Employee engagement and company growth

There is a lot of talk about employee engagement these days. It is a term that was coined and became popular in management theory in the 1990s. With business growth, the number one objective for most businesses in 2019, engaged employees are the number one asset in driving that. Employee wellbeing and engagement go hand in hand. When people are well they do well and excel in whatever they focus on.

Employee engagement is defined as “the level of an employee’s psychological investment in their organisation .” The ‘Trends in Global Employee Engagement Study’ measures employee engagement with a “Say, Stay, Strive” model . Employees are asked if they:

  • Say positive things about their organisation
  • Plan to Stay there for a long time
  • Are motivated to Strive to give their best to help the company succeed

Different studies place employee engagement anything from 15 (Gallup Report Global average) to 60 percent (Aon, 2018, Trends In Global Employee Engagement, Average in Europe).

An “engaged employee” is defined as one who is fully enthusiastic about and absorbed by their work and as a result, takes positive action to further their organisation’s interests.

Broadly speaking, engagement-wise, employees fit into three categories:

Engaged: Employees who work with passion and feel connected to their company. They are drivers of innovation and growth.

Not engaged: Employees are not present – they are working to the clock and without energy or enthusiasm. They may be doing the bare minimum or a little more but are not working at capacity.

Disengaged: Employees are unhappy at work and use this to undermine what their engaged colleagues do. They damage morale, productivity, and reputation.

Engagement has various components:

  • Employee’s personal resources – an employee’s mindset is a key aspect of engagement. How they see themselves and how they want to be in the world has a big impact on how they engage everywhere they go. The ultimate resource is a person’s resourcefulness and employees that have high personal resourcefulness will bring that to work.
  • Their perception of the importance of their work: This factor is shown to be highly significant in terms of employee loyalty and customer service.

Other factors that influence engagement include:

  • Clarity regarding job expectations and good general communications – For optimal engagement, expectations should be clear and employees should be given what they need to do their job and be clear on what is happeing generally
  • Career progress / promotional opportunities – can be very motivating
  • Regular feedback and discussion with higher-ups – People like to know where they are going and what is and isn’t working
  • Relationships at work – The biggest factor here is a positive relationship with their boss. Relationships with other team members matter too. If people have a best friend at work, they are much more likely to be engaged at work.
  • Inspirational leadership and organisational values are highly motivating when they are truly lived.
  • A good Corporate social responsibility program in which employees are volunteering at or through work also boosts engagement.

Having a good work-life balance and integration at the individual level is interestingly shown as a predictor for a highly engaged workforce. When people feel they can balance work, family and personal matters, they are more likely to engage wholeheartedly and freely. Programmes that help employees achieve this balance in practical terms (i.e. parenting programmes and related support and employee wellbeing programmes that target what affects engagement) are thus gaining traction and proving effective in terms of productivity and profits. When people are given help they are more likely to be dedicated and go the extra mile.

Engagement happens when people are focussed by mind and connected by heart to what they are doing.