Why Employee Engagement is Such a Big Deal and How Managers Can Improve It
Content Marketing Specialist
Jul 10, 2019
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Employee engagement is taking center stage in business these days for good reason: The fallout caused by disengaged employees is proving painful. How much pain are we talking about? Studies reveal that 70% of workers today are disengaged and it's costing U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year.*Employee engagement is important because profitability depends on people — more specifically — people who stay and are excited and aligned with a company's purpose and goals. Business leader Doug Conant distilled the power of employee engagement when he said: "To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace."
Because technology has transformed our work life to be more flexible, and an exceptionally strong economy has given workers plenty of job options, employee engagement has been elevated from a business goal to a business driver. This means one of the most pressing tasks of HR leaders and managers today is figuring out how to chuck traditional engagement building programs and shift to a mindset of employee engagement that transforms company culture.
21% higher profitability
41% reduction in absenteeism
59% less turnover
Improving employee engagement doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to create a big program or install a food court or bowling alley to get people engaged. There are some practical ways to start shifting your mindset today that will also move the engagement needle.
Share your company’s vision and goals.
People need to know their work matters. Give people a sense of purpose by sharing the vision and goals of the company but — more specifically — share how their job is important to achieving those goals. Employees can tell if an organization is transparent and inclusive or protective and exclusive, and that perception will influence their loyalty.
Look closer at bottlenecks and disconnects.
Stop, look, and listen. If people are frustrated, missing deadlines, and making errors, there’s a breakdown somewhere. Is more training needed in a specific area? Have expectations been clearly communicated? Is a Change Enablement strategy needed to help people adapt to technology changes that may have overwhelmed some people?
Connect wellness + work.
Taking the time to implement and support a company wide wellness program may seem like a frivolous, impractical endeavor when your to-do list is a mile long, but studies show it’s a huge engagement move. A Glassdoor survey reveals that 87% of employees expect their employer to support them in balancing work and personal commitments. An Aflac study reinforces this in that Millennial's — more than any other group — factor in health benefits and wellness programs when choosing to take or remain in a job.
According to Improvizations Managing Director, Bryan deSilva, engagement and wellness are inseparable elements of a healthy work culture.
“When people are healthy, that shows up a lot of different ways. Stress goes down, productivity and morale go up, culture is strengthened, and people are just happier and what manager doesn't want that?” says deSilva, who launched a successful exercise and nutrition program this year for Improv’s remote team. "If people aren’t healthy and happy at work then business goals don’t matter much."
Manager feedback and recognition.
In deconstructing what motivates and sustains engaged, purpose-driven employees, studies repeatedly show that managers are the engines that can either power up or deflate employee engagement. What are employees today seeking in a manager? Respect, encouragement, opportunity for advancement, and recognition for a job well done. On the flip side: managers should not feel pressure to falsely praise an employee or hold back on constructive feedback designed to grow an employee’s skill set.
Call it what you’d like — the gig economy, remote workforce, or flex working — technology has revolutionized the way we work and our expectations of how we work. Millennial workers especially are choosing to work smarter not harder and prioritizing work-life balance. When people are free to work where and how they prefer, they feel trusted and respected. They return that trust by staying with a company and contributing to its success (engagement).
Live your core values.
Creating a core set of values and living by them in business is critical to building employee engagement. Companies that measure success by what gets done as well as how it gets done, communicate genuine commitment to employees and will even attract new people who align with those values.
Offer ESS tools.
Employee Self-Service tools (ESS) in the workplace are critical to engagement. As much as possible, provide employees with easy, fast, collaboration tools that allow them to oversee their own progress on goals, pay rates, schedules, vacation time, benefits, and other key details. Cutting-edge workforce management platforms — such as Kronos, Ceridian, and Workday — do their part to help companies boost engagement by designing mobile technologies employees can access from all types of interfaces.
Coaching, mentoring, and skills growth.
This is an important tool but one that often falls by the wayside because of time constraints. When a manager offers additional time to train, coach, and set ongoing performance goals, he or she can instantly amplify employee engagement and retention.
Communicating well and continuously is one of the least expensive, most powerful ways to build an engaged workforce and maintain a healthy, enthusiastic culture. Technology has bulldozed the relevance of annual or even monthly reviews. Today timely, honest, instant communication and transparency between managers and employees is a daily expectation.
The power of saying "Thank You" has been diluted in our digital world. A quick post, comment, or email does not carry the impact of a written note or a manager's verbal acknowledgement in front of peers. The simple act of saying thank you to people can have a ripple effect on morale, engagement, productivity, and retention.
Building a team of engaged employees that show up each day with passion and focus doesn’t happen by accident — in fact only 30% of workers today possess these coveted qualities. Getting culture loyalty up and on track will take daily intention and creativity but before long, you will see the results in your people and in your bottom line.
*1) Gallup 2) As reported by the Engagement Institute, a collaboration of The Conference Board, Sirota-Mercer, Deloitte, ROI, The Culture Works and Consulting LLP.
Is your company using WFM technologies to drive engagement? The Improvizations team can help. Our experienced team can help you optimize your workforce platform — be it Kronos or another WFM platform — to achieve the best results from your technology, your processes, and your people.