Employee Engagement Defined

We talk a lot about employee engagement but do we really understand what it looks like? What are some telltale signs that en employee is engaged? What behaviors, attitudes, and actions help us visualize employee engagement?

Engaged employees are fully involved and enthusiastic about their work and company leading to positive business outcomes including:

  • Increased productivity and individual performance
  • Increased productivity and team performance
  • Better company financial performance
  • Retention of top talent and reduced employee replacement costs
  • Higher levels of customer service
  • Lower levels of absenteeism and sick days
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Characteristics of Engaged Employee Versus Unengaged

What are some of the characteristics and behaviors of an engaged employee versus those of an unengaged one?

  • More intrinsically motivated by learning new things, opportunities for personal and professional growth
  • Feels a sincere connection to company mission and can identify with the company core values
  • Extremely customer-focused
  • More productive
  • Loyal to employer, leadership, peers and subordinates
  • Emotionally connected and produce of her job and work performed
  • Committed to her work and gives higher levels of discretionary effort
  • Driven to accomplish company objectives
  • Has a sense of passion for her work
  • More likely to recommend her company to others
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A Week in the Life of an Engaged Employee

Sunday 5 p.m. – Outlines and maps out workweek. Jots down a few ideas for a new blog.

Monday 6:30 a.m.
– Inspired by an idea while showering. Knows she is empowered to develop an idea into an action item with high likelihood of meaningful accomplishment

Monday 9 a.m. – Short weekly check-in with manager to discuss week ahead, obstacles, and desired outcomes. Also discusses new idea she came up with over the weekend. Manager recognizes her for the idea and encourages her to go for it.

Tuesday 10:00 a.m. – Attends a one-hour training session and walks away with a new way to complete a particular task more efficiently.

Tuesday 12:30 p.m. Lunch with co-worker

Wednesday 4 p.m. – Works efficiently with access to tools to get the job done. Finishes up RFP without any frustrations over material or work-related tools like proper software, Internet access, or printer malfunctions.

Thursday 3 p.m. – Pulls together team of peers to brainstorm on new initiative. Her enthusiasm inspires a few of her co-workers to join in on the project and take on some of the tasks.

Friday 12:30 – Team lunch. She is called out by manager for great work. Peer talks about Thursday’s brainstorming session and shares enthusiasm for project with larger team.

Saturday 8:00 p.m. – Chatting with new friends at a dinner party and talks about her company with enthusiasm. One friend asks for her business card and they connect on  Linkedin.
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Summary of Drivers that Lead to Employee Engagement

  • Her job is well defined with clear expectations
  • She has consistent communication and positive relationship with manager
  • She receives regular feedback and recognition from her leaders and peers
  • She has a strong working relationship with peers that leads to camaraderie
  • She is free to focus on work and not held back by basic material and equipment (software, internet access, printing and communication tools.
  • Recognized in public forum
  • She is enthusiastic, focused, productive, collaborative, innovative, strategic, and tactical
  • Given opportunity for personal and professional career development
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Benefits of an Engaged Workforce

  • Increased productivity and individual performance
  • Increased productivity and team performance
  • Better Financial performance
  • Towers Perrin – Engaged employees lose only 8 days of productivity per year versus 14 for an unengaged employee.
  • Retention of top talent and avoid employee replacement costs
  • Higher levels of customer service
  • Leads to higher levels of morale
  • Lower levels of absenteeism
  • Fewer sick days
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Successful Employee Engagement Program Best Practices

1) Driven by leadership

Employee engagement programs are most effective when the CEO and senior management are 100% behind employee engagement and lead by example. Employees are much more likely to model the desired behaviors when they see their own managers living and breathing employee engagement.

2) Accessible (web and mobile)

Making employee engagement easy to access anywhere and anytime boosts likelihood of employees actually “engaging” with the engagement program.

3) Approachable (easy and fun to use)

Consistent with accessibility, an employee engagement program will have a greater success rate when it’s not overly complicated and actually fun to use.

4) Encourages frequent actions and high-levels of end-user activity

Employees will participate often if you make it easy for them.

5) Empowers employees to make decisions and participate in the program

Why not ask employees what they think contributed to happiness at work and higher levels of engagement? Including employee, company culture, vision and values into an employee engagement program ensures a sense of ownership from all stakeholders.

6) Reward for high performance

It’s important to recognize and reward top performers even if you don’t think they need or want it. One of the top requests by employees is for more recognition.

7) Transparency and communication

It’s vital that your engagement program is clearly defined and communicated to employees with frequent updates. While you’re at it, why not share engagement metrics and how the company is performing against the set employee engagement goals.

8) Includes regular feedback

Studies show that managers feel like they give consistent recognition and feedback but in actuality they don’t give enough.

9) Tied to unique organizational culture, values and employee interests

Employees feel a sense of ownership and pride in employee engagement efforts when they are asked to help create and empowered to participate in the program. Take your company culture, values and specific wants of the employees into consideration.

10) Includes rewards linked to positive behaviors and actions

Rewards don’t have to be overly complicated and in many cases can be free. Linking rewards to positive feedback is an easy way to increase overall engagement. Here’s an example of 25 fun and effective employee rewards that work.

11) Investment that shows measurable outcomes linking to ROI

How do you know if your engagement efforts are paying off? Studies show a positive correlation between Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For and higher stock prices. Measuring KPI’s like retention, absenteeism, productivity, and financial performance each quarter is a great way to measure the ROI of employee engagement.