Employee engagement is the measure of an employee’s commitment to the success of an organization. Engaged employees enthusiastically perform their duties with a resolve to accomplish the goals of the company. Their motivation to work does not stem simply from a paycheck, or upward mobility, but from devotion to the work they are performing.
Engaged employees voluntarily seek to better understand their work. When the task is clear, they make an effort to exceed expectations and improve the company. They often recommend the company to others as a good place to work, and have strong relationships with colleagues.
Employees who know what they are doing, and believe in why they are doing it, are happy while working, and will naturally create an increase in customer wallet share, positive feedback, referrals by customers, and customer loyalty. A statistical theory called the Spillover Effect explains the relationship between employee engagement and a company’s bottom line: when employees are engaged in their work, their positivity affects the effort they put forth in pleasing customers and fulfilling company objectives. This in turn makes customers more satisfied, loyal, and willing to promote the company.
Employees that are disengaged, on the other hand, can cause tremendous damage to the company’s reputation and its bottom line. A recent Gallup study reported that disengaged employees across the US cost the American economy up to $350 billion in lost productivity annually. The study further found that a disengaged employee will cause harm to interactions with one out of every 10 customers, deterring their continued business.
A simple way to measure employees’ enthusiasm about their work and environment is to issue an employee survey. Many employee engagement surveys use Likert-scale questions, which gauge work-related attitudes and opinions, but almost all employee engagement surveys focus around common themes of
- Job satisfaction
- Quality of peer relationships
- Likelihood of changing jobs
- Likelihood of recommending company products or services
- Likelihood of recommending company as a great place to work
- Satisfaction with compensation & benefits
These surveys can confirm current strengths of company management’s dealing with employees as well as generate suggestions for future improvement.
According to the Gallup study mentioned above, managers account for as much as 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores, and about 50% of employees will leave their job at some point in their career in attempt to get away from a manager. If bad managers can affect employee engagement so much, good managers should also be able to positively affect employee engagement in significant ways.
Below are some managerial best practices for encouraging employee engagement:
- Create stability in policy: Principle-driven management, rather than regulation-restrictive management, provides employees with a sense of consistency and freedom. This allows employees to buy in to the company culture of good habits themselves without feeling forced.
- Clarify Expectations: Employees need to know the ultimate vision and goals of their departments and companies in order to be effective in their own niche in the overall process.
- Encourage Teamwork: People who work together get time to know each other, and build relationships that develop into friendships. This feeling of camaraderie contributes to employees’ loyalty to their colleagues and the company.
- Express Appreciation: Management should dedicate extra effort to acknowledging the good done by each employee and make employees aware that they’re noticed and appreciated.