Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Hello beautiful humans!
Have you ever tried to research how to keep employees engaged? I came up with 124 million results and the craziest thing is that they are all different. Even the various definitions are enough to keep your head spinning. So what is employee engagement, really?
Employee engagement is the motivation and dedication of employees to want to participate in the functions of their position and company by contributing. You can change the words around and replace motivation with enthusiasm and use other words like moral and satisfaction, but the two words that are the most important... "WANT" and "CONTRIBUTE". Employees are engaged when they "want" to be engaged. They "contribute" when they are allowed to contribute. The point is, if you, as an employer, are not offering employees something they 'want' and allowing them to "contribute" you will be hard pressed to get them engaged let alone keep them engaged in your company.
Why care about employee engagement?
Let me ask you this, why should employees care about your company? If you think it is because you pay them or because they are lucky to have a job with your company, I hate to break the cold, hard truth to you, but every business offers a paycheck. As the old saying goes, 'they were looking for a job when they found yours.' There are opportunities everywhere. Less turnover means less time and money spent in training.
How likely are you to return or refer others to a restaurant where the wait staff is rude, slow, ignores your requests, brings you cold, over or under done food that you had to wait 40 minutes too long for and paid top dollar for portions that would starve a bird? If you're being honest, not very likely. Quality and quantity matter. The better the quality of service and food, the more likely you are to return. The more food you get for the price in a timely manner, the more likely you are to return. Again, quality and quantity matter.
So why care about employee engagement, because happy employees means increased productivity, more attention to quality. Less turnover means better experienced and more dedicated employees. When employees feel appreciated and included, their motivation and attention to detail increases. When they feel included and acknowledged they feel more a part of the company. They begin to take pride in their work and they will 'want' to 'contribute' to the company's success.
Gallup Inc., an analytics company, states that "Only 15% of employees are engaged worldwide, and in the US just 35% of the workforce is engaged -- that is, involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace." Only 15% worldwide! That is 2.7 billion people who could be producing quality work, but aren't! The article goes on to say that "...employee engagement drives business improvement, from lower turnover to higher customer engagement to higher profitability." Below are more benefits they have gleaned from their research.
*Side Note - ABC Supply is the 14 time winner of the Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award (GEWA). Gallup uses employee engagement as a major contributor to recipients of this award.
How to you create employee engagement?
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of opinions on this topic. The truth is that every company and every employee is different. This is where it important for your leadership team to know and understand their team members and direct reports. Natalie Wickham has a great article with some inspirational ideas in Quantum Workplace (cited below), but keep in mind, they are not all of your possibilities.
The best thing to do to increase employee engagement is company engagement. If you want your employees to be engaged then have your company engage the employees. Ask your employees, all of them, what they like and don't like about the company, their position, the management team, training, everyday procedures, products, etc? Ask them what makes them excited, what can be improved, how the company can help them to move forward? What are their passions and motivations, what are the strengths and weaknesses of everyone involved?
If you want your employees to be engaged, then engage with them. Find out what they 'want'! It doesn't mean you will be able to provide or should provide for all of their 'wants', but it gives you a place to start where you can begin to compromise on what needs to change for your company to progress to a stage where your employees 'want' to be there, 'want' to stay and 'want' to 'contribute' to the company's success.
Have a get together with your team/company. Make it a company picnic, a team lunch, holiday party or other event that costs the employee nothing but time. Provide them with a meal and games, music or some other type of entertainment. Hand out awards, even if they are silly awards. Show your employees how much you appreciate them showing up for you 2080+ hrs per year by giving them 4 hrs of your company's time to show up for them.
Morals of the story:
Employee engagement is the motivation and dedication of employees to 'want' to participate in the success of the company.
Employee engagement increases quality and productivity, which promotes company growth and success.
To create employee engagement, engage with your employees.
The Science of Engagment by Bob Lavigna - https://www.td.org/magazines/the-public-manager/the-science-of-engagement#:~:text=Research%20by%20the%20International%20Public,likely%20to%20be%20very%20satisfied.
Jim Harter & Kristi Rebensteing - Gallup - https://www.gallup.com/workplace/290573/engaged-workplaces-world-put-people-first.aspx
Natalie Wickham - Quantum Workplace - https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/employee-engagement-ideas