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What does employee engagement really look like?

September 6, 2017

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Employee engagement is an ongoing buzzword, but there are many different perceptions of what exactly an engaged employee is.  Employee engagement goes beyond happiness at work.

If it was as simple as being happy at work, a ping pong table and endless beer/wine taps would solve the problem.  True employee engagement looks at the employee experience as a whole.  Engagement is measured by how emotionally committed an employee is to their team and the company.  

Collaboration among your team is one of the best ways to determine if your team is engaged.  Engaged employees view their coworkers as more than just a colleague, they often view them as friends.  They work will together in meetings and collaborate often.

According to Gallup research, the twelve statements below can predict employee engagement:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  3. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  4. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  5. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  6. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  7. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  8. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  9. I have a best friend at work.
  10. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  11. This last year I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
  12. In the last six months someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

Managers have a large impact on employee engagement and retention. According to McLean & Company’s engagement data, every 10% increase in the category “my manager inspires me to improve” resulted in a 4.15% increase in an employee’s intent to stay.  

HR must encourage leadership to take an active role in the engagement of their team.  Only 34% of U.S. workers report that they are engaged at work, according to Gallup data.  Employee engagement has a direct correlation with productivity.  According to the Hay Group, organizations with strong employee engagement scores see revenue growth at a rate 2.5 times higher than companies with lower marks.

So how does an organization go about improving employee engagement?  Keep in mind that engagement is different than satisfaction.  While higher pay and better benefits generally improve a worker’s satisfaction and overall happiness, they don’t truly drive engagement.  McLean & Company recommends starting with the three most important actions to improve employee trust and therefore engagement: 

  1. Inform employees of the why behind decisions
  2. Interact with them on a personal level
  3. Involve them in decisions that affect them

It’s important to monitor employee engagement year-round.  Without consistent effort, engagement will fade.  Talk about it openly with employees.  Discuss the 12 Gallup statements with each team member and ways you or the organization can improve how they feel about each one.  An engaged team is committed, more productive team.

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