What is employee engagement?

By Tim Cooper

10 May 2021

What is employee engagement?

Lockdown fatigue has become a major challenge for companies, as employees feel drained and disengaged from work and colleagues. This raises concerns around wellbeing and productivity. But you can fight back against low morale by investing in your employee engagement strategy.

This article covers

What is employee engagement?

Good employee engagement means setting the right conditions for employees to give their best to the company. Research shows it is essential for success.

According to Engage for Success, a voluntary organisation that promotes this concept in the UK, good employee engagement also motivates all employees to commit to your goals and values, and contributes to individual performance, productivity and wellbeing.

Kevin Kruse, author of ‘Employee Engagement 2.0’, says the concept is not about employee satisfaction or happiness, although they may contribute. Engagement means gaining an emotional commitment to your company and its goals, so staff do not work just for the next pay packet or promotion, but care about their work and the organisation's goals.

Why employee engagement is important

Research shows 94% of companies believe efforts to engage employees have given them a competitive advantage. Companies with engaged workers also have 6% higher net profits and five times higher shareholder returns over five years.

This is because engaged employees provide higher service quality and productivity, which leads to increased customer satisfaction, sales, profit and stock price.

According to the Global Employee Engagement Index, the UK scored 6.8% on engagement compared to the global average of 7%. Engage for Success says this lower percentage is a significant cause of the UK’s subpar productivity rates. Research shows that good employee engagement correlates with higher productivity and performance across all sectors - and better rates of absenteeism, staff retention, innovation, customer service, and staff advocacy.

Top quartile engagement could therefore increase gross domestic product by billions of pounds in the UK.

How to boost employee engagement

There are hundreds of ways to boost engagement.

One of the most effective is to assess your staff to find out what matters to them, then tailor your rewards and engagement programme accordingly. The results may surprise you - a recent survey showed 40% of UK staff would rather have flexible working hours than a pay rise.

Finding effective ways to boost recognition, such as reward schemes, makes everyone feel appreciated. Also, make sure all employees understand why they are doing what they do, overall and with individual tasks.

Employee engagement platform Perkbox recommends focusing on the frequency and quality of staff communication. A good rapport with management has a major positive impact on engagement - or the opposite if staff feel ignored.

Another tip is to design your work environment with employees in mind - changes in decor, access to natural light, and a common room all help build morale.

Employee engagement platform Quantum Workplace also suggests celebrating your people’s accomplishments and other life events out of work - from birthdays to sports or community achievements.

Another tip is to advise, coach and nurture staff rather than bossing them around, and ask for their advice, help or feedback. This appreciates their strengths and opinions and can improve performance drastically.

Also encourage individuality by asking employees about their personal lives and what drives them, so they can bring their whole, authentic selves to work.

Quantum Workplace also suggests making sure your staff are not overworking, with ample free time, and getting out of the office and having fun to strengthen team building and increase productivity.

Technology benefits

Technology can also help boost engagement by simplifying and uniting employee recognition and communications in a central engagement system such as Reward Gateway.

A centralised platform can help you assess, tailor and promote what’s important to staff and your organisation - from employee discounts and perks to recognition, surveys and internal communications.

This delivers and amplifies communications quickly and easily; and helps create a morale-boosting culture of recognition, support and employee wellness.

A well-designed system can also offer powerful engagement analytics, showing you which drivers have the most impact.