Employee Engagement

It seems that engagement has become one of the favorite buzzwords among managers and HR professionals.  We know that engaged employees are good and non engaged workers are bad, but do we really understand why?  What does employee engagement really even mean?

In general engagement is a term used to describe the degree with which employees connect with their work and with their employer.  Engagement may measure how committed the workforce is to the organization and its goals.  For instance, people who are highly engaged in an activity:

  • feel excited and enthused,
  • are less aware of the passage of time,
  • devote discretionary effort to the activity,
  • identify with the task and describe themselves to others in the context of the task (“writer,” “runner,” “account manager”),
  • think about the questions or challenges posed by the activity during spare moments,
  • resist distractions and find it easier to stay focused, and
  • Invite others into the activity (their enthusiasm is contagious).

Most often you can see examples of this kind of behavior with people associated with their favorite sports, hobbies, or other activities.  And, contrary to popular belief, there are a number of people who feel this way about their work.  These employees enjoy work more.  They are more successful and make a more pronounced contribution to the organizations they serve.  Consequently they are happier and more fulfilled by their work experience, engagement is truly a win/win for both employees and employers.  Some of the other benefits of an engaged workforce are:

  • higher productivity,
  • increased retention rates,
  • enhanced innovation and collaboration,
  • improved customer satisfaction, and
  • concrete improvements in bottom line results over time, share value, and return on investment.

So what is engagement again?  Well according to the authors of “Workforce Engagement”, it is a strong belief in what you do and identifying with the work and workplace so passionately that leaving would be painful.  Honestly, how many of your employees could be described in this way?  Even more honestly, do you have methods of measuring and determining what percentage of your workforce are engaged or not?

The benefits of an engaged workforce are many and the pain of unengaged workers can be fatal.  Fortunately there are ways to quickly and easily measure levels of engagement, and at real bargain prices.  The proactive manager or business owner should be surveying their employees yearly, or every two years at a minimum to determine levels of engagement and more importantly to measure how effective programs designed to improve engagement are.  The cost savings from discontinuing expensive yet perhaps ineffective programs would pay for the cost of surveys many times over.

As our economy and our world continues to face a future of never ending change, those companies who cultivate more adaptable, more innovative, and more engaged employees will be the long term winners.  The pace of change continues to increase.  A more highly engaged workforce is consistently able to do more with less.  What type of workforce are you building?

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