“Employee engagement” is a property of the relationship between an organization and its employees. An “engaged employee” is someone who is fully invested in, absorbed by, and passionate about their work. In fact, they are so invested that they take action to improve and further the company’s reputation and interests.
It’s obvious why employee engagement is so important, right? Organizations want their entire employee population to be fully absorbed and excited about their work; otherwise, employees are less likely to work hard to make the organization successful.
So what does the real world say about this?
Employees Unsatisfied with their Jobs
The real world data says that only about one-third of employees in US corporations are engaged, which means that two-thirds of the employees in the US are not engaged. So, two-thirds of employees in the US don’t get jazzed about their work. Does it matter?
Yes. A lot.
Employee engagement done right has many benefits. Better engagement means better productivity for a company, and companies whose employees are engaged perform better than companies whose employees are not engaged by a whopping 200%. When employees are engaged at work, they feel a connection with the company, and they believe that the work they’re doing is important. In turn, these engaged employees significantly lower the risk of turnover for the company because they’re more invested its success. Now, their loyalty is much stronger and productivity is much greater.
At the Center of Unhappy Employees
The way I see it, the lack of employee engagement is totally a leadership issue. It is the leadership’s responsibility to create a culture in which people are excited about work – their own work and the company’s work. These days, organizations are also very likely to be committed to a cause that is not directly connected to the company’s business, but this involvement demonstrates the organization’s desire to be a great corporate citizen. Many employees get a strong sense of connection to this aspect of an organization’s efforts, and that alone can be huge in setting a positive culture. How does a leader build the right kind of environment in which employee engagement is likely to be high? Here are 3 ideas:
- Hire the right people. Make sure the interview process and questions are designed to determine if this candidate is likely to be engaged. It is far easier to hire an employee who you know will like the work the company does, as well as the work they will be doing.
- Create a learning environment. People stay where they can grow. Organizations that are learning-centered, where a premium is placed on self-awareness, willingness to learn, and openness to coaching and feedback often become employee-engaged companies.
- Measure employee engagement. Address the gaps. What gets measured, gets done. Michael LeBoeuf wrote a classic leadership book called, “The Greatest Management Principle,” and in it, he states that “what gets rewarded, gets done.” However, there is no way to reward employee engagement if it’s not measured. To ensure that employee engagement organizations measure their engagement, address the gaps in an open and transparent way. Then, reward exceptional engagement by individuals and teams.
Create a Happy Company Culture
Employee engagement is only important if you want more productive employees – employees who don’t leave and love coming to work every day. A positive, growth-centered, and goal-oriented company will attract employees who are such. Let us take this concept seriously and stop letting the disgruntled, empty corporate culture smother the upcoming generations. After all, they will one day make up 75% of the workforce.