Employee engagement has been a topic of much conversation and study in the corporate world for the past several years. It’s a phrase that has captured the attention of workplace workers, line management, HR managers and the executive suite.
The Conference Board defines employee engagement as “a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work.”
Engaged employees have been shown to willingly contribute their time, talents and abilities to the success of an organization. They not only commit to achieving a company’s goals, engaged employees often, at their own volition, extend their discretionary effort to go above and beyond their management’s acceptable performance standards.
There have been many studies on the benefit of employee engagement. According to a Gallup study, 54% of employees are not engaged, 17% are actively disengaged, and only 29% can be considered as engaging their time and talents.
Gallup’s research also revealed how disengaged employees adversely impact a company’s performance and profits. According to the research findings disengaged employees result in 27% more absenteeism, 31% more turnover, 51% less effective and 62% more accidents. Stephen Covey, in his book “The Speed of Trust,” indicated that these numbers conservatively cost American businesses between $250 billion and $350 billion annually.
Now for the good news. The research findings also reported that engaged employees account for 12% higher customer satisfaction scores, 18% higher productivity, 12% higher profitability and 17% higher earnings per share.
How do organizations capitalize on these results? There are many drivers but the strongest of all is the performance of leaders which carries the most influence on the actions, behaviors and, ultimately, the engagement of employees. At least four studies support some common drivers of engagement which correlates with leaders:
The responsibility for engaging employees falls squarely on an organization’s leadership team. Fortunately, there are a few low cost, low tech and high touch ways that leaders can build higher levels of engagement into their organizational culture.
Leaders have the responsibility to foster a culture of high engagement. If leaders practice the aforementioned actions on a regular basis, employees will recognize and appreciate their active engagement and be highly motivated to respond by becoming more engaged in return.