What exactly do people mean when they talk about employee engagement? And are engaged employees better employees? We explore the meaning behind the buzzwords.
What does employee engagement actually mean?
Employee engagement can be broadly defined as staff being genuinely invested in an organization and motivated by their work for it.
Workplace experts have framed this in different ways. According to Kingston Business School, employee engagement is a mix of intellectual, affective and social engagement – thinking about the job, feeling good about it, and taking opportunities to discuss it with other people at work.
How does staff engagement help businesses?
Whatever definition you want to go with, employee engagement is much more than just a nice-to-have for organizations.
Highly engaged businesses see a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales, according to Officevibe, while 80% of employees would work more hours for a more empathetic employer.
And staff engagement can have a huge effect on profit, customer loyalty, productivity, absences, staff turnover, staff wellness – in fact, almost every business area you can think of.
Why does employee engagement make such a difference?
It’s mainly because engaged employees make more of what’s called ‘discretionary effort’. This means people putting in effort that goes beyond what’s needed to carry out their tasks. And the theory is, the more engaged people are, the more discretionary effort they’ll make. This isn’t necessarily about people putting in more hours of work, but rather about working in a more impactful way.
So, are happy employees engaged employees?
Employee engagement is about a lot more than employee happiness or satisfaction. As the CIPD points out, satisfied employees may not necessarily make much of a contribution to an organization. Similarly, a happy employee may not be working particularly hard. And even if employees genuinely care about an organization and are committed to it, unless they’re engaged with its aims and processes they may not be contributing in the right way.
True staff engagement means employees having a real connection with the organization they work for, a genuine understanding of what they need to do, and a desire to do it. And for this, real collaboration is necessary.
How do I ensure employee engagement in my organization?
Every organization is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all path to engagement. But teamwork, collaboration, and open communication are always key.
Keeping people genuinely engaged isn’t easy: 44% of HR managers see employee engagement as their biggest hurdle for 2018 according to a survey by Cascade HR. And only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged, according to the aforementioned Officevibe research.
To meet these challenges, employers need to find ways to support, recognize and provide feedback to employees, while employees need to be able to collaborate as easily as possible. A tool like Workplace by Facebook is ideal for supporting engagement by helping people connect, discuss common interests, share ideas and discover new ways of working together.