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How to Improve Employee Engagement

Published October 28, 2022 (last updated on April 26, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer


Employees who feel connected to their company and job generally work harder, stay longer, and are committed to their employers. Employee engagement is the concept that affects everything your employees do, and it determines the success or failure of your business. Profitability, revenue, and customer experience are all dependent on employee engagement.

As an employer or business owner, you may have heard the term ‘employee engagement’ thrown around. But what does it really mean? How can you truly measure employee engagement? And what are the main drivers of employee engagement? If your employees are disengaged, what can you do to salvage the situation? Find out the answers to these important questions below.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement helps you measure employees’ perspectives on the crucial elements of your workplace culture.

"Employee Engagement is the art and science of engaging people in authentic and recognised connections to strategy, roles, performance, organisation, community, relationship, customers, development, energy, and happiness to leverage, sustain, and transform work into results."

Levels of engagement in the workplace

You can find out if your employees are actively engaged with their work or they’re simply putting in hours. When it comes to engagement, there are 3 levels in the workplace:

Fully engaged- Motivated, dedicated employees who take an active role in the company and interacting with the team and working towards achieving the goals of the business.

Not engaged- People who are not engaged but just coasting. They don’t get involved actively but they don’t prevent the team or company from moving forward.

Actively disengaged- These employees are actively holding the team back and they are completely disengaged from company values and goals.

Why is employee engagement important?

Engaged employees are more efficient, productive, and dedicated. According to a Gallup  only 21% of employees are engaged at work.

This means that 78% of the global workforce are either not engaged or only doing the bare minimum to last through the day.

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Important Employee Engagement Stats

Only 21% of employees are engaged at work. 

This means that 78% of the global workforce are either not engaged or doing the bare minimum to skate through the day. 

1 in 3 employees leave a job as they get bored. 

The second most common reason for employees to leave a job is poor work culture. 

Only 29% of employees are happy with the career advancement opportunities available to them. 

  • Increased employee productivity- Employee engagement has a real and tangible impact on productivity. If employees feel engaged, they are likely to be more productive and empowered. Engaged employees outperform other employees consistently. Companies with high employee engagement tend to be 21% more profitable. Managers and employers ensure they nurture this engagement and offer clear, consistent communication so employees know what is expected of them.

  • Higher employee retention- When employees feel challenged or engaged, they have reasons to stay and perform. Most workers often change jobs because of boredom or lack of challenges. Effective employee engagement involves offering substantial opportunities for employees to progress. Data has indicated that 63.3% of companies say retaining employees is harder than hiring them. Employee turnover is also a costly problem to have. It costs roughly 20% of a salary to replace a lost worker. Morale is also impacted, and a domino effect can take place if other employees decide to leave. Therefore, higher employee retention is a great benefit of employee engagement.

  • Lower absenteeism– Engaged employees want to show up to work. They want to avoid taking unnecessary leave and they want to do their best. This reduces absenteeism and creates a positive workplace culture.  

  • Increased revenue- An extensive research project detailing the corporate cultures of 200 companies and its impact on long-term economic performance found that companies that encouraged leadership initiatives and appreciated their employees and customers grew a staggering 682% in revenue. During the same time period, companies without a positive and thriving company culture grew only 166% in revenue. These numbers are real, solid indicators of the effect of employee engagement and its role in increasing revenue. Company culture contributes to employee engagement so by improving one you effectively improve the other.

  • Better customer experience- Engaged employees ensure the business puts their best foot forward. They offer a complete and wholesome customer experience. The consequence of under-servicing customers or delivering poor customer experience is far severe for small or mid-sized businesses compared to larger companies. The loss of each customer represents a significant proportion of sales, customer base, and leads to reputational damage. Therefore, employee engagement can help save you from losing customers and delivering an enriched customer experience.

What are the main drivers of employee engagement?

We know that employee engagement can be the difference between a struggling business and a successful one. There are numbers to back this statement up. We also know what we must do to engage employees. It’s simple- create a workplace that employees enjoy coming to every single day. But this simple goal takes a lot of effort and drivers.

  • A job that is interesting and challenging- Employees want their jobs to be interesting and challenging. They want their job to push them out of their comfort zone. Boredom can push employees to feel disengaged and uninterested in their roles.

  • Motivating work- Employees want to feel motivated. They want roles that push them and make them feel they contribute to something bigger than the individual.

  • Inspirational leaders- A inspiring leader or manager can set the tone for employees. Employees feel engaged if they have inspiring leaders or managers to look up to. Leaders that put people first, display commitment, and have integrity can engage employees efficiently.

  • Future success for the business- If staff feel they can contribute to future success for the business, they feel engaged and involved.

  • Professional growth and opportunity- What career opportunities do your employees have? Is their scope for professional growth? Can they access training and development? Businesses that offer professional growth opportunities to employees have engaged and committed employees.

  • Work life balance- Do your employees feel they can manage their work and personal life without sacrificing on the quality of each aspect?

  • Diversity and Inclusion- Does your workplace make employees feel included? Is your workplace diverse and respectful?

How to measure employee engagement?

Before we understand how to improve employee engagement, we need to know ways to measure employee engagement. You should evaluate your measures and metrics to understand how engaged your employees are.

  • Conduct surveys- Anonymous surveys are ideal for collecting data. Record demographics, specifics, and ask clear, direct questions.

  • Analyse the data- Start analysing the data once it has been collected. Delegate different sets of data to different people so that they don’t feel overwhelmed. Notice patterns and observe trends.

  • Act on the data- Data is only useful if you act on it. Action would include sitting down with managers, discussing the results, and deciding next steps.

How to improve employee engagement?

Now that you collected data and analysed it, it’s time to take action on the insights. Employees whose employer acts on their feedback are 2 times more likely to be engaged. Sadly, there is no cookie cutter approach to improving employee engagement. It boils down to what your drivers are, areas where you need to improve, and the potential changes you can implement.

  • Supply employees with the right tools- Do your employees have all they need for success? Have you supplied them with the right tools? The typical knowledge worker spends 2.5 hours a day searching for information. When key information is missing or right tools are not provided, employees must waste their time looking for it instead of completing their tasks.

  • Offer learning opportunities and training- Employees want to learn and grow. If businesses offer them adequate learning or upskilling opportunities, they will feel engaged and motivated.

  • Give employees autonomy- 86% of employees say they feel the need to prove to bosses they deserve to keep their jobs. This kind of attitude implies a lack of trust and belief. When employees have autonomy and trust, they know they belong and are supported by their managers.

  • Get to know your employees- What drives your employees? What motivates them? How well do you know them? Have you spent time trying to get to know them? Do they have the alternative to build a relationship with you?

  • Foster team building, games, and activities- Engaging employees goes beyond making them productive or being profitable. Build real, human connections with employees by having team building, games, and activities.

Who is responsible for employee engagement?

70% of team engagement is determined by the manager. Employee engagement should be a manager’s responsibility. If your business has a manager or a senior employee in charge, they should ensure clear communication and support to employees. If you manage employees as a business owner, then you need to advocate for them, support them and explain how their work contributes to the success of your business. Unfortunately, without the right tools and guidance, business owners can struggle to understand performance management or engagement. They may end up micromanaging leading to complicated employment relations. Working with experts in employment relations can ensure you avoid any miscommunication and management challenges.

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