What Is Employee Engagement and Why Should I Care?
Don’t employees come to work for a paycheck? Don’t they simply do what they’re told and get the job done? Why do I have to worry about how much they like working? A job is a job. Why should we care if employees are “engaged”? Isn’t employee engagement just another business catch phrase in a long list of business catch phrases? Does it really matter?
We’ve all had managers that think this way. If we’re completely honest, we may BE a manager who thinks this way. The fact is, however, that employee engagement does matter. It impacts employee retention, which, in turn, impacts the effectiveness of your company. Connected, engaged employees are loyal and less likely to have accidents, call off or leave altogether, improving productivity and profitability.
Employee engagement also impacts customer service. Less engaged employees do not provide customer service that goes above and beyond the expected. They tend to exert the least amount of effort possible in order to get the job done. Customers notice. They love an amazing consumer experience that is consistent with every employee they come in contact with. Quality customer service leads to increased customer loyalty – and we all know it costs less to keep a happy customer than to find a new one!
Finally, employee engagement impacts the way employees view management. Employees who are not engaged tend to see management as greedy, self-serving and egotistical. They focus more on what they perceive to be poor management and less on the mission and vision of the company. Management teams of dis-engaged employees have a tough time generating momentum, growth and innovation.
So we know why we should care, but what exactly IS employee engagement? Let’s start with what it is NOT. Employee engagement does not equate to employee happiness. They are not the same. Engaged employees can be unhappy and happy employees can be dis-engaged. Engaged employees are connected to their work and the company for which they work. They understand the goals of the organization and how their role affects the achievement of those goals. They value meaningful work and the ability to contribute productively to the overall mission of their workplace. This means, they must have a clear understanding of the mission and goals of the company, as well as how their success helps the company meet or exceed those goals. Communication is key, not happiness or financial reward or even company culture.
The bottom line is that employee engagement greatly affects your company’s bottom line. It’s not a one-time initiative, but rather a long-term continuous process of communicating company goals and how each employee contributes to the achievement of those goals. Improved employee engagement leads to increased productivity and what manager doesn’t want that?