As the “great resignation” hits workplaces worldwide, businesses are looking for ways to keep their employees happy and loyal. Gallup reports that companies with high employee engagement were more resilient and stood stronger through the many challenges of the past year. However, only 20% of employees globally feel engaged at work.
A highly engaged workforce should be every organization’s goal, as it can increase innovation, productivity and performance. However, employee engagement can be often overlooked, or misunderstood to be the same as employee satisfaction. But while the latter is tied to personal experience, the former is more about employers taking initiatives to invest in their employees, and to create an emotional connection between people and their job, as well as an employee’s personal investment in business outcomes.
Engagement drives performance
Employee engagement relates to the level of enthusiasm and dedication workers feel toward their job. Engaged employees care about their work and about the performance of their company, and feel that their efforts can make a difference. An employee engagement program tied to corporate culture can include a range of initiatives to make staff feel valued.
To feel engaged, an employee should understand their role and purpose within their company, to know where and how they fit in – and it is an employer’s responsibility to make sure this happens. Managers can be catalysts for employees’ enthusiasm, and are key drivers to encouraging team spirit.
Employees need proper training in their roles to feel they are in a position to contribute to business outcomes. They also need more autonomy over their personal and professional development to feel confident and satisfied. In return, this leads to better decision making and performance.
A successful business has an employee-centric culture, and it values its people and their work. Beyond driving a company’s overall work, employee engagement offers several other benefits.
According to Gallup, the lost productivity of disengaged employees is equal to 18% of their annual salary. Conversely, an article from Forbes finds that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. Clear expectations about performance, with the appropriate tools and support to achieve them, can help employees feel more engaged. In return, they will work harder, more efficiently and with much more enthusiasm, in the knowledge their hard work will be valued against performance goals.
Stress is often a cause of poor physical and mental health, with 61% of employees feeling burned out on the job. This can lead to missing workdays, as well as poor performance. Providing a good work–life balance is integral to having happy employees.
Unhappy employees won’t stay in their workplace for long. In fact, among actively disengaged workers in 2021, 74% are currently looking for new job opportunities. Engaging employees helps reduce the cost of turnover and improve retention.
Better customer outcomes
When employees feel supported and recognized by their organization, they will be more likely to put the company’s best face forward. They will become the company’s own advocates, recommending it to friends and sharing posts on social media. An engaged employee is happy to build honest customer relationships and drive business profits.
Learning and development as a key driver to long-term employee engagement
There are many reasons why employees may feel disengaged from their workplace. According to a 2012 Harvard Business Review study, most employees reported that although companies generally satisfy their ‘on-the-job’ development needs, they fail to offer formal or structured development, such as training, mentoring, and coaching. That is why courses need to be engaging and genuinely relevant to employees, giving them practical tools to fuel their career journey and develop in their personal lives too.
This means that beyond corporate culture, L&D is a key driver of employee engagement. It not only demonstrates to employees that the company cares about them and their personal development, but it also gives them opportunities to learn new skills and develop professionally. However, the approach needs to find a balance between the personal and professional development of each employee, and the goals of the business.
LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning & Development Report revealed that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development – an eye-opening figure for L&D teams to ponder. Investing in training and prioritizing employee engagement, with a defined strategy to achieve it, are critical to a solid L&D program that delivers ROI and business success. Learning and development can have a significant impact on employee engagement, and the right training approach can develop a mutual commitment between the employer and its workers, so that both are invested in the company’s outcomes.
Employee engagement has a whole host of benefits, and many of them can have a real impact on the success of the business. To achieve it, employees need to feel part of the company, and that their work is appreciated. They also want to know that they have relevant opportunities for personal and professional development, so that they can grow in all aspects of their lives. If employees feel that their organization believes in them and is ready to invest in their people, businesses will have a dedicated workforce they can rely on during unexpected hard times.