Defining Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work. Put simply, when employees make extra efforts on their own to better the organization because they care and not just because they’re getting paid. Engaged employees recognize their value and understand the goals of the company, how their individual actions can help achieve those goals and then act upon that knowledge. They are team players who take pride and accountability for their work.
Engagement can come from a lot of different aspects of the business. Whether it’s the construction worker who corrects a fellow employee who is not wearing proper fall protection or the retail worker who cleans up after hours even when the boss isn’t watching. Employees who are engaged take pride in their work and it’s important that management encourages these actions.
Benefits of Engaging Employees
Engaged employees lead to better business outcomes. In fact, according to Towers Perrin research, companies with engaged workers have 6% higher net profit margins, and according to Kenexa research, engaged companies have five times higher shareholder returns over five years. Companies with higher levels of employee engagement experience half the amount of safety incidents as the rest of their industry.
Steps to Engage Employees
There are many ways to engage your employees, or at least to get the ball rolling. You don’t need to mount expensive roll-out campaigns, however you do have to clearly communicate your expectations and why engaged behavior is important to customers, fellow workers and, ultimately, the company. Then you have to lead by example. A regular pattern of small actions consistently repeated can be a powerful guide for most of us.
Creating easy channels of communication between management and frontline workers is a great start. More importantly, making sure that management is following through and showing the employees that their voices are being heard. Employees won’t believe that they have an impact on their workplace if they don’t receive feedback and don’t see any changes occur. For more tips, check out our previous blog on improving engagement.