With the challenges and roadblocks of the pandemic, a company culture superpower has emerged: employee engagement.

After trending up in recent years, employee engagement in the U.S. saw its first annual decline in a decade in 2021. This pattern has continued into early 2022, as 32% of full-time workers for organizations are now engaged, while 17% are actively disengaged.

Human resource leaders and benefits teams recognize that high employee engagement is the mark of a thriving workplace culture in the new work landscape. People-powered companies understand that improving employee engagement goes beyond physical benefits or a competitive salary. It’s about nurturing a sense of purpose and community, a commitment to your values and vision, and a culture of gratitude.

Let’s explore why employee engagement is important for creating a positive and healthy company culture and how you can improve it!

What we’ll cover:

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is a term used to describe an employee’s emotional connection and commitment to their job and their organization. Engagement goes beyond job satisfaction and involves a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Feeling valued, secure, supported, and respected is mission-critical. An engaged workforce does interesting work with interesting people. According to Gallup: “Engaged employees are those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.”

Involved. Enthusiastic. Committed.

Let that sink in. Now, think about all of the unique people on your teams. Are they authentically engaged with their work and each other daily? Where can you make space for growth and improvement?

Assessing employee engagement

Any employee or team may experience a period of disengagement. Smart leaders are tuned in and always adjust to their team’s needs. When you can’t prevent an engagement imbalance, you can spot it early and address it directly.

Measuring engagement across your organization can help establish a baseline. Annual employee engagement surveys provide an overview of strengths and opportunities and provide a benchmark for different groups and teams. Once you’ve identified broad strengths, the focus can shift toward one-to-one meetings to collect and analyze individual feedback and improvement areas.

Signs of disengagement

Pay attention to shifts in attitude, behavior, or consequences:

  • Attitude: Withdrawn, apathetic, complacent, cynical, oppositional, negative
  • Behavior: Procrastination, minimal effort, silence, inefficiency, lack of participation
  • Consequences: Absenteeism, unmet goals, missed deadlines, decreased productivity

The majority of actively disengaged employees are on the lookout for new jobs or opportunities. Yet companies with highly engaged employees enjoyed 100% more job applications.

10 benefits of employee engagement

With a culture of engagement, your people become the tide that lifts all boats. A workplace culture that fosters connection, community, and commitment thrives on employee engagement.

Employee engagement has many benefits for both employers and employees.

1. More inclusive workplace

A welcoming and inclusive culture creates a sense of belonging and a positive workplace. Social cohesion drives shared values, connections, and collaboration.

2. Deeper personal connections

Employees with at least one friend at work are more engaged and productive, and peers are the main reasons why employees go the extra mile. Positive work relationships boost retention and decrease the risk of burnout.

3. Improved collaboration

Sharing ideas, strengths, and skills makes people feel connected with each other and more engaged and contribute to a culture of innovation and growth. People are more likely to collaborate happily when they know they’re supported.

4. Increased motivation

When employees are aligned and connected to their work, team, and organization, they are likely to be intrinsically motivated. With high employee engagement, employee motivation and productivity surge.

5. More opportunities for growth

Sparked by curiosity, interest, and passion, highly engaged people find opportunities to develop and grow. Embracing a growth mindset makes employees feel more engaged, empowered, and committed.

6. Wellness promotion

Employees who are highly engaged with their work are more likely to have energy for wellness-promoting behaviors like mindfulness and movement, leading to reduced stress and improved resilience and mental health. When you offer ways for your employees to be healthy, they become more engaged at work, with great business outcomes.

7. Increased loyalty

Among actively disengaged workers in 2021, 74% seek new employment. Engagement directly results in lower turnover for the organization and long-term personal investment in the company’s mission.

8. Greater innovation

Creative problem-solving requires a willingness to fail. Highly engaged employees are more likely to take risks and be open to feedback, leading to increased innovation and creative solutions.

9. Higher productivity

High engagement means more attention to detail and fewer mistakes. *Employees who feel engaged with their work put in more effort. According to Gallup, engaged workforces are 17% more productive, affecting an organization’s overall financial health and profitability.

10. Better customer experience

Engaged employees are more closely aligned with the company’s mission and values, which is reflected in their customer interactions. Positive customer experiences and satisfaction leads to customer loyalty.

Why is employee engagement important?

Employee engagement is important for boosting morale and encouraging cooperation and collaboration. Healthy employee engagement can help with combating burnout, creating psychologically safe workplaces, and promoting a greater sense of inclusion and belonging.

Investment in people — from flexible work schedules to benefits for life (plus) — is the key to happy employees. Level up by listening to what your people need to feel supported, and reward highly engaged employees with recognition and benefits.

Not only does a culture of engagement have the potential to significantly affect employee retention, productivity, and loyalty, but it is also key to a company’s reputation and brand value. Getting employee engagement right is the first step toward creating an inclusive, resilient culture that attracts superstars.

How to improve employee engagement

A culture of belonging and gratitude where people learn and feel valued for doing their best work attracts highly engaged employees. The best solution isn’t for disengaged employees to change jobs or companies. It’s for leadership to create an environment where employees feel connected and motivated so they’re less likely to seek other opportunities.

Here are some best practices for improving employee engagement:

1. Create a sense of purpose

Everyone wants to see their role in a project as a driver of success. Connect employee efforts to your company’s mission. When everyone can see the organization’s values coming to fruition, trust and connection result.

2. Strive for open, honest communication

Acknowledging the whole person and communicating openly helps to create psychological safety. Healthy outlets for employees to voice their opinions and meaningful conversations between managers and team members reveal how people are feeling and where their focus is. Feeling heard and valued increases engagement.

3. Foster connections

Peer relationships drive employee engagement. Many employees spend more time in the office (virtual, hybrid, or live-action) than they do with their families. Caring for, being interested in, and seeing colleagues as friends creates a sense of belonging to a team and cause. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a great way to help foster meaningful connections and relationships between employees.

Read also: 10 Employee Resource Group Event Ideas

4. Provide regular feedback

Feedback on performance helps employees align with personal and team goals. Highly engaged team members understand where they fit in the organization’s big picture and how they contribute to its future success.

5. Allow cooperative flexibility

Successful organizations embrace flexibility. Flexibility is highly desired, second only to compensation in workplace satisfaction. Interestingly, according to Gallup, employees who work exclusively remote or hybrid tend to have higher levels of engagement (37% engaged in both groups) than those who work exclusively on-site (29% engaged).

Flexibility is especially important when supporting working parents. Focusing on results instead of when or where people work bolsters engagement!

6. Support well-being

Engagement and well-being are mutually beneficial. Well-being benefits address mental health and physical fitness, and when employees are engaged and thriving at work, burnout decreases, and productivity improves.

7. Utilize rewards and recognition  programs

Rewards and recognition for excellent performance incentivize engagement and encourage collaboration between colleagues. Being recognized and rewarded in front of peers enhances a sense of appreciation and validates their contribution to the company.

Read more:  21 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas For a Happy Workforce

Level up your employee engagement

Show your people you value them by allowing flexibility, cultivating connections, and offering individualized benefits. A Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA) from Espresa demonstrates that you understand your employees and what they want and need in their lives.

Your competitive advantage is your people. Happy people make more successful companies. Engage your people wherever they are with Espresa. Reach out to our team for a free demo!

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