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Contributed By Santiago Jaramillo

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Editor’s note: This post was updated in July 2017.

At this point, there’s little chance that you haven’t heard the term “employee engagement” and don’t at least have a general idea of what it means. But if you’re like most company leaders, you’re still uncertain of how to define it and use it to generate a profound impact on your business.

Well, listen up.

Forget everything you’ve heard. Forget everything you’ve assumed. Employee engagement isn’t about showering your workers with office perks to make them happier. It’s about appealing to their deep-seated motivations to draw out true engagement that produces better work, culture, and profit.

Here’s what you need to know:

employee engagement definition

Did you catch that part about “positively impact[ing] the company vision and goals?” When employees are engaged and committed to the vision and mission of the company, a subsequent path to value ensues:

 

value of employee engagement
Identify and take advantage of the benefits of employee engagement in our Executive Value Guide.

There is a direct and tangible added business benefit to organizations who invest in their employees. The stats say it best:

Conversely, disengaged employees come at a measurable cost:

Engaging your employees may not seem like your most urgent priority, but how much can you afford to lose if you let disengagement go unaddressed?

3 Steps to Creating Value with Employee Engagement

The best way to know if your employees are engaged? Ask. Employees want to feel like they have a say and a stake in the game. The thing is, surveying your employees requires more than just a once-a-year poll of arbitrary questions. To realize true value from your employee engagement, you must measure it first, then set tangible goals to improve the challenge areas that are [or will eventually] negatively affect productivity and retention. Start by developing a sound strategy and commitment to regularly gathering feedback that helps you:

  • MEASURE. Things change. People change. Even if you’ve conducted employee surveys in the past, it doesn’t mean you have an accurate picture of their engagement now. To adequately measure your employee engagement requires a combination of annual surveys, quarterly check-ins, and regular real-time polls that give you comprehensive insights on a regular basis. It’s better to understand how your employees are feeling now and implement steps for improvement than to realize there was a problem as they’re on their way out the door.
  • DIAGNOSE. Measuring employee engagement is only worthwhile if it results in actionable steps you can take to improve/maintain it. Make sure your survey is set up to diagnose and pinpoint where pain is being felt with segmented results by department, office location, role type, etc. so you can send follow-up questions to groups struggling with engagement later. For instance, if your survey results reveal there’s a problem with marketing’s sense of autonomy, follow up by asking what you can do to improve it. Employees will feel heard and have a sense of influence over their own destiny.
  • SOLVE. Beware of surveys that result in loads of data, but no real action plan. There’s no point to gathering employee feedback in the first place if it’s not going to help you improve your company productivity, revenue, and retention in the long run. Review your data to identify overarching themes that will help you create an action plan for diffusing problems and proactively engaging employees to prevent future challenges. Not a data analyst? Find an employee engagement consultant you trust to help you diagnose clear issues and develop a worthwhile employee engagement strategy to help you make better people decisions.

In today’s professional landscape, employees demand to be engaged—to have a sense of purpose and utilization in their roles that makes them feel a part of a thriving culture and company. And they’ll go somewhere else if they don’t have it. Lucky for you, what’s good for your employees is also good for your business. Don’t wait to build your employee engagement strategy for better business value. Your business depends on it.

 

 

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