidate experience
  • Referral programs
  • Onboard
  • Employee engagement
  • Employee development
  • Performance management
  • Succession planning.

By creating a business environment in which your entire workforce can reach its potential, it’s possible to develop a corporate culture of excellence organically and meaningfully.

You can read more about these practices in our HR Lexicon article on talent management.

Learn More: Performance With Personio

Are you ensuring that your employees are developing at the right rate and in the right ways? Discover how Personio can offer better feedback for better performance today.

How Do You Increase Employee Engagement?

Unfortunately, in some workplace cultures, employees aren’t necessarily happy or engaged. This can also ebb and flow over time. The good news is that helping employees get or stay 100% engaged isn’t too hard.

12 Ways to Motivate Employees

In our blog post which answers the question, “How do you boost employee motivation?” we suggest 12 ways to motivate employees.

These include:

  • Praising employees
  • Providing clear and open communication
  • Giving employees responsibility and trusting them
  • Providing the opportunity to produce meaningful work
  • Leading by example
  • Setting valuable (and personal) goals
  • Embracing a positive error culture
  • Providing a fair salary
  • Celebrating success
  • Providing flexible working hours
  • Promoting employee development
  • Providing sponsored perks like food, drink, and exercise programs to enhance wellbeing.

Using People Management Principles to Improve Employee Engagement

Knowing how to get the most out of your people often comes down to using people management principles in the right way. As we say in our blog post entitled How Can People Management Principles Get the Best out of Your Workforce?

“When you understand why people work (it’s far broader than simply earning a salary), how you can help them do their best work and what happens when things go wrong good people management allows anyone to get the best out of their people. In fact, that’s the key difference between functioning and thriving organizations…”

10 Management Skills to Help Engage Employees

Remember: The happiness and productivity of an employee can often be directly impacted by the relationship they have with their manager.

That’s why these 10 people management skills are worth paying attention to.

We summarize them below, but take a look at our blog post on 10 People Management Skills That Lead to Organizational Success to read these in more detail.

The 10 skills are:

  • Operating with a clear vision
  • Communicating effectively
  • Trusting and being trustworthy
  • Showcasing empathy
  • Connecting and being approachable
  • Being decisive
  • Being able to motivate your employees
  • Demonstrating accountability
  • Supporting problem-solving, and
  • Enabling professional growth

Is Feedback Important For Employee Engagement?

However, even the best manager can struggle to improve employee engagement when someone has an underlying attitude or challenge with work that is causing problems.

That’s when it’s useful to provide constructive feedback.

Feedback can go both ways. Employees can give it, as well as receive it. But feedback can be hard to hear if it’s not given in the right way.

That’s why we recommend these 10 guidelines for giving meaningful and constructive feedback. You can read more about this in our article that answers the question, how can constructive feedback boost employee motivation?

10 Guidelines for Giving Meaningful and Constructive Feedback

  • Focus on the desired outcomes you want to achieve
  • Share feedback based on observation, not opinion
  • Be highly specific and provide examples
  • Be direct
  • Don’t say, “You need to…”
  • Focus on the present, then the past, then the future
  • Celebrate moments of mastery
  • Give feedback as soon as possible
  • Try to give feedback face to face
  • Take diligent notes

Lastly, while it’s really important to take notes about what was said during feedback meetings – that’s not enough!

Going one step further and actually documenting the feedback given, then making this part of a continuous cycle that can help improve performance will also lend itself towards improved employee engagement, too.

That’s where Personio can help. We have an employee feedback solution that specifically helps HR leaders in organizations of all sizes collect feedback, schedule feedback meetings, and provide next-level documentation for continuous improvement.

12 Key Ways To Improve Employee Engagement

Lastly, and possibly more importantly, we’ll leave you with these 12 elements of employee engagement that Gallup has identified.

When managers fully integrate the concepts behind these seemingly simplistic factors into everything from casual conversations, to meeting agendas, and even formal performance valuations, it can improve employee retention, productivity, safety, sales, and revenue. 

The 12 Elements of Employee Engagement

  • Employees know what’s expected of them at work.
  • Employees have the materials, and equipment they need to do their work right.
  • At work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best, every day.
  • They receive regular recognition, or praise for doing good work (at least once a week).
  • Employees can honestly say that their manager, supervisor, or someone at work seems to care about them as a person.
  • Someone at work encourages the employee’s development.
  • They feel like their opinions at work seem to matter.
  • They feel like their job is important because the company’s mission, or purpose supports what they do.
  • They know their fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  • They have a best friend at work.
  • They get regular feedback about their progress (at least every six months)
  • They have opportunities to learn, and grow at work (at least once a year).

We think it’s worth making sure that, even if your organization isn’t currently able to help employees feel completely engaged, you are working towards addressing these elements.

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