Employee engagement is one of the hottest HR buzzwords at the moment and with good reason. It has been identified as a pivotal driver of business success in today's competitive marketplace. At a time when the importance of employer branding is front and centre, an engaged workforce is the ultimate metric to track.
What Exactly Is Employee Engagement?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employee engagement can be defined as the level of an employee's connection and commitment to a given organisation, which in turn affects their productivity and loyalty. Engaged employees are optimistic, team-oriented, solutions-driven, show a passion for ongoing learning, and are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Here are a few reasons why a firm focus on employee engagement is vital for businesses of all shapes and sizes in a time when the future of work is continuously shifting.
8 Reasons Why Every Business Should Focus On Employee Engagement In 2020 and Beyond
1. Improved Productivity
Businesses with a high level of engagement report 22% higher productivity, according to a new meta-analysis of 1.4 million employees conducted by the Gallup Organisation.
Engaged employees work harder because they are connected to their team and want to see the business succeed. This is a direct result of having challenging, fulfilling work in an environment where employees are fairly treated and provided with the opportunity to upskill and advance in their careers.
When senior leaders focus on providing these conditions, productivity is a natural by-product as employees come into their own.
2. Reduced Employee Turnover
Employee turnover is expensive. In fact, the equivalent of an astounding $11 billion is lost annually due to unwanted turnover each year.
When a talented individual leaves your company, they walk out with all the time and resources you invested in training them. Additionally, there is the added expense of recruiting someone new, the downtime and initial lack of productivity while you upskill your new recruit, and a potential overall dip in morale as the rest of the team adapts to a new group dynamic.
According to statistics, fewer than 15% of employees leave for a higher salary. The rest move on because they want to feel more challenged or valued.
3. Boosted Morale
When a team of people are all working towards a common goal (i.e. the wellbeing of a business), morale is boosted from within. Instead of gossiping or griping about issues that may occur, constructive conversations pave the way for better collaboration and seamless problem-solving.
Good managers can guide their teams to becoming a more cohesive unit and lead by example to lay the groundwork for better engagement.
4. Increased Employee Satisfaction
Employee satisfaction is a notoriously difficult metric to quantify. Various aspects of the employee experience contribute to overall satisfaction - feeling valued, being comfortable in a working environment, having all the tools to do your job properly, and deriving a sense of joy from fulfilling your role in a team.
When employees enjoy optimal levels of satisfaction, productivity can be up to 31% higher, and sales improve by up to 37% according to a study by the Harvest Business Review. Likewise, the University of Warwick found that an increase in overall happiness among a workforce can yield a 12% increase in productivity.
5. Lower Absenteeism
According to South African statistics, the local economy loses up to R70 billion per year to absenteeism. Around 50% of the sick days that make up this count qualifies as 'excessive absenteeism'. This means that the employee was off sick for longer and more often than is the average for the size and type of their organisation.
However, absenteeism does not just refer to sick days. It also accounts for employees arriving late, leaving early, attending to personal business on company time, and being away from their desk or idle or disengaged during office hours.
According to a Gallup Workplace report, businesses with engaged workforces have lower employee absenteeism rates by up to 41%. That’s good news all around.
6. Better Overall Communication
When employees are connected to their co-workers and managers, the lines of communication are open. This makes for space in which any latent issues can be addressed head-on, quickly and efficiently.
7. Supercharged Creativity
The link between innovation and employee engagement is undeniable. It all starts with the company culture. A culture that focuses on the wellbeing of a company's workforce, and providing them with the tools they need to succeed, naturally leads to greater levels of engagement than those that don't.
Creativity flourishes in spaces like these due to the fruitful balance between psychological empowerment and challenges that call for innovation. This is the case at companies like Snap, Microsoft, Tesla, Big Hit Entertainment, Hackerone, White Claw, Shopify, Canva, and the rest of the enterprises that rank among the Most Innovative Companies of 2020.
8. Improved Customer Satisfaction
Richard Branson famously said that employers should take care of their employees so they will take care of their customers. When employees are fully immersed and enthusiastic about their work, they are willing to step up and go the extra mile to resolve client issues and close a sale. This underpins a culture that promotes consistently great customer service.
Customer experiences do not occur in a vacuum. It is the direct result of employee activities. By taking ownership, showing passion and delivery on their commitments, engaged employees get better results.
A firm focus on employee engagement will drive business growth from the inside out. Engaged employees are more productive, creative and satisfied, and less likely to jump ship, gossip, or be absent.