While we are in the midst of the “Great Resignation” as workers re-think their jobs following the Covid 19 Pandemic, employee engagement was an issue even beforehand. The 2019 Gallup State of Global Workplace report found that within Australia and New Zealand, only 14% of employees were engaged – while a massive 71% were disengaged and 15% were actively disengaged.
This is a very worrying set of statistics, especially considering the impact that employees have on the profitability – or not – of a business.
What is Employee Engagement?
Gallup defines employee engagement as the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace.
Similarly, Quantum Workplace states that employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection an employee feels towards their place of work.
How does Employee Engagement Differ from Job Satisfaction?
Whilst the two terms are often used interchangeably, it’s important to note that whilst they may overlap – they are not the same.
Creating engaged employees is not just about making them happy and providing perks and benefits. The competition amongst companies for good quality staff has seen a huge rise in warm and fuzzy offerings – things like on-site catering, gym memberships and offsite team building days. Whilst these benefits may help a business stand out in a crowded marketplace, employees need more than a well stocked kitchen and a good paycheck to really invest in their work and help deliver successful outcomes.
Drivers of Engagement
So what do employees need in order for them to feel engaged with their work?
- Clarity of expectations – knowing what has to be achieved and in what time frame.
- Providing the tools required to do the work – this includes access to information, systems and personnel
- Offering developmental opportunities – such as training courses and networking events
- Recognising achievements – whether privately by direct management or publicly by company acknowledgement
- Fostering positive working relationships – team building and social networking
People want purpose and meaning from their work. If they feel that they have a stake in the ultimate outcome of the company they work for, then they are more likely to want to contribute to its success. In fact the benefits are enormous:
- Engaged employees are more likely to show up to work and to work harder and more productively.
- They will show more loyalty and remain in their current employment for longer, thereby reducing staff turnover and wasted time and money on training and development.
- They help forge and build dynamic customer relationships, and keeping customers loyal is key for economic stability.
- All this in turn creates an increase in sales and profitability – which is ultimately the main goal of every business.
Working from home arrangements, reduced in person meetings and a pause on travel has seen a surge in uncommitted, disillusioned employees. Spending time to develop an engagement plan is crucial for the long term health and success of businesses.