Why Increasing Employee Engagement Should Be A Strategic Priority

Thought Leadership on Recruiting and Retention presented by Vector Talent Resources.

According to Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace Report, only 33 percent of employees are engaged in their job. Slightly more than half of employees (51 percent) say they are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings, and 35 percent of workers report changing jobs within the past three years. Clearly, CEOs and managers should be very concerned about a waste of time, effort and resources in their organizations. After all, if your staff is not engaged, how can you achieve your business objectives that are critical to improving organizational performance?

Investing in engagement initiatives that help your employees be healthy, energized, focused and loyal will result in a staff of happy, motivated and effective team members. A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that outperforms its competitors and one that fails to grow.

What is “employee engagement”?

“Engagement” is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. This means that the employees are not simply working for a paycheck or the next promotion, but that they actually care about their work and their company. It is a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organization to give their best each day, committed to their organization’s goals and values, which provides incentive to take positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

Why should you care about employee engagement?

Employees engaged in their work are likely to be motivated, to remain committed to their employer and to stay focused on achieving business goals and driving the organization’s future. When you have an environment where your employees are engaged by their work, you’ll notice: higher levels of productivity, a boost to your bottom line, better retention rates of your top talent, and an increased sense of health and well-being.

On the other hand, employees who are actively disengaged have the opposite effect on their organization’s prosperity and growth. They can drag others down and impact everything from customer service to sales, quality, productivity, retention and other critical business areas. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity.

How do you foster a culture of engaged employees?

So what engages employees? The drivers differ person to person, but employee engagement is largely about social connections happening within the organization and aligning work experiences with employees’ needs.

  1. Rich communication. The emotional component of communication speaks to our basic human need to feel valued, and is often the basis of any healthy relationship, including the one between an employee and his or her manager. When employees receive proper, positive, and constructive communication, they feel in the loop and included. Gallup has even found that consistent communication – whether it occurs in person, over the phone, or electronically – is connected to higher engagement. This can be achieved through a variety of ways including using employee engagement surveys to get a pulse on the workforce, social media, regular meetings, and awards and recognition.
  2. Health and wellness. Employee health and wellness is a significant factor in productivity, wellbeing, and performance that cannot be overlooked. A Gallup study found that 62 percent of engaged employees feel their work positively affects their physical health. Yet that number drops to 39 percent among non-engaged employees and down to 22 percent among employees who are actively disengaged. Helping your employees be healthy and energized through corporate wellness initiatives enables them to be happy, motivated and productive members of your team. Caring about employee health isn’t just a perk or nice gesture; there’s also a strong business case to be made for infusing wellness into your organization.
  3. Selecting the right talent. Improving engagement has to start with organizations closely examining how they attract, retain and engage employees. Leaders have to create cultures that reflect the wants and needs of the modern workforce – regardless of job type or industry – and give employees a reason to choose them, stay with them and perform at their best. And by virtue of obtaining the right talent, you must select the right managers. The best managers understand their success and that of the organization relies on employees’ achievements. Great managers empower their employees, recognize and value their contributions, and actively seek their ideas and opinions. It takes talent to be a great manager, and selecting people who have this talent is important in furthering employee engagement.

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