Employee engagement is the care and level of emotional commitment that an employee has to their organization and their work. When employees are satisfied with their company, they are more productive, experience less burnout, and are less likely to leave the company. If a business has a high employee satisfaction rate, it will be more successful in the long term. Some organizations say they “focus on” employee engagement but, they lack the structure and purpose to meet employee expectations. Employee engagement must be purposeful and defined, especially now during the post-pandemic Great Resignation to ensure it can be measured and is making a positive impact.
According to Gallup’s 2020 study on employee engagement and performance, teams with higher employee engagement saw both a reduction in negative outcomes—like turnover and absenteeism—and a big lift in organizational success. Results showed businesses with high employee engagement experienced 23% higher profitability, 10% better customer loyalty and engagement, and 18% more sales productivity. The data supports the premise that building greater engagement among employees is well worth the investment, for every business. The result is that it leads to a healthier, more productive organization that provides better employee experiences.
The first key to achieving this level of success is developing an employee engagement strategy. This will help you define the areas to measure (this includes areas like turnover, absenteeism, productivity), goals to establish, and the tactics to improve engagement. Several tactics can be implemented to influence engagement and drive more favorable results.
Employee engagement should always start at the beginning by building a solid onboarding process. As the saying goes “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. This certainly applies here as the onboarding process is an opportune time for company leadership to make a big impression with new employees to start building trust, a sense of belonging, and a true emotional investment. The onboarding process is where you have an opportunity to make a big impact by presenting the company history and current direction, culture (which should start being communicated during the recruiting process and be consistent post-hire), learning and development opportunities, benefits, express how your company supports open communication and transparency (if you don’t already, you should be), introductions to team members, and to convey the company’s core values. Starting a new job for a new company can be daunting for new employees. It is very much like a senior going to a brand-new high school. You have invested a lot of time and energy into hiring and so you need to help them feel welcome and part of your organization right from day one. Keep in mind, that employees are also evaluating you during their first 30 days. During this time, they will decide if they are staying for the long term or not.
Another key component in creating a great first impression and successful employee experience is having the proper onboarding systems and processes in place. There is an overwhelming volume of onboarding tasks and documents to deal with during the hiring process and HR and new hires can be overwhelmed by the number of forms, approvals, and new hire data to manage. If there are too many unstructured procedures in the process it can become very challenging, especially if you are hiring several new employees simultaneously. Having the right onboarding solution will accelerate productivity for new hires and your HR team by eliminating manual processes and paper forms. By managing all onboarding tasks and gathering all new hire information online, employees can review, and complete onboarding forms, questionnaires, and HR can digitally sign and approve. More efficient for your HR team and a much more pleasant experience for your new hires.
Career development is another key tactical area to build around your employee engagement strategy. In a recent Gallup State of the American Workplace report, 87% of Millennials indicated that career growth and development opportunities provided by a job are important to them. Employees want to be happy and aligned with the work they are doing for 40+ hours each week, and they want to work for an organization that they trust, and with which they know has their best interest. Organizations that are fully invested in providing their employees with an abundance of training opportunities to expand their knowledge realize it will pay dividends in the long run by way of greater employee productivity, higher retention rates, and aspiring leaders that will be integral in future succession planning.
Investing in career development can also impact employee referrals and employee reviews. If employees feel their career development is not a priority, they’ll be reluctant to refer anyone they know and trust to apply for open positions with your company. This could result in your company missing out on connecting with some great talent to fill open positions. If employees don’t have opportunities to expand their educational progression and growth, they may leave and find work elsewhere where training opportunities are made available. This could then result in employees leaving negative reviews about your company on Glassdoor, Indeed, and on social media that your company is not invested in helping employees advance in their careers.
There are several ways you can measure employee engagement success. Some of which include implementing an employee engagement survey and engagement rating, employee performance and training participation rate, training ROI, retention/turnover rate, early turnover/onboarding process/recruiting success.
We continued this conversation about building purposeful strategies around employee engagement and employee experience in our webinar recording – Create Amazing Employee Experiences through Purposeful Employee Engagement