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Employee Engagement: What Is It Anyway?

Employee Engagement: What Is It Anyway?


    (Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two part series on employee engagement.)

    Now that the job market is improving somewhat, organizations have started to think more about retention, and the concept of “employee engagement” is being bandied about in offices across North America and Europe.  But what exactly is employee engagement, how do you know if you have it, and why should anyone care?

    Let’s begin with a simple definition. Employee engagement is a person’s degree of attachment to their company, role, and co-workers.  When employees are engaged, managers don’t have to force them to perform or monitor every task.  Rather, they are intrinsically motivated to do what’s in the best interest of the organization and can be trusted to do terrific work.

    Employee engagement is not the same thing as employee satisfaction.  The latter term was invented during the industrial age, when factory owners needed to ensure that masses of angry workers didn’t mutiny.  Satisfied employees don’t treat the organization as part of their family like engaged employees do, but they also aren’t gunning for its demise.

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    How Do You Know If People Are Engaged?

    To some extent, it’s easy to tell if an employee puts in that intangible but emotionally charged extra effort on the job.  But for those who like metrics, the good news is that there are many reliable ways to measure employee engagement.  Gallup, for one, has based its survey model on more than 30 years of in-depth behavioral economic research with 17 million employees.

    The company’s researchers identified 12 core elements, which they called the Q12, that predict employee and team performance and also link to essential business outcomes.  The questions include:

    • Do you know what is expected of you at work?
    • Do you have the materials and equipment you need to do your work right?
    • At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
    • In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
    • Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
    • Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
    • At work, do your opinions seem to count?
    • Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
    • Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
    • Do you have a best friend at work?
    • In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
    • In the last year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

    It’s easy to create a similar questionnaire to track engagement in your organization. You can ask these questions monthly, quarterly, or annually and have employees rate how much they agree or disagree on a scale of 1 to 5.

    Why Should You Care?

    It has been well demonstrated that the advantages of an engaged workforce include increased productivity, retention, and customer satisfaction.

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    Engaged firms have higher profits too.  According to the Towers Perrin Global Workforce Study, high-engagement firms grow their earnings-per-share (EPS) at a faster rate (28 percent) while low-engagement firms experienced an average EPS growth rate decline of 11.2 percent.  Likewise, HR consulting firm Hewitt Associates found that highly engaged firms had a shareholder return that was 19 percent higher than average.

    Even the organizational psychologists are singing the praises of employee engagement.  A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology claimed that resulting impact on revenue ranged from $960,000 to $1,440,000 per year per business unit when comparing those companies in the top quartile on employee engagement versus those companies in the bottom quartile.

    On the flip side of employee engagement is employee disengagement, and this presents an even bigger issue.  Before continuing with the discussion of disengagement, let’s characterize three types of employees:

    Actively engaged: These employees are always looking for ways to improve and work more efficiently.  They go above and beyond the call of duty to exceed expectations so that the company is more successful.

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    Not actively engaged: These employees show up to work and do their jobs, and leave as soon as the clock strikes 5PM.  They may be happy enough with their work, but have no desire to excel or help take the organization to new heights.

    Actively disengaged:  These employees are holding a grudge against the organization and look to undermine it at every turn.  They are the most dangerous because their negative attitude is contagious and can result in very real performance and morale problems.

    In the U.S., the estimated cost of disengagement in the workplace, which includes the actively disengaged and the not actively engaged, is over $350 billion in lost productivity, accidents, theft and turnover each year.  Gallup recently found that approximately 71 percent of American workers are not actively engaged or actively disengaged.

    When you consider these numbers, it’s no surprise that the majority of employees would be happy to leave their current organizations if a better opportunity presented itself.  And this is going to be expensive.  According to Ross Blake in his article Employee Retention: What Employee Turnover Really Costs Your Company, talent replacement costs an organization between 30 and 50 percent of the annual salary of entry-level employees, 150 percent of middle-level employees and up to 400 percent for specialized, high level employees.

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    Hopefully you’re now convinced of the need to address employee engagement with a fresh eye.  Later this month, we’ll explore some ways managers can improve team member engagement.

    (Photo credit: Business Engaged via Shutterstock)

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    Published on December 18, 2018

    How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out

    How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out

    You’ve been in business for years and have finally hit your plateau.

    The tactics you’d implemented for your customers aren’t working as they’ve used to. You feel like your business has fallen out of the spotlight and now you’d have to settle for any business you get. It’s how businesses work, right?

    The truth is that some brands will fade off the business world–while others will adapt well and continue to grow. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for where your business currently stands. After all, you’d kept applying tactics that provided predictable results.

    Instead, decide to not settle for average results and spend more time building your brand. To make your business stand out from your competition, you need to be unforgettable. But how can you?

    In this article, I’ll cover timeless tactics that have worked for other businesses. If you apply these tactics correctly your competition won’t be able to copy them. Here’s how to brand yourself and make your business stand out:

    1. Win Your Audience’s Hearts with Authenticity

    The truth has always shined.

    Even without the technology we have today, people always had a way of finding out if someone was lying. And, with everyone engaging in social media today, it’s hard to hide from the truth. Yet, this seems to be what many businesses fail to do.

