The Crucial Importance of Employee Engagement

23 May 2022

Employee engagement is a hot topic for senior management and HR in every company. With the CBI reporting only 12% of businesses are happy with current levels of employee engagement, it’s clear to see why it is a challenge for so many companies. In this article we tackle the ‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ of employee engagement to help you improve your business.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement means more than happy employees. It’s about your employees being true advocates of your brand. Engaged employees are invested in their role with the company, embody the core values of the business, and eager to see the brand succeed in the long term.

Why is employee engagement important?

Engaged employees bring a whole host of benefits to companies which is why more and more businesses are investing in it. Many of the benefits are interlinked, resulting in compounded gains for companies. Businesses with engaged employees find the work culture improves, and this then leads to reduced staff turnover. With the great resignation still looming over many companies, reducing staff turnover rates is vital for the survival of many businesses. Engaged employees are also found to have better productivity and improved client and customer relations, and in turn increasing profits for the business. In a Gartner survey CX executives, 86% ranked employee engagement as having an equal or greater impact on customer experience than other factors. The end goal of employee engagement, however, is to turn your employees into advocates of your brand, willing to promote your brand to friends, family, and potential clients.

How do you increase employee engagement?

Increasing employee engagement isn’t something that can be done overnight and it requires a much more dedicated approach. It needs to be incorporated into the fabric of the company. Here are some proven ways to increase employee engagement in pursuit of greater employee advocacy:

Pick the right employees

Engagement begins even before employment starts. Many potential candidates apply for jobs due to factors such as, ease of commute, pay, or benefits, and while these are important, it’s not what makes an engaged employee. The person-job fit will greatly impact the success of any engagement endeavours, which is why it’s important to have the concept of employee engagement ingrained even during the recruitment phase.

Hiring managers and recruiters need to put a focus on selecting candidates who believe in the company’s values and mission, as these candidates will become more engaged employees in the workforces. This is supported by research from McKinsey stating about 70% of respondents who said they are likely to stay at their position indicated that they strongly support their organisation’s mission and enjoy the nature of the work. It’s vital that the recruitment process establishes why a candidate applied for a role to ensure the person-job fit is a match.

Enrich your employees

A company’s CSR involvement is becoming of greater importance to the workforce. Employees want to see that the company they work for is helping the wider community and will appreciate the option to get involved.

There are many different ways to get the company involved in CSR and finding what suits your business best is key. If CSR isn’t already a part of your company’s agenda, consider surveying or consulting your employees to find out what initiatives they are most interested in supporting. The more involved employees feel in CSR the greater impact it will have on employee engagement.

Give employees a voice

A common issue which can impact employee engagement is workers feeling as though their opinion doesn’t matter. If employees feel unheard in the workforce it results in feeling insignificant which is counterproductive to nurturing engaged employees. So, you want to ensure your employees have space to voice their opinion, offer suggestions, and feel listened to.

Suggestion functions and feedback forms are a great way to automate this functionality into your business. However, it is imperative that if you have the option for suggestions, employees must be kept informed on the progression of their suggestions. Even if a submission isn’t viable it should be feedback why it isn’t, otherwise it can result in employees feeling ignored and suggestions being superficial in nature.

Reward platforms make a great space to let employees offer suggestions and incentivises them for doing so. They can be custom build and tailored around your companies mission and values to reinforce feelings of unity between colleagues.

Increase visibility

Employees can come to distrust companies who keep their wider goals and objectives under wraps. Gartner found that 24% of leaders who did not involve workers in planning said employee resistance was one of the most significant barriers to achieving their automation initiatives, compared with 17% of leaders who did involve workers in planning. To combat this, businesses should increase the visibility of their aims and plans for the future. There are many ways to keep employees in the loop and what suits best will depend on the content of the news or update.

Make use of the software at your disposal to share information with employees, whether it’s an announcement over Teams or a daily digest through emails, there are many options available to facilitate digital updates.

Conferences and events also make a great opportunity to get employees at all levels involved. Announcements can be combined with messages surrounding the company’s mission and values, reinforcing these ideals to employees and increasing engagement as a whole.

Bolster bonds between colleagues and managers

Work culture goes a long way towards improving employee engagement, which in turn improves work culture. It’s important to invest in creating a friendly working environment that your employees want to be a part of and for that you need to let your employees build relations together that they value as more than just colleagues.

A good place to start is ensuring employees have places to socialise and build stronger bonds. Messaging apps such as Teams have group chat functionality which ensures WFH colleagues aren’t excluded from strengthening workplace relations. Inside the office space should be created for employees to socialise away from their desks, giving them a greater degree of separation, such as breakout rooms. It's important to encourage out of office socialisation as well to improve relations away from work. Taking these steps listed will encourage a more tight knit workforce and improve employee engagement.

Reward engagement

When you do see your employees actively engaging in the company it’s important to reward this behaviour. Did they put great status up on LinkedIn about the company? Send them a thank-you email and CC in the team. It promotes the employee to continue the behaviour and other employees are more likely to follow suit. You can also use physical rewards to thank your employees such as our MemMail service. Branded to your company guidelines it improves employee engagement through recognition.

Trust your employees

Flexibility is the gold standard for employers now. Companies are being celebrated on social media for innovating their hybrid working policies and giving employees freedom to work how they want, rather than how the company wants. Not every employee wants to work from home, but having the option too makes employees feel trusted, and gives them greater control over their work-life balance.

Consider what allowances could be made within your company to accommodate hybrid working. Whether it’s just one day a week or a fully flexible working week. It’ll lead to increased employee engagement, by creating a better working environment, and improve brand image overall.

Track engagement

While annual engagement surveys give a good year round up, they can be impacted by how employees feel at that particular time. To avoid this do shorter, but more frequent surveys to get a consistent image of employee attitudes. This also allows for remedial action to be taken on issues employees flag before it impacts their outlook too much.

It's also important to ensure that you give employees ample time to complete surveys and encourage as high a completion rate as possible. Only the most dedicated employees would fill out a form unprompted which would result in skewed results.

There are other ways to track engagement that don’t rely on employee feedback such as absence rate and turnover rates. While absence rates aren’t necessarily indicative of low employee engagement it’s worth tracking your absence rates compared to industry standard. If you are higher than average it could be a symptom of employees are reluctant to work because of the working environment. Alternatively, turnover rate is a key metric to measure when it comes to engagement. High turnover rates are linked with low employee engagement, McKinsey found 62% of respondents who expected to change jobs in the next year were notably dissatisfied with their current role. This is why exit interviews are crucial to find out why your employees are leaving and if there are actions that need to be taken to reduce turnover rate going forward.

Further Reading

If you want more resources on how to nurture employee engagement you can check out more of out content here –

How to battle employee loneliness 

How to motivate employees

Why live events are important

At Inconnection we have decades of experience creating solutions designed to boost employee engagement and advocacy. If you want help building events, conferences, custom reward programme, or corporate gifting, to help improve your employee engagement we can help. Contact us now and we will handle the rest.