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Everything You Need to Know About Employee Engagement

How to tap into your most valuable resource—your employees—to catalyze your company's success 

Highly-engaged employees are your company’s most valuable assets. By staying fully engaged day after day, they improve your company’s customer service, make your workflow more productive, and set the stage for high profitability.

Compared to companies with low engagement, those with high employee engagement tend to have:

  • Better employee health
  • Fewer safety hazards
  • More satisfied employees
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Higher retention
  • Limited shrinkage/theft
  • More positive cultures
  • Shorter sales cycles
  • Greater productivity
  • Better customer service
  • Better public reputations
  • Higher profit potential

But does your company understand the concept of employee engagement? Is there a solid strategy for improving it? Have you ever assessed how engaged your workers are?

Let’s take a closer look at the many aspects of employee engagement and its importance for a successful company. Read on to learn the latest research, trends, and recommendations.

What is Employee Engagement

What Exactly is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is a term that’s often misunderstood. It’s not the level of satisfaction or happiness your employees feel, nor is it how productively they work. Engagement is about the amount of commitment they have to your company.

An employee who feels personally motivated to further your company’s mission is a highly-engaged employee. They don’t just show up for work every day; they work with genuine enthusiasm and passion.

What Does the Research Say About Engagement?

Employee Engagement StatisticsResearch shows that a small percentage of your employees are probably highly engaged, a small percentage are totally disengaged, and most fall in a large grey area in-between. About 50% of employees at an average company fall into that grey area of engagement.

Some employees are more likely to feel engaged than others. Middle managers are more likely to be fully engaged than rank-and-file employees, but their engagement isn’t directly tied to their seniority or pay rate. Other factors tend to be more important: their working conditions, their career path, and whether they feel appreciated.

Highly-engaged teams are more productive and more profitable, bringing 21% greater productivity in one study. In fact, the same study showed that highly-engaged teams also had less stress and better employee wellness ratings. Engagement is good for the body and mind, as well as the workplace.

What’s the #1 predictor of engagement? Probably whether or not you like your boss. Research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that the bond between an employee and their boss is one of the most important factors in engagement and longevity with the company. When someone feels at odds with their boss, they’re at high risk for total disengagement from the company.

One thing is for sure: engagement is a global concern. A worldwide study found that maintaining high levels of employee engagement is the top human capital concern for one-fifth of all companies in the world.

How Do I Know if My Employees are Engaged?

How to Evaluate Employee EngagementMany executives assume they employ highly-engaged workers without doing any kind of company-wide assessment. They walk through the hallways and see smiling faces, so they figure that correlates to high engagement.

Be careful! Engagement is its own animal, apart from employee happiness or productivity. That’s why it’s so important to measure it carefully. You can’t always predict whether your company has a high level of engagement, although a very high turnover rate or very low employee satisfaction scores might give you a good clue.

There are many methods for evaluating your company’s level of worker engagement. A few examples include:

  • Annual employee surveys
  • Short, frequent pulse surveys
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Exit interviews
  • Customer feedback
  • Retention/turnover data

Each of these methods provides a piece of the puzzle, which you can then arrange into a total picture of your employee engagement. When you have a realistic view of your current state of engagement, it’s much easier to find effective paths to improving it.

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What Engages Employees in 2020? 

One of the most-discussed trends in employee engagement is the shift in employer loyalty that has occurred in the past decade. Workers who are millennial-aged and younger tend to change jobs three times more often than previous generations. This means it’s more difficult to keep them engaged and keep them around.

This leads to another significant trend, which is the increase in the importance of non-monetary rewards. Today’s employees want an experience, not just a job. They care deeply about supporting a company’s mission, being socially responsible, and staying physically and mentally healthy.

A survey of the best companies in the world found that most successful companies also have very high employee engagement. In addition, they tend to have schedule freedom that promotes a healthy work-life balance. This is on-trend in a world that increasingly favors flexible remote work instead of rigid, highly-scheduled work hours.

Employee Engagement Trends

5 Key Takeaways About Employee Engagement

Here’s the bottom line: engagement should be a priority. Ignore it, and your company will suffer. Support it, and your company will flourish. With that in mind, here are five key takeaways to remember.

1. Your mission matters.

Employees are increasingly concerned about whether their company makes a positive impact on the world. A company’s mission is a big deal. Make sure your company is sharing its mission both externally and internally.

2. Job candidates want something unique.

Engage Employees with Unique Perks and Your Mission

An employer should offer quirky perks and benefits people won’t find anywhere else. Today’s employees can work remotely for almost any company on Earth. To keep people interested, there must be something truly special you alone can offer.

3. Retention is tied to engagement.

Attracting employees is one thing; keeping them is quite another. Engagement is a huge factor in employee retention over the long term. It can be a victory just to keep an employee fully engaged for three years.

4. Measurement is a must.

In order to make progress on improving your employee engagement, first you have to measure where you currently stand. Gather data carefully through surveys and discussions. Show your employees that you place a high value on keeping them engaged.

5. Moderately-engaged employees bring big opportunity.

In all likelihood, a small fraction of your employees are at each end of the spectrum: strongly engaged or fully disengaged. Most are somewhere in the middle - and that presents a valuable opportunity to invest in engagement and support your company’s success.

Not sure where to go from here? Check out a few ideas and strategies for improving employee engagement at your company.

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We used SelectOne to fill key positions on one of Lorraine’s first portfolio companies and we could not be happier with the results or the experience. In addition to providing my firm with highly qualified candidates, all individuals at SelectOne were responsive, professional, sensitive to our needs, and insightful in their analysis of candidates. I highly recommend SelectOne.

Richard Gioia
Principal, Lorraine Capital

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