When employees have an emotional tie to your organization, they’re better motivated to help you succeed.

When your full-time employees are spending at least 40 hours per week in the workplace, it’s fair to say that work plays a significant role in their lives. Naturally, their work environment has a big impact on their success, well-being, and whether or not they’re actually engaged at all. But what is employee engagement exactly? And how much does it really matter?

Business owners are increasingly recognizing the importance of engagement. Still, despite a rise in engaged employees, Gallup reports that 53% of employees remain disengaged from their work and workplace—and 13% more cite themselves as miserable in their jobs. This means there’s ample opportunity for you to stand out for employees and keep the best talent on your team.

We’ll dive into what employee engagement looks like and how it can benefit you below.

What is employee engagement?

The basic definition of employee engagement is the level of commitment that a team member feels in regards to your business and their work. It goes beyond employee satisfaction, which mainly covers how happy team members are, and looks at the emotional connection that employees feel when they think about your brand and goals.

Looking at the level of engagement gives you insight into how likely your team members are to stay and put their best effort into their work. Some examples of actions that engaged employees may take include:

  • Sharing your brand and products on social media
  • Volunteering to work overtime when a project needs it
  • Going above and beyond with any task they are given

As you may see, someone who is engaged will be more willing to go the extra mile, even if they’re not getting a reward each time. This is called discretionary effort. An engaged workforce makes the extra effort because they know they will have a positive impact on the organization as a whole. They’re aligned with the company and motivated to support it.

The Benefits of Employee Engagement

The benefits of employee engagement aren’t just felt by business owners—they’re proven by data. High levels of engagement can lead to a 41% decrease in absenteeism, as well as increases in sales, profits, and productivity. The same study shows that engagement can lead to a 10% increase in customer reviews, too. This is in part because engaged team members are inspired to provide great service and motivated to collect reviews, driving better business outcomes for you.

On the flip side, a disengaged employee will cost you 34% of their yearly salary. Even losing the engagement of a few team members can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars lost. If your company is faced with poor engagement levels, you’ll end up saddled with the extra costs of turnover and slower project completion rates.

How to Measure Employee Engagement

Many business owners may believe their employees are engaged when team members are actually passive or even have negative feelings toward your company. In order to get the most accurate look at how much improvement is needed for your employee engagement strategy, you need a way to measure and track how team members view their workplace.

Many business owners send out a quarterly employee engagement survey. Through this survey, team members can give anonymous, numerical ratings (ex: scale of 1-10) to help you get data that you can compare to look for trends. Here are a few questions you may include:

  • How likely are you to recommend our workplace to your peers?
  • Do you believe you experience professional growth with us?
  • Do you feel like you and your coworkers effectively collaborate?
  • Do you have a positive relationship with your supervisor?
  • How strong is communication within your team?

All of the questions you include should address at least one of the major drivers of engagement, which include feelings of purpose, trust in the organization and in peers, competency, and fairness.

When using a numerical scale, you should always aim for scores of at least seven, though the most actively engaged organizations will have average ratings of 9-10.

4 Causes of Disengagement

If you look at your survey results and realize disengagement is present, it’s important to consider why people are disengaged with their jobs in the first place. Before you set up your employee engagement strategy, think about how these four common problems may be affecting your business.

1. Lack of growth opportunities

If your employees don’t feel that they are benefiting from your organization beyond their salary, this can discourage them from putting in 100% of their effort. Even if you’re unable to provide immediate opportunities for career advancement, your team members should be at least feel like they’re learning and receiving the support they need to grow.

Creating growth opportunities may come in the form of sponsoring conferences and training or even an in-house mentorship program. This will also increase employees’ feelings of competency, which has a direct effect on engagement.

2. Boredom

Boredom is known to be a top indicator of disengagement. This is because it can quickly decrease morale and lead to complete apathy about your organization. Employees want to feel not only useful but also challenged. They want to be able to contribute, while not having to run through the same tasks every single day. Though keeping recurring tasks may be simple, your employees will be most engaged when they get opportunities to work on new, interesting projects, especially if they’re able to take the lead.

3. Lack of recognition

Engaged employees don’t always need recognition to do the right thing, but in order to get people engaged and keep them there, you’ll need to show them that they matter. Team members will only see the value of going above and beyond if they feel motivated by their managers and peers. Three quarters of employees are satisfied with a simple thank you do their efforts, so if you’re not giving at least that much, your survey results may show low engagement.

4. Poor communication

If you don’t message your employees about important updates or encourage collaboration across a team, your employees may feel out of the loop or unsure what their goals are at all. This disconnect from your company culture and their own work can lead to rapid decreases in commitment. Employee engagement often depends on positive work relationships, which help build trust.

Implementing engagement initiatives like team-building activities can help you get on the same page. Team dynamics can transform a person’s experience, making a real impact on how much a person feels connected to their work.

Increase Employee Engagement

As a leader in your business, one of your goals should always be to better your level of employee engagement—or maintain it if you get positive feedback on employee surveys. The people you hire directly influence your efficiency and profit, so keeping them motivated ultimately improves your bottom line. Happy, engaged employees also make your business a better place to work, something everyone can appreciate.

As you begin developing your strategy, consider what tools can help you keep your team members connected with your business. To start, learn how to boost employee engagement with internal communication tools that truly make a difference.

Matt Boyce
Matt Boyce Head of SMB Marketing

Matt Boyce is a marketing and business professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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