Written by Donna Bonfield | 3rd May 2022

It’s proven that when engaged, employees are more productive, loyal and committed, which has a direct link to business productivity and success.

So what’s the truth about employee engagement? Is there an answer that works for everyone?

Here we look at what employee engagement means and what you need to think about as an employer.

What is employee engagement?

This seems like an easy question but in reality many managers measure the wrong thing. Employee engagement isn’t just showing up consistently or even doing a job well. Those employees are good workers (don’t get us wrong, you want good workers) but are they truly engaged workers?

Employee engagement is how well an employee is actively engaged with their role on a daily basis. Fully engaged employees care about your company’s mission, future success, and have an interest in how they can contribute to this.

In a report from WorkBuzz, 31% of UK businesses with office-based and remote employees saw engagement decline last year. The assumption is that the pandemic has given workers the time to reflect on whether they are happy or not in their jobs, and many are recognising that they aren’t satisfied with their role, the opportunities open to them, how they’re looked after (or not) and their work-life balance.

For managers, the reality is that engagement is not a one-size fits all – it’s a personal thing. You have to fully understand each of your employees to find out what engages them in order to make the right workplace changes.

Elements of employee engagement

There are many different elements that come into play when we talk about employee engagement, but here are six to consider.

Communication

Communication is a good start and employees want to be communicated with openly, honestly and in a timely manner.

Engaged employees also understand the big picture and how they fit into it. A clearly communicated mission, vision and core values give employees something to focus on. If employees feel like a part of something bigger than themselves, they are much more likely to go above and beyond to contribute.

Sustainability is especially important today for a lot of employees and will effect their decision to leave, or join a company. Any goals and initiatives like this need to be fully communicated to your people.

Rewards and recognition

You just can’t have strong employee engagement without rewards and recognition. It’s one of the biggest boosters to motivation and satisfaction, and can change your company culture.

There are different ways to approach it, whether through constant verbal recognition, or even a rewards programme. Whatever you choose, you can’t let good work go unnoticed – ensure your team has something waiting for them when they reach their goals.

Proper rewards and recognitions can further motivate them to achieve more and more for the organisation. Motivation and engagement go hand in hand.

Loyalty

Employees who are engaged in their work show more loyalty towards the business.

Loyal employees not only work hard for their pay, but they are committed to the success of your company. More often than not, they prioritise the company’s interests and are always looking to develop in their role.

Good management is critical for building employee loyalty. According to research by Gallup, 70% of an employee’s motivation is influenced by their manager. Employees are likely to create a good relationship with a leader they trust, who genuinely cares about their development and wellbeing and takes time to listen.

Learning and development

The opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge is so important to ambitious employees. New projects and responsibilities to challenge your employees will keep them on their toes. Keep your employees engaged by finding out how they’d like to develop in the business and work with them to identify opportunities for growth in that direction.

Trust

Trust needs to be present between employee and manager in order for engagement to improve and one way to do this is by giving employees more autonomy. It’s your job to lead from the front, but it’s also important at times to give your team responsibility for a task or project. For employees to feel passionate about their work and strive for the best outcome, they need to know that the company values their skills and experience.

Performance

Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. People who perform well feel good about themselves and where they work. But like any team, they need managers who can provide honest feedback. Praising your employees is great, but you should also offer constructive feedback to improve performance

Likewise, managing employee performance needs to be a two way process – listening to what your staff say about you and the company is so important.

The reality of employee engagement is that employees are engaged by different things. Use surveys, 1:1’s, and other feedback to focus on what your employees need to feel fulfilled in their role.

Look out for the next blogs in this series where we look at why it is important for managers to motivate and engage their teams and practical steps you can take to achieve this.

For advice or to talk about our bespoke employee engagement programmes, contact our team at [email protected].