What Employee Engagement Actually Means 

Employee engagement consists of initiatives employers make to emotionally connect and commit to their employees. Through engagement, employers create an office culture that promotes loyalty to the organization and its goals. If implemented effectively, engagement leads employee to care about one another, their work and the company.

It should be noted that employee engagement has nothing to do with being happy though it may encourage happiness. Game rooms, adult playgrounds and running down corridors on Segways can create the idea of a fun place to work, but engagement is more about developing talent that wants to work hard and be productive on behalf of the company.

With an intent to build emotional commitment in their staff, management initiates a level of care in employees. Employees simply do not show up for the paycheck. They are idealistic about the organization’s goals and success. Caring employees use discretionary effort.

When employee engagement works, the staff acts on behalf of the company without needing to be prompted. A senior vice president picks up a newspaper that’s fallen on the floor even when no one’s around. An IT guy continues working on a project without their supervisor asking them to stay overtime. Engagement entails an employee pulling one last report to review even if their shift is over in a few minutes.

There is a major difference between engaged and satisfied employees. A satisfied, or even happy, employee is not necessarily engaged. Satisfied employees have no significant complaints about their duties. They show up on time. These employees get along with everybody. They have good ideas and management reviews. But they do not go beyond the boundaries of their responsibility. If they hear about a new spot with a nice bump in pay, they’re in a bathroom stall at work whispering to a headhunter without hesitation. This employee does their job. An engaged employee cares about their job, their responsibilities, the company and what leaving will do to all that.

Not surprisingly, engagement greatly increases the chance of improved business outcomes. In 2012, Towers Watson, a highly regarded firm that specializes in financial services and human resources consulting, conducted research using companies with strong employee engagement programs. The research found organizations with an engaged staff had a six percent higher net profit margin. Another study – conducted by Kenexa, an affiliate of IBM that provides employment and retention services – found companies with sound engagement practices showed shareholder returns five times higher over five years than comparable companies.

Not to anyone’s surprise, good employee engagement is directly linked to linked to effective leadership skills. Without these, the company lacks the ability to gauge its shortcomings and strengths. Honest communication will be an issue, preventing the company from seeing how even their employees perceive them. A good leader knows the organization and has the capacity to respond to the needs of its employees. Good leaders value creativity and build trust. These are a small portion of the criteria that promotes employee engagement and a chain that includes higher stock prices.

Employee engagement is the first step toward a higher level of quality, service and productivity. When this is in place, expect greater satisfaction in your customers, clients and vendors. They will appreciate the employee dedication. From there, the company will see repeat business, strong referrals and increased sales. This is how we reach the aforementioned high levels of profit and higher shareholder returns.

With well-implemented practices for employee engagement, management is essentially plugging into major power sources – the staff. They are charging employees up and getting the best out of staff by showing employees why they should engage.

JP George

Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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