Employee engagement is the emotional connection workers feel to their company, job, and role. Workers who are engaged have positive feelings about their work, are highly motivated to complete tasks, and feel loyal and connected to their organization and work.

Employee engagement and satisfaction and happiness are often viewed as synonymous, though they mean slightly different things. Engagement refers to the interest in and dedication to the job that an employee has. While employee satisfaction might relate to an employee’s view of their paycheck and work-life balance, engagement reflects how much employees care about their organization and how much of a positive contribution they feel they are making.

Why Is Employee Engagement Important?

Disengaged workers can cost US companies up to $550 billion a year. In addition to avoiding these financial costs, there are other reasons organizations may want to keep workers committed to and interested in work:

  • It improves performance: Companies with high employee engagement have 22% higher productivity and 20% higher sales than their less-engaging counterparts. Companies with engaged workforces also outperform their competitors in earnings per share by 147%.
  • It reduces absenteeism and turnover: In one study, when companies improved their inclusion practices, engagement was 8.4 times higher, and employees were five times as likely to remain at the company. Highly engaged companies also had absenteeism rates drop by 41%.
  • It helps build your workplace culture: When workers are committed, they may be more willing to contribute to your culture. They are interested in and excited to work; this enthusiasm can help build a positive culture.

How Can You Measure Employee Engagement?

Turnover rates, absenteeism, and presenteeism can indicate your employees’ engagement. If you have high turnover rates (especially if that is not typical in your industry) and workers don’t show up for shifts, team members may not feel very connected to their work or your company. If workers are showing up but are putting in minimal effort and productivity because they are burned out, unwell, or simply uninterested, this is known as presenteeism. You may also see presenteeism at work if you ask for volunteers for a project and don’t get any (or many) interested workers.

Ultimately, asking is the best way to determine if your team is engaged. You can hold one-on-one discussions between workers and management to learn more about how workers feel. An anonymous employee engagement survey can be even more effective, as workers may feel that they can be more transparent about any issues they are seeing. You can conduct these surveys—asking how engaged workers feel they are and how likely they are to recommend their workplace to others—every few months to track changes in engagement over time.

It can be essential to measure engagement if your organization has deskless, remote, contract, or hybrid workers who are in the field or away from a centralized location either part of or all the time. In these organizational structures, since leadership cannot observe workers face to face, they may need to work harder to make sure workers are committed to and interested in the company.

How Can You Improve Employee Engagement at Your Organization?

If you have measured employee engagement and discovered room for improvement, you’re not alone. In early 2022, only 32% of the US workforce was engaged at work. However, there are several things you can do:

  • Allow for more direct communication, especially with leadership: When you allow team members to engage with leadership, it shows that you trust employees and value their ideas and opinions. To make communication seamless, you can use Connecteam to let teams chat with leadership securely, without anyone ever having to share their personal contact information.
  • Define and share a compelling company purpose: Craft (and share) a strong company purpose statement to get workers excited about making a difference. Powerful company purposes go beyond a company product or service and explain what a company is doing for its community or the world. This can help employees understand how their role makes a bigger difference.
  • Train leadership and management: It’s often been said that employees don’t leave bad jobs so much as they leave bad managers and employers. Leaders and managers can be taught to build strong connections with team members, spot and address lagging engagement early, and create a great place to work.
  • Communicate company plans: Workers are more likely to feel like part of the team if major news is shared internally first, and research has shown that workers who feel included in this way are twice as likely to report feeling engaged. Be transparent about how changes may affect workers’ roles and their position in the company, so each employee can see how they contribute to the larger whole.  
  • Recognize highly engaged and productive workers: When you praise and reward employees who go above and beyond, you show that you value high engagement at your organization. In addition, recognized workers are more likely to feel connected to their workplace because they have tangible proof of leaders and managers seeing and appreciating their efforts.
  • Offer competitive pay and benefits: Good pay and benefits are another way to show employees that you value them, which can help them feel like contributing more at work. These also reduce the financial pressure on workers, allowing them to be fully present at—and interested in—work.
  • Give employees a chance to develop and grow: When you invest in team members with training, coaching, mentorships, and other opportunities for professional and personal development, you’re showing loyalty and commitment to your team. This makes it easier for team members to show commitment to your organization. Workers can also feel more fulfilled and engaged if they feel they are growing.
  • Offer some ownership: Owner engagement is usually built-in because business owners are deeply invested in the company they have created. Your workers can benefit from this mentality if you offer them a share of the profits, provide them with more autonomy over their work tasks, or offer some other type of investment in their role.
  • Give employees the tools they need to work efficiently: Employees may feel more engaged if they can get into a state of flow at work, where they can focus on tasks for longer periods. This is easier if workers have the necessary tools and few interruptions. One way to create this kind of workplace is with the Connecteam app, which lets your workers have all the task checklists, schedules, training, and work documents they need on demand and on one platform on their mobile device.
  • Work on building your workplace culture: Once you have made work efficient and are offering good pay, recognition, and benefits, you want to offer something that workers can be emotionally connected to. Positive work cultures provide employees with a sense of community, the freedom to show up as themselves at work, and a good work-life balance.
  • Make a contribution: Employee engagement is about more than just a payday. You can show that you understand this by giving back to the community and illustrating to employees that your business cares about the world around you.
  • Encourage healthy work-life balance: Wellness programs, time off, reasonable work deadlines, and no work expected on holidays, weekends, or evenings allows workers to spend time with family and care for their well-being. This can help prevent burnout and shows you care about your team as people, which in turn can create stronger loyalty to your organization.

Engage a Stronger Workforce

Loyalty and dedication to your workplace are possible. By investing in employees first, your team members will appreciate and value your organization and the work you offer. In turn, workers will feel more connected to and engaged with the work they do for you.

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