Employee Engagement: What Employers Need to Know

There’s a new business buzzword flying around, and it’s one that employers need to be paying attention to – employee engagement. The topic is quickly becoming a top issue for managers and business leaders, and research supports their concern. Gallup research firm conducted a survey of 1.4 million employees and found that companies with the most engaged participants experienced a significant advantage in several categories. Nearly every measurable aspect of a company is impacted by employee engagement:  turnover, absenteeism, customer metrics, productivity, profitability, etc. But what is an engaged employee anyway? And how do companies encourage this characteristic and maximize their workers’ capabilities?

 First things first – employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. A satisfied employee could be someone who is happy with his or her paycheck but feels apathetic toward the work, never investing more than necessary or seeking to improve. When employees are engaged, they are committed, passionate, and loyal to their organizations. They are willing to put forth more work for the good of the company, going above and beyond their job descriptions.

 Sounds pretty good, right? You’re probably wondering where to find these perfect employees, but employee engagement is actually dependent upon company culture more than anything. It is up to employers and managers to foster employee engagement, and there are a few different ways to do that. First, we must look at the two main driving factors of employee engagement – engagement with the organization and engagement with the manager.

Engagement with the Organization

This factor focuses on whether employees feel connected to the organization’s mission and values. They need to understand where the company is headed and how their work contributes to that. Engagement in this category can be fostered from the very beginning with a solid training and onboarding process. During this time, employees learn how to effectively do their jobs. Without proper training, workers struggle to understand their roles, leading to frustration and lack of confidence (both in themselves and in the company’s ability to teach them).

We know that today’s employees aren’t just looking for a paycheck. They look for a company with purpose and a sense of community, an employer they can feel good about working for. Defining values and goals is a good way to ensure your employees understand what the company works toward. When employees connect to their organization and feel invested in its success, they are engaged.

Engagement with the Manager

This factor deals with how well employees relate to their direct supervisors. You may have heard it said that people don’t quit their jobs – they quit their bosses. There may be some truth to that, especially considering the importance of this category upon employee engagement. Management dependent factors include feeling valued and acknowledged, being treated fairly, receiving feedback, etc.

Employees want to feel heard, understood, and appreciated, and their managers can serve as the source for all of those needs. Managers should motivate and encourage their staff, but they should also clearly define expectations and hold them accountable. Checking in with employees regularly is a good way to foster a strong working relationship. Ask what’s on their minds and how you can help. When employees respect their managers and are actively lead by them, they are engaged.