Engagement seems to be the secret sauce for the world’s most successful companies. In Forbes’ list of the Best Companies to Work For, the names at the top of the list are also the places where employees feel highly engaged and passionate about their mission.
In fact, if you dig through the research on employee engagement, it’s hard to find any downside to having highly-engaged employees. Engagement boosts all the good stuff - teamwork, productivity, customer service, profitability - and minimizes negatives like employee turnover, accidents, and theft.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly what the research shows about engagement and what it could mean for your company.
Engagement falls on a spectrum where some employees are highly engaged, some are in the middle, and some are fully disengaged. About half of the employees at the average company are in the middle ground, not wholeheartedly engaged but not actively disengaged either.
Research shows that the breakdown is generally as follows:
However, these are averages and aren’t necessarily how the numbers stack up for your company. You may have far more or far fewer employees who are fully engaged.
And the numbers can also change over time if you make an investment in engagement. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it’s possible to improve engagement without spending a dime if you’re willing to put time into paying more attention to your employees and giving them more positive feedback.
The research clearly shows that you can’t buy employee engagement. You won’t see a rise in engagement merely by paying your employees more, giving them promotions, or offering bonuses.
Middle managers are generally more engaged than other employees, but it’s not directly tied to their pay. Engagement is more driven by non-monetary rewards like enjoying your work environment, having good relationships with your coworkers, and feeling a personal connection to the mission of the company.
Here’s some terrific news about engagement: highly-engaged teams are more productive and more profitable. One study found that high engagement makes teams 21% more profitable.
In a team with high engagement, you’ll find a shared feeling of camaraderie among people who are ready to roll up their sleeves and be productive every day. Their high level of engagement can even be contagious, giving a lift to the spirits of others around them.
About one-third of all U.S. workers say they feel extremely stressed at work and their workplace stress has a negative impact on their mental and physical health. That’s a worrying fact because stress is a major contributing factor in six leading causes of death.
On the flip side, feeling engaged at work reduces stress and helps people feel more relaxed both while they’re at work and outside of work. Workplace engagement gives people a sense of positive purpose that pervades their life and supports their good health.
Research by SHRM shows that your relationship with your boss is one of the most important factors in engagement. Simply put, if you don’t like your boss, you’re more likely to disengage.
But if you and your boss get along, and it feels that you both have a shared mission in mind, you’re much more likely to feel engaged. That makes you more likely to stick with your current employer longer than the 4.2-year average for U.S. workers.
The word is spreading about the importance of engagement. It’s in the “big three” of top global HR priorities, along with leadership and culture. For 20% of all companies in the world, maintaining high employee engagement is now their #1 human capital concern.