by Yitzy Tannenbaum
Employee engagement is the new buzz-phrase for organizations. Everybody wants the benefits of employee engagement, but many are going about it the wrong way. By its nature, “engagement” connotes a two-way relationship. The question is what comes first? It’s a bit like the old chicken or egg conundrum. Do we expect employees to engage with the organization or do we expect the organization to engage with employees?
When employee engagement is relegated to the HR department, engagement “activities” often take the form of extra-curricular events such as a company outing, or a departmental “off-site” to engage in team-building exercises. While these activities are indeed engaging, their benefits tend to be fleeting – felt mostly in the moment – because the engagement is outside the experiences related to the everyday tasks and projects that employees must perform.
First and foremost, employees want to know that their job is important and their work is valued by their employer and colleagues. That goes for the welder on the production line, the receptionist at the entrance to the facility, and the plant manager. If the company picnic is simply a respite from work, the positive vibes will not last long once employees return to their everyday routine.
To reap long-lasting benefits (and there are many), employee engagement should be seen as part of the strategic and ongoing purpose of the company.
Make the benefits of Employee Engagement long-lasting
To make the benefits of employee engagement long-lasting, the organization (i.e., management) must actively engage employees at every stage of their employment – from recruiting and onboarding through training, development, and advancement.
By being the first to engage, management encourages employees to respond and engage back – and the cycle of engagement begins.
By initiating open communication and management-employee engagement, organizations can go a long way toward fostering transparency and trust in senior leadership.
By actively communicating company strategy, goals, and a vision of the future, organizations encourage employees to be personally invested in their own success as well as the success of the business.
It’s never too late to start reaping the benefits of Employee Engagement: If your organization hasn’t been engaging employees in this way all along, it’s never too late to start. The benefits of employee engagement will accrue as you hone your engagement strategy.
Give your very next new-hire a proper onboarding. Even if you have to come up with an ad-hoc process that will later become more structured, don’t neglect this critical opportunity to engage. Employees who feel welcome; who know what is expected of them; and who have the tools and support they need to do their job on day one – are 58% more likely to still be with the organization three years later.
Ask them how they’re doing and share feedback. The best way to foster employee engagement is through frequent communication. People naturally want to know how they’re performing and how they can improve. Be sure to acknowledge a job well done and also to offer constructive suggestions to overcome hurdles. Don’t wait for the yearly review. When you communicate often, shortcomings can be nipped in the bud – and employees will become more adept at their tasks and satisfied with their work.
Recognize achievements and efforts. Make formal recognition a part of your company culture. Knowing that their job is important and their work is valued by their employer is the best motivator for employees to do a good job.
Let them grow. Nobody wants to be in a “dead-end” job. Offering personal growth opportunities will keep employees engaged and striving to advance personally and professionally within the organization. Better than letting employees grow is helping them grow. Companies who invest time and money in employee development send a clear message of confidence in the employee and his/her value to the company.
Don’t scrimp on perks and benefits. Keeping a well-stocked fridge and providing healthy meal options may seem like a small thing, but these perks tell employees that they are valued and you want to make the workplace nice for them. Similarly, flexible scheduling that allows employees to maintain the work-life balance they desire is one of the best ways to engage employees in decisions that affect their morale and their ability to perform well.
As employee engagement grows and spreads throughout an organization, compelling benefits begin to accrue.
Top 8 Benefits of Employee Engagement When considering the benefits of employee engagement, the list grows longer all the time. In fact, it appears that employee engagement is truly the key factor influencing employee motivation, productivity, loyalty and satisfaction with the organization.
We’ve identified the following eight important benefits of employee engagement:
1. Higher Employee Satisfaction We ranked “happier employees” as the #1 benefit of employee engagement because statistics show that employees who are engaged at work and satisfied with their position are more likely to produce quality work consistently. Satisfied employees are willing to go the extra mile when needed, and to work hard to overcome obstacles rather than cut corners or give up. Happy employees radiate enthusiasm, which raises the morale of everyone around them. Conversely, dissatisfied employees radiate their unhappiness and can be a negative influence on co-workers.
Gallup’s survey report on the American workplace found that satisfied employees are 40% more productive than dissatisfied employees, and engaged employees are 44% more productive than satisfied employees! Which leads us to benefit #2 – higher productivity.
2. Higher Productivity While it depends how you measure it, engaged employees are much more productive than their unengaged peers. Some say 17% more engaged. Others, like Gallup say 21% more engaged. And then research by Dale Carnegie claims engaged employees outperform their peers by 202%!!
Whichever number you use, the message is clear. Engaged employees tend to work diligently and purposefully, focused on the task at hand. They feel personally responsible for the outcome of their work and will invest discretionary time (i.e., overtime) to make sure the job is done right.