    For example, companies like Listerine have been fined for lying.[1] A quick buck today won’t be worth it in the long run. Instead, practice being authentic to your customers and they’ll eventually rely on you.

    Allow your customers to buy your products with a money-back guarantee – then deliver on your promise. Be consistent with the content you provide and stay true to your brand.

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    For example, if you provide coaching services for entrepreneurs, don’t sponsor irrelevant brands. If you stop caring about your brand’s mission, your audience will notice. They’ll question your integrity with your business and stop trusting your brand.

    But if you gain your customer’s trust, you’ll start standing out from your competition. Your customers will feel safe purchasing from you since they’ll know you’re honest.

    2. Share a Story No One Will Be Able to Copy

    A few decades ago, a brand would’ve gotten away without being unique. That’s because back then starting a business was not accessible to most people. You’d either need enough money to launch your business or have the credentials. And even if you had all these qualifications, you needed to get past the gatekeepers.

    Today, technology has disrupted many of the barriers that were present a few decades ago. For example, today a college student can launch a Podcast within a week. He can create a website in a few hours and record a few Podcast episodes. If he’s persistent, he can build a large following overtime and get paid by sponsors.

    This is great news for aspiring entrepreneurs but there’s more competition than ever. You can only do so much before other businesses begin to copy you. But what no business can copy is your story.

    That’s why you need to share your story with your audience.

    For example, if you have a money blog, share how you’ve overcome your financial struggles. If you run a freelance writing business, share how you’ve overcome writer’s block. The more your audience can relate to you the better.

    Without a story, your business won’t stand out. And if you copy what’s working for other businesses, you’ll experience short-term success.

    Take some time to share your story with the world, your audience will love you more for it.

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    3. Stop Reinventing Every Single Thing

    “Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.” – Anthony J.D’angelo

    You may have heard that being original is the way to stand out. While this is true to an extent, you also shouldn’t be original when something is already working.

    For example, if your competition has a successful Podcast in your field, then so can you. Don’t search for better alternatives to a Podcast if it’s already working.

    Why?

    Because this is a waste of time. Instead, copy what’s already working and make it your own.[2] If your competition has a Podcast, figure out which areas you can improve and tailor it around your brand.

    Knowing this you can now spy on your competition and determine which areas you can improve. But, know that it also works the other way around. Others will view your business and copy what’s working for you.

    That’s why it’s important to stay true to your brand and be authentic with your audience. When you do, your competition won’t be able to copy your unique traits. Have an abundant mindset and feel confident for what your business has to offer.

    4. Shine Because of Your Uniqueness

    Stop trying to help the entire world and focus on helping a specific group of people instead.

    I get it, you’re willing to help almost everyone because you want to bring in more business. But the truth is that if you resonate with everyone, you resonate with no one.

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    Take, for example, a marketing agency that helps businesses promote their product. This business doesn’t speak to anyone but gets occasional sales throughout the year.

    But what if there was a similar marketing agency dedicated to helping real estate agents? If there was a real estate agent looking for help in marketing–who do you think they’ll choose? That’s why niching down is necessary if you hope to stand out from your competition.

    Determine which customers you enjoy working with the most and determine which customers bring in the most revenue. Once you’ve gathered enough data, focus on servicing your ideal customer.

    Don’t expect immediate results since this won’t be an easy transition. If you’re currently helping a narrow audience, slowly transition into a niche audience. Niching down is crucial to building raving fans.

    5. Be the Brand Everyone Can Depend On

    Being the brand your customers can depend on is important. How many times have you bought a product that’s failed on its promise? Or have settled for an average service?

    Exceeding your customer’s expectations is a sure way to make your brand stand out. In the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, studies on human psychology prove that when you give to others, they’ll reciprocate. Offer your customers free consulting, a free ebook, or free quality content. Eventually, they’ll be happy to reciprocate after receiving value from you.

    View what your competition is doing and surpass their offers. For example, if your competition offers a free 15-minute consulting call, offer 30 minutes. When you focus on helping others more, your customers will notice.

    Make it your mission to serve your customers first and then worry about making a profit. Other ways for your business to be reliable is by inspiring your customers. That’s right, a business isn’t only about selling, it’s also helping customers achieve their goals.

    For example, you can write content that will inspire your audience to take action. You can interview guests that will push your audience to break bad habits. Get creative and look for more ways in which your audience can depend on you with.

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    The Bottom Line

    Imagine serving fewer customers and getting paid more than ever.

    Despite the fierce competition, you’ve got fans wanting to buy your products and services. Although this may seem impossible right now, it’s not. If other brands have been able to stand out in a crowded industries, why can’t yours?

    The truth is that standing out from your competition isn’t easy. There’s no secret formula that’s available to the rest of the world. The trick is to do what most brands are unwilling to do.

    Many businesses don’t want to niche down because this will mean a loss in sales. But that’s sacrificing short-term gains for long-term success. Niching down is necessary to build a brand your customers will love.

    Many businesses will spend a lot of money looking for ways to innovate, but won’t apply what’s working. But, not you.

    You’ve got what it takes to stand out from your competition. Start slowly and master each principle covered here. Now go and make your business stand out like never before.

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    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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