Employee Engagement is defined by the level of engagement, enthusiasm, and ownership employees have over their work. Employers know that a more engaged workforce is more productive and has less turnover. An employee engagement strategy is all about answering the question – how can I improve my employee engagement? And ultimately, how do I attract, retain, and engage the most talented employees in my industry.
Read more about Employee Engagement below.
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The Human Resources (HR) department must wear many hats to accomplish its job. This department typically oversees recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new employees. They also consult with executives on strategic planning and most commonly serve as the link between an organization’s management and its employees. With such a wide range of responsibilities, it is no wonder that outsourced HR departments are becoming more common. One of an HR department’s most significant challenges and responsibilities is employee engagement. If your team is not happy and engaged in their work, productivity will begin to slip, which will start a decline in business growth as well. We have put together this guide on employee engagement, to explain its importance and how it can be improved.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
Engaging with employees has implications that can positively or negatively impact your business. If this engagement occurs regularly and changes are made to better the lives of the employees, you will reap benefits like:
- Increased Employee Retention: Losing valuable employees is always difficult, but it’s even harder to stomach when it’s for dissatisfaction. When dissatisfaction is a driver of employee turnover, it’s often employees with the best job prospects that leave, in other words, your best talent. . The latest Gallup report showed that around 50% of employees are disengaged. By engaging with employees, you can begin to take action to increase their job satisfaction making it more likely that you retain them.
- Increased Productivity: Employees that feel like they are being developed and equipped to do their jobs will in turn be more productive. Engaging with your employees means seeing what you can do to make their work barrier-free.
- Less Burnout: With more companies transitioning to a hybrid or entirely virtual work environment, some employers expect their staff to be available more often and work longer. Employee burnout can quickly turn into turnover. Mental and physical exhaustion are on the rise in the workplace, and a straightforward way to combat this issue is by establishing open communication between team members. Create healthy boundaries for employees to come to work each day fresh and energized. These boundaries can range from establishing a regular time off for employees to creating clear and safe environments for questions and any necessary help.
How to Measure Employee Engagement
Understanding that employee engagement is vital to the success of any business is just the beginning. We know why it is essential, but what is the best way to effectively measure employee engagement? There are many different types of employee engagement strategies that can be implemented to improve a business. Let’s look at some examples of employee engagement to understand this process better.
- Define Your Goals: Managers should establish specific benchmarks that they need to reach with each employee. These benchmarks can help drive accountability, but for many employees, they can provide a clear roadmap for what success looks like in their job. Having employees understand how to be successful in their role is critical in driving engagement.
- Surveys: This method is less personal than a conversation, but the anonymity that comes with surveys can be important to get the unvarnished truth. Using surveys, you can ask more and a wider variety of questions while not taking away time from their work. For example, you can ask questions about job satisfaction, growth opportunities, or alignment questions about company ideals. Done right, surveys can be a cornerstone data point when crafting employee engagement strategies. It’s important to benchmark surveys against yourself. The first survey you conduct is your benchmark, and then you look for improvement in your metrics over the next several surveys.
- One-on-One: Sometimes the best way to understand someone is by simply talking to them. If this is not an established practice, an employee may assume they are in trouble. To combat this, one-on-one meetings should be as much of a regular occurrence as possible. Do not just meet for eventful moments, as this will add a level of pressure and stress for the employee with each meeting. These should feel like check-ins to see how they think about their work and place within the company. These meetings can avoid a lot of unnecessary problems due to miscommunications.
To diagnose an existing issue and understand the impact of employee engagement initiatives requires multiple data points so we encourage companies to engage in all three bullets.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
It can actually hamper employee engagement to survey employees and not follow up with an action plan. Employee engagement strategies have to move beyond data collection and diagnosis. Your employee engagement strategy should be about improving employee satisfaction by taking action on programs, policies, and procedures that will increase satisfaction and productivity. Below are just a few possible action-oriented steps a company could take:
- Employee Recognition: Even employees that have expressed they do not need praise for their work will find enjoyment in being celebrated for all they do. In a study performed by Deloitte, they found that “High-recognition companies have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures.” Something so simple as recognition at the start of a workday can lead to immense positive change for that employee and the company.
- Training and Support: Creating a workplace culture of development and support is fantastic for engagement. Dedicate resources to help employees improve both their hard and soft skills as it relates to their job and life.
- Implement Feedback Loops: Feedback around employee engagement isn’t just a one and done. Company culture is in constant change and a small rift or management change can be enough to change the culture and frustrate employees. It’s a good idea to do a company survey at least once a year. The simple act of surveying employees and following through with action can improve employee morale and loyalty. Manager Training: Managers
Employee engagement is a two-way street, so now that we know what it means for management, higher-ups, and business owners, we can dive into the drivers of employee engagement for the actual employees. If you look broadly, most engagement is driven by specific employee desires such as:
- Career Growth: Employees want to know that they have a future within an organization. The ability to move and progress through the ranks pushes a lot of employees to succeed in the role they were hired for. If they are not presented with clear avenues to grow, after they acquire skills from your business, they will leave for a different company that offers what you don’t.
- Role Clarity: You hear complaints all the time about employees being asked to do work way outside the scope of what they were hired to do. At the same time, it is reasonable for responsibilities to grow and change. A conversation needs to be had about a possible change to the role and sometimes even title and pay. An employee may ask for a bump in pay if they are working far beyond what an individual should be asked to do. When employees have clarity on their position, they can better connect their work’s impact on the business. This clarity will also ensure they can work with better focus and intention.
- Independence: When employees are micromanaged, their performance suffers as they worry over any minor detail out of fear of retaliation from their manager. Employees want to engage with their leaders to clearly understand the roles’ goals and expectations to gain a better sense of ownership in their work. When they have the freedom to choose how to manage their time and where to apply their expertise, employees are more likely to be invested in the company and its overall mission.
What is the Cost of Hiring an Employee?
All of the employee engagement activities and strategies that have been outlined in this piece serve the primary functions of keeping your employees happy, safe, and productive. Beyond that, it shows how these engagements keep employees at your company. If employee engagement is not a high enough priority, you will have to deal with employee turnover, and that can quickly get expensive.
The Society for Human Resource Management, in its 2016 report, found that companies take 42 days on average to hire a new employee. They also estimated that companies spend $4,000 per new hire, which does not consider their salary, sign-on bonus, stock options, etc. Those engagements can save you tens of thousands to hundreds of thousapayroonds of dollars. If employees feel that their management cares about their development and place within the company, they will stay longer, thus saving all the time and money to recruit quality candidates.
Engage with HR Specialists at Milestone
Human resources are a key element in employee engagement. They are the bridge between employer and employee. The functions they perform can be overwhelming for a smaller team. Outsourcing your HR functions to the team at Milestone can alleviate the headache of fulfilling those roles. Our team can help you discover what is truly important to your organization. We provide data-inspired solutions that make a real impact and increase employee engagement. If you are ready to transform the HR functionality for your team, contact us today!