Employee engagement is more than a business buzzword. The benefits of having employees that are genuinely engaged and motivated are very real.
[This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been substantially revised and updated to reflect a more current view of this topic.]
The problem with the phrase "employee engagement" is that it is still too vague and subjective for most employers and managers. As a result, they either ignore the concept or hope to create an "engaged" workforce by simply offering more perks and a few team-building programs.
Unfortunately, too many employers and managers to write off disengaged workers as a "bad fit."
Yet, the problem of disengaged employees is a real one and a costly issue for many organizations. And the most common reasons for this are company cultures and managerial styles that not only fail to foster employee engagement, satisfaction and motivation, but often work against it.
And the sobering statistics underscore the reality that these disaffected employees are highly likely to leave for other jobs elsewhere.
Employee Engagement Really Does Matter
While some managers and employers may dismiss the impact of employee engagement, the truth is that there is a measurable cost associated with having disengaged employees. Studies have shown that an overall loss of productivity, an increase in absenteeism, and even employee turnover can be a real and costly result of disengagement.Gallup's recent State of The American Workplace report focuses on employee engagement in the United States. Significantly, the report revealed that only 33 percent of workers in the United States are engaged at their jobs. According to Jim Clifton, Gallup chairman and CEO,
“At the other end, 16 percent of employees are actively disengaged—they are miserable in the workplace and destroy what the most engaged employees build. The remaining 51 percent of employees are not engaged—they’re just there. These figures indicate an American leadership philosophy that simply doesn’t work anymore. One also wonders if the country’s declining productivity numbers point to a need for major workplace disruption.”
Disengaged employees tend to feel disassociated with their job, manager or company and, as a result, they lack a strong sense of responsibility to the company. Consequently, it is less of a problem for them to not show up or to simply leave for another job somewhere else.
So, what are "engaged" employees?
Essentially, Gallup refers to engaged employees as those who love their jobs and try to make their company better every day. Employee engagement has been resoundingly shown to result from having a strong and vibrant company culture. These cultures also produce highly motivated employees.
What makes for motivated employees? The American Psychological Association (APA), along with Harris Interactive, conducted a workplace survey and found that employed adults who feel valued by their employer are significantly more likely to report being motivated to do their very best for their employer.
Here's an infographic we created to illustrate both the costs and benefits associated with engagement:
The Benefits of Engaged Employees
So, what are the tangible benefits of fostering and supporting employee engagement? Here's a brief overview according to the Gallup organization:
- Lower absenteeism
Engaged employees make it a point to show up to work—highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism.
- Lower turnover
Engaged workers are more likely to stay with their employers. In high-turnover organizations, highly engaged business units achieve 24% lower turnover.
- Less theft
Highly engaged business units experience a 28% reduction in inventory loss and a 40% reduction in quality defects.
- Fewer injuries
Engaged workers are more mindful of their surroundings. Work groups with engagement scores in the top quartile realize a 70% decrease in employee safety incidents in the workplace.
- Higher customer scores/sales
Work groups with higher levels of engagement achieve 10% higher customer scores and a 20% increase in sales than those on the lower end.
- Higher productivity/profitability
Work groups in the top quartile of engagement are more present and productive; they average 17% higher productivity, and 21% higher profitability.
As noted earlier, part of the problem in many companies is the lack of awareness on the part of management when it comes to the subject of engagement. Because it is subjective and intangible, it is easy to ignore or notice. In addition, it is also difficult to quantify and measure.
However, it is nonetheless a real dynamic and it can be "managed" by caring and conscientious leaders. And, while it may remain a somewhat intangible aspect of a company's culture, it is still possible to define and describe employee engagement. Or put another way, it is possible to "know it when you see it."
In an interview, Jim Harter Ph.D., Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well-Being, described how engaged employees are different:
“Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.”
Professional Help for Workforce Management
Employee development and engagement, building company culture and workforce management can all be part of the responsibilities of a company's HR staff. And oftentimes the tasks and demands can seem overwhelming. This is where having an alternative for your HR management can be highly beneficial.
Another key step in maintaining HR workload, while increasing your company's cost-effectiveness, is to consider outsourcing. A professional agency such as Accuchex can provide much-needed help with Human Resources needs and questions.
Accuchex is a full spectrum Payroll Management Services provider offering expertise in Time Management, Insurance and Retirement issues, as well. Sign up for our free "My HR Support Center" tour.