The Importance of Being Engaged at Work

What employer doesn’t love engaged employees? It makes for happier customers, lower turnover, better quality work, and a greater overall chance of success. It only makes sense that employers should find ways to encourage engagement — but how?

First, let’s take a look at what employee engagement is, so we can better understand how to solicit it. SHRM (2017) offers this loose definition: “The term employee engagement relates to the level of an employee’s commitment and connection to an organization.”

Essentially, if an employee has a high level of commitment and loyalty toward their company and their work, they’re likely to do more and do a better job of it, to boot.

Still stuck? Let’s make a comparison: Employee A shows up to work a little bit early each day, makes suggestions for improvement, and seems excited to participate.

Employee B shows up to work on time, consistently turns in mediocre work, and leaves at exactly quitting time, after glancing at the clock all day.

This is not to say that those who observe a more rigid schedule or are attempting to be strict about their work-life balance can’t be or won’t be engaged — it’s more about the attitude of being at work and the individual contributions these two fictitious employees make.

According to a recent Gallup poll, only about 32% of employees are considered or consider themselves to be “engaged” at work — yikes! What about the other 68%? How do we get them engaged? Here are some quick tips!

Seriously, Don’t Skip (or Skimp on) Onboarding or Training.

If you do little more than describe the benefits your employees receive, show them where the water cooler is, and skim over the “culture” of your workplace, it is doubtful that you’ll have fully engaged employees. New hires are often eager to prove themselves and “hit the ground running,” but if responsibilities aren’t clearly outlined, and/or an attempt to ease them into the team they’re working with isn’t made, it is likely to lead to frustration and your newest employee feeling a lot of pressure. This is a quick path to disengagement.

Employees who have a sense of their work and expectations are more likely to be eager to meet new goals and take a sense of pride in their accomplishments. By effectively onboarding your new hires, you can avoid the nightmare that is new-hire turnover: SHRM reports that 1/3 (that’s a whopping 33%!) of new hires leave their jobs after six months!

Employers have a short window to work with to encourage employee engagement, and starting new hires off on the right foot is certainly helpful in this process. If you can successfully train and onboard employees, they’ll do a better job and also feel safer asking questions and concerns that’ll save headaches down the road. Furthermore, it’ll give the new hire the chance to bond with existing employees, which one study found to be an important factor in engagement.

Focus on Organizational Goal-Setting.

Here’s the hard part: inviting your employees to participate.

Why would you do this? Setting goals is not just something of concern to the executives of your organization — employees want to know how the work they do contributes to the larger picture, and feel they have a real impact on business outcomes.

Inviting your employees to set organizational goals on a regular basis (monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, etc.) gives everyone something to work toward, and enhances employee engagement.

Acknowledgement is Half the Battle.

Acknowledgement and praise alone don’t guarantee engagement or a high quality of work, but you can bet your bunnies that if your employees feel invisible, they’ll disengage very quickly.

Beyond making friends or at least being comfortable with your coworkers, an employee also needs to build a sense of fellowship with their employers. Even asking about a weekend trip or wishing them a pleasant evening as they exit after a hard day’s work can make a big difference. Additionally, employers should always acknowledge extra effort with a “thank you”.

Why does this matter? Gallup reports that employees who aren’t given recognition are twice as likely to quit. Turnover is a real threat in relation to employee engagement.

Offer Opportunities for Development.

As we touched upon in our previous article, professional and personal development certainly play a role in the life of any employee. While applicants may primarily be seeking the expected benefits that come with employment (salary, healthcare options, etc.), there’s also a large segment of the workforce that is seeking opportunities to advance their career and skills (Gallup found that 69% of non-millennials and an astounding 87% of millennials view development opportunities as important in their jobs!)

Most employees don’t want to repeatedly complete mundane, monotonous tasks that provide no opportunities for growth. Adding new duties to employees’ positions or challenging them to find novel solutions to potential problems, as well as offering educational assistance can enhance employee engagement and add new skills and talent to your teams.

Don’t be a Micromanager.

Micromanaging has some serious consequences — it’s time-consuming for employers, employees feel undermined and as though they’re expected to behave like robots, and it decreases morale and productivity.

Employees cannot engage with their work if they don’t have some level of autonomy to choose how to accomplish tasks. Encouraging individual contributions and creating an open channel of communication to exchange ideas leads to employees feeling trusted, respected, and in charge of their work. This leads to higher levels of engagement, and as a bonus, employees are more likely to reach out to you with questions and concerns.

Overall, employee engagement can act as a crucial driving force for business success.

So, what do you do to keep your employees engaged?

With data-driven love,
The Team at Rhabit