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What is Employee Engagement and Why Is It Important?

Category: B2B News
Why is employee engagement important?
Employee engagement is important because it increases the overall productivity of a company’s workforce. Engaged employees will feel committed to their jobs and the organization and thus will give their best to ensure great results. Employee engagement can also reduce the instances of leaves, absences, office incidents, and quitting. Finally, engaged employees will adhere to the company’s values and goals.

A job contract can only do so much. It defines the obligations of the employees and they, in return, do just that: the tasks they’re compensated for. Detached employees will do the bare minimum required of them and will leave at the slightest sign of better opportunity. This is the reason why employee engagement should be practiced at all levels.

Tools such as productivity suite software might be a good solution for managing employees. But it’s not enough because, at most, employees still only do what is asked of them. Same with time-tracking apps, although critical to improving productivity, they’re only as good as the manner they are used.

Employee engagement is a culture you develop in the organization. It isn’t something to enforce on individuals. It’s a collection of little things that, over time, will make employees feel a deep connection with the organization they’re working with.

In order to achieve that level of engagement with employees, one must first understand what the concept means. It’s also important to separate them from similar and related, but not exactly the same, terms. That is what this article covers. It shows various definitions of employee engagement as well as some descriptions it’s associated with. This fairly short read will also discuss the benefits that employee engagement brings. And finally, a series of tips on how companies can better engage their workforce.

employee engagement

Tinypulse’s 2019 Employment Engagement Report shows some concerning numbers. It says that 43% of employees are willing to leave their current job for a 10% higher salary. It’s actually more alarming when that figure is compared with the same statistics from 2015, which is 23%. With just 4 years of difference, the number of people ready to exit their employment is almost doubled.

Attrition is indeed just right around the corner. This means that companies must do something and they must do it fast. However, it’s not the only reason why employee engagement shouldn’t be considered an afterthought. According to Gallup’s Employee Engagement study, there are three types of employees categorized according to their level of engagement. Guess who drives innovation and moves the organization forward? That’s right, the actively engaged ones.

Employee Engagement in the US

Not Engaged Engaged Actively Engaged
Not Engaged (45%) Engaged (29%) Actively Engaged (26%)

Source: Dale Carnegie Training in 2017

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What is meant by employee engagement?

Employee engagement is built upon connection, growth, trust, communication, and commitment between the company and its members. It’s the dedication of employees in their jobs that they are willing to put extra effort to ensure good results. Engaged employees go to work enthusiastically and invest their best into every task they do.

Employee engagement is the organizational approach that sets workplace conditions for the entire workforce to give their all every day. It lets staff commit to the values and goals of the organization as well as contribute to its success. Engaged employees feel loyalty and pride for the company they’re working for.

Employee engagement means functioning more effectively as a member of a team. Workers aren’t afraid and are instead empowered to voice out ideas and opinions that’ll contribute to the group. They understand their role in the organization and is excited by the prospect of fulfilling them.

Employee engagement is manifested in staff members who go beyond just showing up. They get involved simply not because of the compensation they receive. But also because of how emotionally invested they are to their work and the company.

Employee engagement is a way of obtaining a deeper level of commitment to the organization. This could translate into a more positive working attitude and better productivity. Conversely, this could also mean fewer conflicts, reduced sick absences, fewer leaves, and so on.

Employee engagement happens when workers feel that they are appreciated, empowered, and heard. This might include simple acts of celebrating individual success like getting personal thank-you notes. It could also stem from acquiring their inputs to help shape certain initiatives and activities.

employee engagement

What employee engagement is not?

Various instances might allow the term employee satisfaction, commitment, happiness, and engagement to be used interchangeably. However, in a way, it’s dangerous to do so. For one, it might bring companies a false sense of security about keeping their employees.

There are key differences between the aforementioned terms. One of which is the probability of leaving the company in favor of a better offer. Another one is the level of benefits employees brings to the organization.

Let us first define what employee engagement definition is not. It’s not being content with their job, the environment, and their pay because that’s employee satisfaction. It’s not having fun at work or just enjoying what they do, that’s employee happiness. Finally, it’s not simply identifying one’s self with the organization and being proud of what he/she does. That’s a commitment, close but still not engagement.

Benefits of employee engagement

It is said that engagement is a symptom of success. That is because the more engaged employees are, the more they feel their work valued. This leads to them naturally working harder and happier; something that could benefit any type of organization. Let’s take a look at the specific areas in which employee engagement activities improve.

Increased productivity

Engaged employees feel a positive connection with the company they’re in. They see and feel that their work is appreciated and valued. This provides them the oomph to always give their best. According to a set of time tracking statistics, a good chunk of work time goes to non-official activities.  Engaged employees are less likely inclined to waste time because of their dedication to their jobs. Not only that but they’re also willing to go for the extra mile whenever they see fit.

Improved employee retention

Engaged employees are invested in their role in the organization that they are less likely to quit. Their retention rate is higher and wouldn’t easily sway to other work opportunities that pay a little bit higher. This would help decrease the turnover rate and avoid the domino effect of workers leaving the company.

