You have read the headlines – “employee engagement is at an all-time low”, “organizations need employee engagement now more than ever” , “employee engagement is the holy grail of today’s workplace”, “a business strategy without a people strategy is doomed to fail” but is it truly that important? As a business owner or business communicator you are right to wonder, how much of that is hype vs. real?
Let’s explore those questions and try to answer this key question.
A recent Harvard Business Review called employee engagement “The holy grail of today’s workplace” (Being Engaged at Work Is Not the Same as Being Productive (hbr.org)). That is a strong statement, they go on to mention that highly engaged employees are a significant factor in the success of a business, and conversely, disengaged employees can significantly affect a company’s profitability.
According to Gallup’s oft-cited research on the topic, just about one-third of U.S. employees are engaged on the job. That number drops to 13% worldwide and has held steady for years. Or if we put it another way, actively disengaged employees are costing the US economy between $450 billion and $550 billion a year. That’s $16,000 per employee on average.
Most research points to these four ways in which employee engagement is important to a company’s success:
- Greater Productivity: Happy and engaged employees work harder. A McKinsey Global Institute survey found that productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees. This level of productivity growth has the potential for revenues of approximately $1.3 trillion per year.
- Lower Turnover: Engaged employees are less likely to leave your company. Employee replacement costs vary by industry but are typically estimated between 40% and 80% of an employee annual pay, reducing employee turnover can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.
- Lower Absenteeism: Long heralded as one of the bellwethers of employee engagement. Gallup has estimated that highly engaged workforce experience 41% less absenteeism.
- Safer: Engaged employees are more likely to follow safety guidelines and read company communications. A Gallup study shows that highly engaged employees suffer 70% fewer safety incidents. Safety incidents have a significant impact reputationally as well as to the bottom line. This study by Grainger breaks down direct and indirect costs and estimate a total of $59.9 billion to the US economy each year.
The stats show such a direct correlation between employee engagement and company performance. They are hard to ignore. In this next section, we will explore what is needed for employees to be engaged.
The dimensions of employee engagement
Employees need frequent communication that is open and honest. When employees hear about news, especially bad ones, though a second-hand source, they start to question their value to the organization, their role and their Raison d’être. As humans, we all have an existential need to be in the know, an open line of communication is a great way to build trust among your workforce and keep them loyal to the organization through good and difficulties.
A company’s vision is one of its most powerful tools to drive alignment and engagement. Employees that believe in your cause are more engaged, work harder, make less mistakes, and give you more of their discretionary time. This is especially true if your beliefs and your employees’ beliefs are in alignment. Purpose-driven organizations have known and enjoyed the benefits of engaged workforces for years. The rest of the world is slowly catching up.
Creating an inclusive and welcoming culture is an effective way to increase employee engagement. Employees have a desire to fit in and feel respected. A great culture, with great working conditions, that make employees excited to come to work every day and work hard will benefit any organization.
Rewards and recognition
Imagine a workplace that values your contributions, one in which praise and recognition motivate you on a regular basis. Employees who feel their contributions are recognized by their employers are more engaged. Without recognition, most employees become unmotivated and unproductive.
Recognition programs are easy to setup. You don’t need lavish gifts to show someone you care, sometimes an acknowledgment in front of their coworkers or a thank you email is all you need.
Professional and personal growth
Most employees want to continue to grow new skills and develop. Whether is taking more responsibility or via professional training. Your employees need room for growth to be engaged and excited not just about the work they are doing today but the future.
Accountability and performance
Your employees need, and deserve, honest constructive feedback. We all make mistakes and we all can learn from them. We also need to know what we are doing well. A constructive approach can create engagement, a strong desire on your employees to do better, and bolster strengths.
In today’s corporate world, employee engagement is not just important, it is crucial. Talent has never been scarcer, keeping your employees engaged should be one of your organization’s top business imperatives.
As an internal communicator, you play a significant role. Internal communications is key to creating and maintaining an engaged workforce. Through regular two-way communications employees can have an open workplace encouraged to provide feedback, be kept up to date, and recognized for their performance.
If your communication is targeted (see our article on the subject), then engagement with your communication is one easy way to measure workforce engagement. The math is simple – the more your employees read your communication, the more engaged they are. We have seen a direct correlation between lack of readership and engagement across all our clients.
As an internal communicator, our role is not just to facilitate two-way communications. We can also send pulse surveys to measure engagement, analyze our internal communication platform metrics and dashboards. We are in unique position to understand how engagement our workforce is. Armed with this information, we can have a meaningful conversation with our leadership team. This is the type of conversation that elevates our profession and significantly increases the value we bring to our organization.
Are you ready for a modern, vibrant communication platform? We’d love to introduce you to Sparrow.
If you’re looking for a platform to help make your life easier and connecting you with all of your workforce, give Sparrow a look. We’ve lived the pain, we understand the hopes, and we built a platform for communication professionals that delivers. From Intranets, to Microsoft Teams, to newsletters, and mobile, we know how important corporate communications is. Sparrow – Built for Communicators. Book a conversation with us today.