Did you know that 67% of employees are not engaged at work? According to Gallup, this means that nearly 7 out of 10 employees are indifferent to the business that employs them.1 These indifferent employees contribute their time, but not their full effort. Most business owners would find this number frightening. It is unlikely that anyone wants to run a business with employees who only offer partial effort. Not only does this decrease or halt the road to success, but it creates a lackluster environment, and likely a subpar company culture. That’s why it’s so important to impact employee engagement.
In today’s post, we will explore the benefits of employee engagement, as well as steps you can take to impact employee engagement in your business.
What Is Employee Engagement?
The concept of employee engagement originated in the 1800s, and was brought center stage in the 1990s when the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) published a paper with clear evidence linking employee engagement and the overall performance of a business.
Employee engagement is defined as “the emotional commitment an employee has to the organization he or she works for, and its goals.”2 In practice, engaged employees buy into the goals and vision of the business they work for. They feel nurtured, empowered, and enabled to do good work that drives their business forward.3
How You Benefit From Measuring Employee Engagement
The success of a business lies in the hands of its employees. In fact, a Gallup study found that a lack of employee engagement costs American businesses anywhere from $450 to $550 billion a year.4 Businesses that impact employee engagement are able to assess and address common problems that are harming your business.
I recently discussed the topic of employee engagement with WorkTango cofounder, Nadir Ebrahim. WorkTango enables companies to give their employees a voice and easily collect frequent feedback for any engagement, transformation, or feedback initiative. Using data science and natural language understanding, actionable insights from employee feedback is served in real-time to HR, executives, and people leaders.
Nadir summed up the importance of measuring employee engagement in just a few sentences:
“Employee engagement drives shareholder value. Engaged employees are more likely to be more productive, have a positive influence, provide better customer service, drive innovation, and stay at their company. In fact, companies with engaged employees report 2.5x more revenue than competitors with low engagement levels.”
Here is a closer look at the key metrics your business can improve by measuring employee engagement.
- Increased Profits
Businesses whose employees are engaged perform 200% better than businesses with disengaged employees.5 The more engaged your employee is, the stronger a connection they feel with their company. Engaged employees believe that the work that they are doing matters and therefore work harder and smarter. Additionally, engaged employees take better care of their customers, and as a result, customers are likely to increase their spending with the company. In this case, engaged employees are directly related to a company’s value.
- Reduce Costs
Employee engagement is a key predictor of employee turnover. Over one year, the attrition rate of disengaged employees is 12 times higher than for highly-engaged employees.6 And, as you already know, the more you replace employees, the more time you spend recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding. This increases your overhead expenses.
- Motivation & Effort
The power of influence is a strong one, especially in the workforce. No matter how independent an individual may be, they will be influenced by the coworkers they spend 40 hours per week (or more) with. For example, even if an employee is satisfied in their role, continuously listening to the negative comments from a disengaged employee could shift their level of engagement, threatening morale across an entire business. On the other hand, engaged employees are positive and have enthusiastic things to say about their work. In this case, new and existing employees are exposed to a positive work environment and are easily motivated to collaborate and work towards the common goal.
How To Impact Employee Engagement Through Active Listening
Employees aren’t going to tell you whether or not they’re engaged. Engagement is something that you need to strategically and consistently influence in order to improve the metrics we mentioned above.
It’s Not Just An Annual Thing
Traditionally, companies have used annual or pulse surveys to assess drivers of engagement paired with an index to calculate an overall engagement score. This process is quickly becoming outdated, partly because employees are losing trust in the process. About 70% of employees don’t respond to annual surveys, 29% think these surveys are pointless, and 80% of employees don’t believe that their HR departments will act on these surveys.7
Furthermore, Nadir explained that “…just as technology and processes have shifted from waterfall to agile, there is a similar shift with engagement measurement.” He added that employee engagement is moving away from annual and pulse surveys and more towards active listening. Active listening helps organizations understand employee attitudes about work, presents a form of collective organization to management, influences leaders’ decisions on work-related issues, and shows the reciprocal nature of the employment relationship.8
“The active listening model is less about measuring and more about learning how to impact employee engagement. It’s a more dynamic way to understand what’s really impacting employee engagement in real time. The active listening model creates a platform for an employee’s voice to be heard and enables leaders to respond and act on issues impacting their people,” said Nadir.
Active listening creates an opportunity for real-time actionable improvement. This means that your employees are never in the dark about their performance, their role within the company, and their growth opportunity.
Characteristics of a company that uses an active listening model include:
- The opportunity to give and receive peer feedback on a regular basis.
- Encouragement of open conversations at any time with one’s direct manager, across teams, and with leadership.
- Opportunities to contribute to and impact a company’s overall mission, and decision-making power, no matter the title.
- Taking employee demographics into consideration. “WorkTango has seen differences in gender, generation, performance rating, tenure, role type, seniority, and many other attributes,” said Nadir.
Tools Available To Measure Employee Engagement
Taking the time to measure employee engagement and impact active listening can help you pinpoint why employees are disengaged, and strategize how to fix the problem.
What’s the best way to encourage active listening? Since this form of employee engagement is the opposite of an annual occurrence, it can be extremely useful to use software to manage the process. Here are a few worth exploring:
- WorkTango: WorkTango’s software was built to “give employees a voice and leaders actionable insight.” Their software provides tools to successfully manage all aspects of employee engagement, including leadership feedback, change management, project effectiveness, diversity and inclusion, business transformation, and more. WorkTango allows you to upload employee attributes, protect anonymity, collect insights in real-time, and view intuitive and role-based metrics.
“WorkTango enables companies to listen to the employee voice, use data science to uncover and deliver insights directly to leaders throughout the organization, and using artificial intelligence – coach and nudge leaders to consistently improve and act on employee challenges,” said Nadir.
- Culture Amp: Culture Amp provides a library of research-backed engagement, pulse, and deep dive surveys. Each survey is customizable and designed by organizational psychologists and data scientists to uncover honest feedback and measurable results. Culture Amp also benchmarks results against organizations like yours and track your progress over time, all within the platform.
- Lattice: Although Lattice characterizes themselves more as a people management platform, their features fit agile employee engagement. Their platform can be used to:
- Initiate real-time feedback.
- Track one-on-one check-ins between employees and their direct reports.
- Set goals aligned to a company’s overall mission.
- Celebrate wins and help recognize employees for their hard work.
No matter how much technology you have access to, HR still has a large role to play to impact employee engagement.
“Traditionally, acting on employee engagement has been the responsibility of HR. At WorkTango we believe that to truly impact employee engagement, you need to engage your people and leaders at all levels and enable them to act,” said Nadir.