Employees who feel connected know the value of their work and how it affects others in the organization. Therefore, they are less likely to cut corners or to miss deadlines that other people and processes depend on. Engaged employees are open to constructive feedback that will help them work faster and with greater efficiency. Often, they come up with innovative ideas for improving methods, processes and products. All of this leads to increased productivity.
3. Better Quality Products and Service Engaged employees tend to be dedicated, focused on their work, and less likely to make mistakes As a result, organizations with and engaged workforce have significantly fewer quality defects, and far more high-quality outcomes. All of the millions spent on ISO and Quality Assurance programs will have little effect if the workforce is disengaged and feels no personal responsibility or ability to achieve quality outcomes.
This includes customer service, which despite the growth in online shopping and self-service is still a leading influencer on customer satisfaction. Engaged employees who care about their job and know the value of their work are much more likely to care about customers and to provide good service. Consumers who have a good experience with a company are much more likely to spend more money with the company and to recommend your brand to others.
4. Less Absenteeism Unscheduled absenteeism kills your bottom line, with wages paid to absent employees and to their replacements, loss in productivity and many other factors. Statistics show that engaged employees are rarely absent. They come to work on time and work diligently while there.
Engaged employees feel connected to the organization and care about the success of their team. They don’t want to make everyone else’s job harder by not showing up. Employees who are disengaged may not understand how their work affects others in the organization and therefore feel less responsibility to be present. Bottom line – highly engaged workplaces in the USA reduced absenteeism by more than 40%.
5. Higher Employee Retention and Loyalty By engaging employees at every stage of their employment – from recruiting and onboarding through training, development, and advancement – organizations are better able to retain top talent and to reduce turnover rates. A happy employee is not looking to jump ship. A productive team member who sees a path to advancement is not seeking opportunities outside the company.
Engaged employees feel loyal to their team and also to the organization. However recent studies show that younger members of the workforce feel less bound by loyalty. Even though they are not seeking a better opportunity, a full 46% would jump if such an opportunity fell into their lap.
Even so, employee engagement can mitigate this new tendency to churn. Employees who feel connected to the company, care about its success, like their work and are satisfied with their position, will think twice and three time before they consider leaving. Even millennials!
6. Better Employee Safety Instead of being distracted by company gossip or worrying about company politics, engaged employees tend to work in a diligent and focused manner. Engaged employees are at ease in the workplace. They tend to be more familiar with their surroundings and aware of any changes that might have occurred. Not surprisingly, studies show that an engaged workforce has up to 70% fewer accidents and safety incidents. When employees are focused on the task at hand and aware of their environment, they make fewer mistakes and can spot potential accidents before they happen.
7. Higher Sales and Profitability Engaged employees who work hard and efficiently naturally tend to produce high quality work, in less time and with fewer defects. Costs decrease due to efficiencies and better productivity.
Revenues flow in from consumers who are happy with the high quality products and customer service. These satisfied customers buy more and recommend you brand to others who also buy. More revenues flow in. The result is predictable. Profitability increases. Organizations with a highly engaged workforce enjoy 21% higher profitability than industry peers. By fostering engagement, your profitability trajectory can steadily increase.
8. Innovation Engaged employees are eager to contribute to the success of the company. As the ones who are deeply involved in the work, employees often have great ideas on how to improve a product, make a process more efficient, automate, or make the workplace better. Beyond regular channels of communication where employees can share their ideas, many companies are providing an organized forum for these innovative ideas to come to the fore. The “hackathon” has become a popular way for companies to engage employees in out-of-the-box thinking and innovative projects that could be useful to the company. When companies encourages employees to be creative and giving them the autonomy to try out new ideas they not only foster innovation, they nurture employee satisfaction and loyalty.
Does it still matter? When we look at employee engagement through the prism of COVID-19, one of the questions we must ask is whether these benefits of employee engagement still apply. The “rules of engagement,” if you will, have certainly changed. People are working remotely and it appears there is very little impetus to return to the office. Regulations have been enacted that limit the ability of employees to engage and influence one another in the workplace. In fact, through no fault of their own, numerous organizations are trying to maintain that connected feeling and to prevent employee disengagement. While the workforce of the future may operate according to different set of rules, companies still need engaged employees – employees who feel connected to the company, are motivated to work hard, and understand the value of their work to the organization.
Summing up the Benefits of Employee Engagement We’ve outlined eight compelling benefits of employee engagement. If you’re not sure how to proceed or the tools that are available to help you manage and measure employee engagement, contact NICE and let us show you how to get your whole team on board, so you too can enjoy the benefits of employee engagement.
Yitzy Tannenbaum Yitzy Tannenbaum leads marketing for NICE Performance Management. Drawing on his years of experience in the IT and call center sectors, Yitzy is dedicated to ensuring NICE remains the leader in the ever-evolving market of performance management technology. Prior to joining NICE, Yitzy served in various marketing roles at IBM and other leading international technology companies.