Employee engagement is a critical component of the success of any organization. Study after study have shown that engaged employees are more productive, more innovative, and happier in their work.
They are also more likely to stick around, reducing costly employee turnover rates.
Unfortunately, it's estimated that only 35% of US employees are engaged in their workplace.
So, if you don't have employee engagement goals and strategies in place already, now is the time to start focusing on improving employee engagement in your organization.
In this article, we'll discuss how to improve employee engagement within your company using these strategies.
We'll cover everything from recognition to training programs and everything in between.
What is Employee Engagement?
Before diving into improving employee engagement, it's important first to understand what employee engagement is.
Employee engagement is the level of enthusiasm and commitment an employee has towards their work and company.
While enthusiasm may sound not particularly critical to an organization, 92% of business executives believe that when employees are engaged, they truly care about their work and want to do their best.
Employee engagement is what gives people a sense of ownership over their work and creates pride in their accomplishments. - and that is critical.
Why is Learning How to Improve Employee Engagement Important?
Employee engagement is important because it directly impacts an organization's bottom line.
When employees are engaged, they are more likely to be productive and produce high-quality work.
They are also less likely to leave the company, saving organizations money in turnover costs.
There are a number of factors that contribute to employee engagement.
These include things like feeling valued and appreciated by the company, having a good relationship with their direct supervisor, and feeling like they are part of a team.
When these factors are present, employees are more likely to be engaged in their work.
In addition, engaged employees are more likely to be positive ambassadors for their company.
These employees are more likely to tell their friends and family about their positive experiences with your company, and they are more likely to recommend your products or services to others.
This type of word-of-mouth support can be one of the most effective ways to attract new customers and grow your business, as well.
Benefits of Having Engaged Employees
It's one thing to understand in theory that engaged employees are good for business. But countless studies have found just how beneficial they are.
Employee Engagement Stats
Increased Productivity: Employees who are engaged tend to be more productive.
According to a Gallup study, highly engaged teams show a 17% increase in productivity.
Higher Profitability: Companies with engaged employees are more profitable.
Research by Gallup found that organizations with higher employee engagement workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.
Better Employee Retention: A report by the Corporate Leadership Council showed that engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their organizations than disengaged ones.
Improved Customer Satisfaction: Employees are more likely to provide excellent customer service when they're engaged.
A study by Temkin Group found that companies with highly engaged employees have customer retention rates 2.5 times higher than those with low employee engagement.
Innovation and Creativity: Employee engagement is positively linked with innovation.
According to a study by Aon Hewitt, organizations with high engagement scores are 50% more likely to have employees who innovate regularly.
Healthier Work Environment: Employee engagement is linked to a healthier workplace.
A Gallup study found that highly engaged workplaces saw 41% lower absenteeism.
Better Safety Records: Employees who are engaged tend to be more conscious of safety measures.
According to research by Gallup, organizations with highly engaged employees experience 70% fewer safety incidents.
Enhanced Employee Well-Being: Employees who are engaged report higher levels of overall well-being, including physical and mental health.
They are also more likely to adopt healthier lifestyle behaviors.
Positive Impact on Stock Price: Companies with high employee engagement scores tend to have higher stock prices.
A study by Alex Edmans found that organizations with high levels of employee satisfaction outperform their peers in the stock market.
Competitive Advantage: Employee engagement can provide a competitive advantage.
Organizations with engaged workforces are better positioned to attract top talent and maintain a positive brand image.
Customer Loyalty: Companies with engaged employees experience a 12% increase in customer loyalty, according to a study by the Temkin Group.
Employee Advocacy: Engaged employees are more likely to promote their organization as a great place to work.
They become brand advocates, helping with recruitment efforts.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
There are many things you can do to enable employees to improve employee engagement within your organization.
Here are a few ways to get started building an employee engagement strategy.
Create a Thoughtful Onboarding Process
The onboarding process for new hires is the first opportunity you have to make a good impression on your new employees and set the tone for their time at your company.