Better communication

Engaged employees are better at communicating with their customers, leaders, and co-workers. This means a better impression from customers, more productive talks with leaders, and stimulating discussions for co-workers. Not only will this create a better workplace atmosphere but it might also lead to innovative ideas.

Effective ambassador

Engaged employees are better suited to represent the company, be it for customers or events. They treat clients into a better experience and their passion adds credibility to their sales pitch, demonstration, etc. Moreover, they enjoy participating in events and activities that could help with the company’s marketing efforts.

Enhanced company culture

Engaged employees are more likely to embody their company’s values in their everyday work. Others would see it and are more likely to follow suit. This is a good way of creating a culture of engagement.

How do you engage employees?

We’ve been giving employee engagement nothing but praises. Therefore, it’s only fitting to provide ways to increase the engagement level of the company’s backbone: the workforce. Here are several tips on how to improve employee engagement:

It worth noting, however, that the suggestions this article covers are for organizations of any size. Here’s a more specific guideline about improving employee engagement in small businesses, for startups that need more resources.

Provide the right tools for success

In order for employees to be more engaged with their work, the management must provide the proper tools for them. But it shouldn’t stop on the tools needed directly for their work. The company must also furnish them with resources they could use to be better at what they do. This includes giving training and coaching to ensure that they know everything related to their job and more. Not only will this give them more confidence and less stress, but it would also help with their productivity and performance.

Develop a company culture that focuses on people

A good company culture caters to the employees’ needs. It promotes a balanced lifestyle between personal and work activities. The management must get to know their staff’s responsibilities and try giving initiatives based on them. They must help their employees find the right balance between home life and work life. It won’t be a one-sided deal too because workers would most likely reciprocate it with a job well done.

workplace engagement

Show them gratitude and recognition

Employees, or anyone for that matter, like it when someone appreciates their effort. It’s one of the simplest, but most overlooked ways to motivate employees. Acknowledgment by management and co-workers can go a long way in making a point that someone’s effort doesn’t go unnoticed.

Get to know them

Another simple but effective way to engage employees is to spend some time with them. This could span from a fraction of second to say “Hi” all the way to having lunch with them. Ask them about something less work-related, such as their families, personal goals and background. It’s a good way to build a connection between employees and the company.

Promote growth

Managers must provide their staff with the opportunity to show off their skills when doing their jobs. They must also give their employees the chance to do their tasks in their own way. Giving them step-by-step procedures that they must adhere to with hairbreadth precision might just lead to stress. Moreover, the management must offer encouragement during daunting times. Turn down their ideas if needed, but not in a way that they’ll be discouraged to convey their thoughts again.

Create a good environment

The nature of work plus the branding of the company must be reflected in the work environment. But that’s not all the consideration to make. Employees come to work each day and it’s only fair for them to be in a comfortable workplace. For instance, bright and properly air-conditioned office helps keep the place more conducive for engagement.

Encourage taking breaks

Full 8-hour work is not productive and if anything, it’s downright inhuman. Management could encourage and remind their employees to take 5-minute breaks to rest, stretch, etc. Employees who feel that their company is concerned about their well-being and not just sales tend to work harder.

Ask for feedback

It’s pretty common for the management to be the one giving feedbacks on employees about work, environment, etc. However, asking them for input is a great way to make them feel that their opinions matter; which does. This could be done through the use of survey software, via casual conversation, etc. Employees who think they play an important role in the company will be more invested in their work.

Don’t simply ask for the feedback though, listen to them. If it’s an issue, try to resolve it. Suggestions about policies, projects, and other vital matters must be seriously considered. Anyone will feel disengaged if their opinions are constantly voiced but aren’t heard.

Promote teamwork

Employees that belong to a team feel a greater sense of purpose, especially when working on big projects. Having them work in a group allows thoughts to flow more frequently. The members would then refine and improve the ideas until they become the solution. In this situation, good collaboration software is a big help. Nevertheless, meeting the needs of clients through a group effort provides a sense of belongingness and an incredible feeling of satisfaction.

Be authentic

Falsifying relationship is one of the worst things that employers could do that could hinder employee engagement. Sincerity between the management and the workers are the building blocks of trust and commitment. Employees will become aware of the office’s open concept and thus, wouldn’t feel the need to hide things. Not from their co-workers, peers, or superiors. This would result in a comfortable and more welcoming workplace that employees could truly enjoy.

What is the objective of employee engagement?

Employee engagement aims to guarantee that the members will commit to the organization’s values and goals. They’ll be motivated to make a contribution to the success of the company. That’s because doing so also enhances their own sense of professional and personal growth. This makes any investment in formulating and deploying employee engagement strategies, such as using performance appraisal software, totally worth it.

The campaign for increasing employee engagement must not end with making them content with their jobs. Management must go beyond that and offer their full support for their employees’ well-being, growth, and comfort. Leaders must go out of their way to interact with their team members and express gratitude whenever they earn it. And finally, the company must nurture its workforce; empower them, listen to them, and build a sincere relationship with them.

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. No stranger to small business hiccups and drama, having been involved in a few internet startups. Prior to his for-profit ventures, he has had managed corporate communications for a Kansas City-based Children International unit.

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