In today’s competitive job market, where employees have more choices than ever before (gig workers make up 36% of the workforce in the United States), businesses need to be innovative to attract and retain top talent. While traditional benefits like health insurance are important, what employees truly desire is the opportunity for professional development and growth. This is where employee engagement comes in.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is the level of an employee’s commitment and connection to their work and their company. It boils down to how invested they are in their role and the successful business outcomes of the organization they work for. Engaged employees show up for far more than a paycheck.

Why does Employee Engagement Matter?

Employee engagement is akin to that show on Netflix that you spent your entire 3-day weekend watching. At the end of each episode, you couldn’t help but play the next one in eager anticipation of how the story would continue to unfold. You sat in place for practically 72 straight hours watching all 8 seasons of the best show ever. You were invested, you couldn’t stop watching, and when it was over, you felt bereft.

Being engaged at work feels the same. When you love the work you’re doing and the place you’re doing it at, then you can’t help but start each new week with excitement and those “Sunday Scaries” never rarely overcome you.

Engagement creates a stronger sense of job satisfaction and fosters a feeling that every day is a new season – and you’re looking forward to tomorrow.

The Dangers of Disengaged Employees

According to the latest Gallup poll, nearly 51% of employees self-report feeling disengaged in the workplace, with 13% feeling actively disengaged, aka utterly miserable. Though, on the bright side, that is down from 2017, where 85% of respondents reported feeling disengaged in their engagement surveys.

Apart from the more obvious effects such as lack of employee productivity and the spread of negativity among teammates, the dangers of a disengaged team in the workplace are numerous. Negative consequences of lack of employee engagement include:

      • High Turnover: One of the biggest issues of low employee engagement is employee retention. Disengaged and dissatisfied employees are more likely to seek new jobs more frequently. When you have multiple employees like this, it may cause an increase in training and recruitment costs.
      • Negative Workplace Culture: Engagement often goes hand-in-hand with employee motivation and satisfaction, and when there is a generalized lack of this in the organization, it is felt at every level. No one wants to work with someone who dislikes their job. Dissatisfied employees bring the atmosphere down. If left unchecked for too long, the overall company culture may suffer.
      • Poor Customer Service: Disengaged employees lack enthusiasm for providing a strong customer experience and may not invest themselves as strongly in ensuring customer satisfaction.
      • Lack of Innovation: When an employee feels disengaged, they are less likely to speak up, contribute ideas, or go the extra mile for their job. Overall, this may hinder growth and organizational success.

Engaged Employees Don’t Just Happen, They are Developed

Think about the rock star employee at your organization – you know the one I mean – the one you wish you could clone. They are passionate, productive, and contribute significantly to the company’s success. If you only had 27 of them, your employee problems would be over. Unfortunately, these types of employees don’t just appear out of thin air. Employee engagement is a two-way street and needs to be specifically developed.

Engagement is fostered when leadership deliberately creates a company culture of personal growth and professional growth that motivates their team to give their best work every day. So, how do you create this kind of work environment? Through a deliberate employee engagement strategy, of course!

Essentials of Employee Engagement Training

1. Conduct Employee Experience Research

It is imperative that organizations keep an active check on employee engagement levels before they reach a point of no return. This can be done through employee surveys and other pulse checks, such as:

      • Regular pulse surveys
      • Employee satisfaction surveys
      • Performance reviews
      • Employee feedback

Ultimately, the key drivers of employee engagement are effective communication, employee recognition, continuous improvement and development opportunities.

2. Offer Employee Development & Training

Speaking of development opportunities, one of the best (and easiest) means of fostering an environment of engagement for your team is through a variety of training initiatives. Here are some quick tips:

      • Move beyond compliance training. Ditch the boring, recorded lectures and offer interactive, instructor-led training that addresses specific skill gaps.
      • Upskill your workforce. Does your accounting team need to improve their Excel skills? Could your marketing team use a refresh in the latest software to create stunning collateral? Provide training!
      • Invest in your leaders. Equip managers with the necessary leadership and soft skills training to effectively manage their teams.
      • Support your high performers. Offer ongoing leadership development opportunities, like conferences and certifications, to further elevate your top talent.

Benefits of Employee Engagement

The benefits of employee engagement are clear. An engaged employee is a satisfied employee, and a company full of satisfied employees is a successful company.

According to Gallup, companies that invest in training and development see an 18% increase in productivity and a 23% increase in profitability. When employees feel that their development matters to their company, they experience greater engagement levels.

What are you waiting for? Sign your employees up for training now.