A well-designed onboarding program will help new employees adjust to their new roles, feel welcomed and valued by the company, and better understand your company's culture and values.
It will also help them build relationships with their co-workers and feel like part of the team from day one.
There are several things you can do to create a thoughtful onboarding process.
- Clearly communicate your company's culture and values to new employees.
- Provide new employees with a mentor or buddy to help them adjust to their new role and answer any questions they may have.
- Give new employees time to get to know their co-workers and build relationships. This can be done through team-building activities, social events, or simply by encouraging them to interact with their co-workers during breaks and lunch.
Encourage Open Communication
Open communication is essential to improve employee engagement.
Employees need to feel like they can communicate openly with their supervisors and other members of management.
They should feel like their voices are being heard and that their input is valued.
There are several ways you can encourage open communication within your organization:
- Make sure employees know who to go to with questions or concerns.
- Encourage employees to share their ideas and feedback, and let them know their input is valued.
- Ensure employees feel like they can openly express themselves without fear of retribution.
Create a Recognition Program
Recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work and accomplishments is a great way to improve employee engagement.
When employees feel like their work is appreciated, they are more likely to be engaged employees and motivated to do their best.
In fact, when employees believe they’ll be recognized for their work, they’re nearly 3 times more likely to be highly engaged, according to a study by Quantum Workplace.
Another study found that the single most important driver for employees to do “great work” is employee recognition.
You can recognize and reward employees by:
- Publicly recognizing employees for their accomplishments during team meetings or company-wide events.
- Recognizing employees either publicly or privately through a social recognition platform.
- Give employees personalized thank-you notes or emails.
- Offer employees rewards or bonuses for meeting specific goals.
- Encourage peer-to-peer recognition.
In a 2021 survey by the APA, 79% of respondents had experienced work-related stress in the previous month and 32% reported emotional exhaustion. 32% of employees have taken a sick day due to stress.
And barely half (51%) of employees believe that their workplace supports mental health.
All this to say, employees have been struggling and it's not a problem that will disappear on its own.
While it may not be an employers' responsibility to manage their employees mental health, employers can put practices in place to help support it.
Wellness activities are a great way to not only improve individual employee wellbeing, but company culture and employee engagement as well.
Employee wellness programs help establish a sense of belonging and togetherness, which can improve engagement and lead to higher productivity.
Furthermore, at companies that support wellbeing initiatives, 89% of employees are more likely to recommend the business as a good place to work.
Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development
Employees who feel like they are stuck in a dead-end job are less likely to be engaged in their work.
Providing employees with opportunities for growth and development is a great way to both motivate employees and keep them engaged and motivated.
Companies with a culture of growth also tend to attract and retain high-performing employees who develop stronger relationships with the company.
This is especially true for younger employees.
According to a LinkedIn study, 40% of young workers said they were willing to accept a 5% pay cut to work in a position that offered career growth opportunities.
Additionally, 76% of Gen Zers want more opportunities to move up or increase responsibilities at work.
So, help engage employees by offering growth and professional development opportunities. These can include:
- Meeting with employees to plan a career growth plan/map.
- Encouraging employees to take on new responsibilities and challenge themselves.
- Invest in employee training and development programs.
- Provide employees with opportunities to attend industry events or conferences.
Ask for Employee Feedback
Employee listening and feedback tools help companies collect anonymous, real-time insights from your staff.
You can poll them as often as you want and create a work culture of transparency and accountability with open communication.
Here are a few examples of things you could learn with employee feedback tools:
- Discover if managers are under (or over) performing
- Learn how the morale at the business is doing
- Find out which benefits your employees want
- See if diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training is working
- Uncover if there are any issues, discrimination, or unconscious bias
- Learn if employees are engaged with their work
Discovering this information proactively gives managers the chance to address problems and improve the employee experience and engagement for the whole team.
Ask for employee feedback by:
- Conducting regular employee engagement surveys or check-ins with employees
- Encouraging employees to provide feedback during team meetings or one-on-one conversations.
