How Engaged are Your Employees?

Employee engagement has become a buzzword in business, but what does it mean? More specifically, what does it mean for your business? Would you describe the majority of your employees as enthusiastic about and committed to their work? According to Gallup, the majority of Americans are not. And this is costing us big.

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What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is still a relatively new and complex concept, yet it’s so vital to productivity that a Gallup poll has been employed to report its status on a daily basis. Currently, this poll indicates that 67 % of U.S. employees are not “engaged,” meaning just one-third of employees are enthusiastically putting forth their best efforts at work.

The American Society for Training and Development defines engagement as “employees who are mentally and emotionally invested in their work and  in contributing to their employer’s success.” Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their companies. These are the employees who drive innovation and move the organization forward.

Why does employee engagement matter?

Employees who are “not engaged” are mentally checked out. They put in their time but offer no passion or energy toward their work. Worse yet are the “actively disengaged” employees. These employees aren’t just unhappy; they are busy acting out their unhappiness. These workers undermine what their engaged coworkers are trying to accomplish, creating conflict fueled by their own negativity.

A recent poll conducted by Florida Gulf Coast University found that of the current regional workforce:

  • 29% are “engaged”
  • 45% are “not engaged”
  • 26% are “actively disengaged”

Statistically, engaged employees take less time off from work per month and are unlikely to leave their jobs. Most importantly, their productivity is measurably higher. A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that engaged employees are 12% more productive, while their unengaged counterparts are 10% less productive. Productivity and retention are key indicators for a company’s success.

How can employee engagement be fostered?

Gallup Business Journal asserts there are 12 elements for employee engagement. Here’s what engaged workers have in common:

  1. They know what is expected.
  2. They have a friend in the workplace.
  3. Their managers let them know how they are progressing.
  4. They see opportunities to grow.
  5. They have the materials and equipment needed to the job right.
  6. They have opportunity to do what they do best every day.
  7. They receive frequent feedback and recognition for a job well done.
  8. They know their supervisors care about them.
  9. They are encouraged in their development.
  10. They know their opinion counts.
  11. They feel they are part of something important.
  12. They see fellow employees who are committed to doing quality work.

From this list, it is clear that managers play a key role in employee engagement. Good leaders set realistic performance expectations, help find solutions to problems, and demonstrate passion for success. They also defend their direct reports when necessary, demonstrating loyalty and integrity.

Perhaps the most foundational element on the list is setting clear expectations. Workers of all ages and stages need to know what is expected of them.Otherwise, their anxieties and confusion will negatively impact the workplace. Employees who lack clear expectations will spend too much time working on things that don’t advance key initiatives of the organization. Managers should ensure they articulate clearly, reward excellence and position employees to maximize their individual strengths.

The Bottom Line on Employee Engagement

It’s not the tools — office supplies, software programs, etc. — that sets one business apart from another in the industry. It’s the people. Engaged employees are more productive, efficient and innovative. These are the employees who will create value for your organization. If you want to improve your bottom line, prioritize employee engagement.