Driving Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is essential for the long-term sustainability and growth of any organization, whether it is a profit-making business or a non-profit organization. Lately, there has been increased attention and emphasis on employee engagement, particularly in the business world, due to persistence evidence of decreasing engagement and active disengagement. In 2015, an engagement survey carried out by Gallup across US employees revealed that only 32% were engaged whilst 17% were actively disengaged, leaving 51% of employees not engaged. This pattern could be generally true across the rest of the world, and our general observations may reveal that there are many organizations, where employees are either actively disengaged or not engaged. Needless to say, this situation is unhealthy for the long-term sustainability of organization, and the economy in general. Therefore, it is important to have a special focus on driving employee engagement across all areas of the organization.

It is important to get a practical understanding of what employee engagement means. According to Kevin Kruse (Forbes, 2012), “employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals”. Further, employee engagement does not mean employee happiness or employee satisfaction. When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort. Kruse goes on to say that employee engagement leads to higher service, quality and productivity, which in turn leads to higher customer satisfaction, which leads to increased sales, which leads to higher levels of profits, which in turn leads to higher shareholder returns.

There are multiple factors that drive employee engagement and there are various conceptual models that describe these factors in different ways. Whilst companies may allocate large budgets on improving employee engagement, there are cost effective ways of achieving high employment engagement levels. Tamara Lytle (SHRM, 2016), offers seven tips to increase employee engagement without spending a dime:

  1. Supply the right tools – Without an “enabling infrastructure” employees will not have the tools they require to succeed in their roles. This has a significant impact on employee engagement, and this is a critical factor that can be often overlooked.
  2. Give individual attention – When driving employee engagement, it is important to know which approach works best for each individual, since a broad-brush approach will not be effective. Therefore, providing individual attention, with a view to adopting an individual-specific approach, is essential for employee engagement.
  3. Provide training and coaching – The more the employee feels the company is investing in his/her future, the higher the level of engagement.
  4. Listen to employees – A comprehensive approach to listening will help quickly address organizational issues, whilst people feel valued.
  5. Get social – A simple way to make employees care more about their workplace is to foster closer better social connections across peers, and between superiors and subordinates.
  6. Serve others – CSR work can help employees feel more fulfilled and find their employment more meaningful, whilst cultivating closer relationships.

Recognize proudly and loudly – When organizations clearly broadcast their staff’s achievements, by way of awards, announcements and other recognition programs, there will be a feeling of appreciation amongst employees, which in turn leads to even higher engagement.