- Asking employees for their input on company decisions or changes.
Conduct Stay Interviews to Prevent Exit Interviews
Ideally, companies try to avoid having to conduct an exit interview. Exit interviews mean voluntary turnover, disruption, and money lost. In order to help prevent exit interviews, try conducting stay interviews instead.
Stay interviews are meetings that occur between manager and employee with the intention of gaining an understanding of why the employee continues to stay with the company.
Typically, these meetings take place with high-performing employees, whose skill set is valuable to the company.
Use these interviews to ask valuable questions like:
- What do you look forward to most coming to work each day?
- Is there anything you dread about your job? If so, what?
- When was the last time you thought about leaving the company?
- What would make your job more satisfying?
- How would you describe our company culture in 3 words?
- Do you feel you’re adequately recognized for your efforts?
Learning what is working for your top-performing employees can help boost employee engagement throughout the company.
Flexible Work Arrangements
By now, most organizations have found the value in remote or hybrid working arrangements.
In fact, a report by Zippia published in 2023 found that 74% of U.S. companies are using or plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model.
But flexibility at work doesn't only mean being able to work from home.
It could be letting employees start work later in the morning and finish later in the evening. It can be embracing mistakes as a learning opportunity when they inevitably happen. It can be having a 4-day work week.
But at the root of a flexible workplace is trust. Flexibility at work embraces the idea that employees can be productive no matter when or where they perform their work.
Rather than enforcing a rigid workplace environment or schedule, workplace flexibility puts trust in the employee and empowers them to do their work in a way that’s best for them.
This helps engage employees in their work because they're able to work in a way that works for them.
In many overworked, toxic culture environments, employees feel the need to prove their work.
They may feel the need to partake in performative acts, like telling coworkers how late they worked or how little they slept.
A flexible workplace that’s based on employee trust is the antidote to the pressure of a toxic company culture.
Create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
Employee Resource Groups are voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve.
Employee resource groups can be incredible micro-communities within your business, especially for minority groups and those that might not feel represented.
There is strength in numbers, and ERGs can help your employees feel recognized and seen.
It also gives employees an opportunity to voice thoughts and concerns collectively with like-minded individuals, helping to improve communication and feedback throughout the organization.
The leaders of the ERGs can take this feedback and transmit it more cohesively to your leadership teams.
Remember, ERGs aren't just about the things we typically see.
While you can undoubtedly form ERGs for certain ethnicities, genders, and age groups, you could even create them for religious associations or hobbies—such as coding, painting, or music.
These groups are a great way to help provide employees with a sense of belonging and inclusion, which can in turn increase employee engagement.
Track Important Employee Engagement Metrics
As with most initiatives, improving employee engagement requires accurate benchmarking to ensure success.
Utilizing employee survey tools are a common way for measuring employee engagement.
This is because surveys, when done correctly, are easy to use and can turn qualitative data into trackable, quantitative data.
Just be sure to ask questions that track the most important metrics to improve employee engagement.
These areas often include:
- Job satisfaction
- Career development
- Interpersonal relationships
Then, be sure to act on the feedback you receive. Without action, you'll risk survey fatigue and low response rates.
Choosing to improve employee engagement is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, it requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses leadership practices, workplace culture, career development, rewards, engagement activities, and feedback mechanisms.
Organizations that prioritize employee engagement are more likely to achieve higher productivity, lower turnover rates, and overall better performance.
By implementing an employee engagement strategy, organizations can cultivate a workplace culture where employees are motivated, committed, and passionate about contributing to the company's success.
Remember, choosing to increase employee engagement at your company is an ongoing journey, and consistent efforts are essential to sustain and continuously improve it.
Getting Started with Terryberry
Learning how to improve employee engagement can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be.
By implementing some simple strategies, you can greatly improve employee engagement and morale.
Try out some of the strategies listed above and see how they work for you.
With a little effort, you can create a more productive and engaged workforce.
Interested in learning more about how your company can benefit from a recognition program?