Why initiatives to improve employee engagement should be top priority

Stuart Sinclair - March 31, 2020

When it comes to running a business, it’s often easy to be distracted by the figures and to focus on infrastructures that improve your clients’ experiences. However, what is too often overlooked is how your employees are engaging with the company and whether you’re actively promoting a positive work environment.  

Research has shown that a staggering 61% of the UK working population admits to being unengaged at work. Not only is an unengaged employee less likely to be driven to perform well or beyond their role, but they are also unlikely to advocate for your company, both internally and externally, impacting negatively on other employee’s productivity, the company’s throughput and in turn your bottom line.

What is employee engagement?

Whilst we have discussed what employee engagement is in depth in a previous article here, put simply, improving employee engagement involves creating a positive working environment in which your employees feel able to do their best work - an engaged workforce is more than just a happy workforce.

Read next: The best employee engagement ideas and insights

30 ideas to engage your employees and transform your business.

Unengaged vs. engaged employees

Recognising whether your employees are engaged or unengaged, unfortunately, isn’t as simple as assessing whether they appear to be happy or not. An unengaged employee can seem to be happy in their role, but still not feel motivated to excel or show enthusiasm for the company and can become misaligned with its culture. Whilst an engaged employee will go above and beyond to ensure that their best work is done, an unengaged employee or team is likely to exhibit low productivity levels and be unwilling to go beyond what they feel is the basic requirements of their role, to further the success of the company.

Unengaged teams can also result in poor retention levels, meaning that more time and resource will need to be spent on recruiting and training new employees, which, in itself, can be difficult. If you do not have a culture in place where an individual feel that they are appreciated and encouraged to excel, then you put yourself at risk of becoming less appealing to potential new recruits.

It’s not all doom and gloom though - an employee that feels fully engaged with a company is your greatest advocate. If an employee feels that their voice is valued, and feels a sense of community within a company, they will take pride in their work, feel a duty toward ensuring the success of the company, and be empowered to do their best to help it achieve its goals. Investing in initiatives to improve employee engagement and in your people, encouraging them to engage with the company and share in your triumphs is key to your company’s success.

Why now?

With millennials and post-millennials set to make up at least 50% of the workforce in 2020, it has never been more important to implement strategies to Improve employee engagement. With the change in workforce, comes a shift in professional priorities and expectations. Today’s employees want to work for a company that prioritises their wellbeing and has a culture that they can align themselves to. Initiatives to improve employee Engagement are moving higher on organisation's agenda each year.

The days of salaries being the most important factor when it comes to looking for a job, are fast becoming a thing of the past. Potential and existing employees are increasingly looking to their employers to provide them with an engaging community, a healthy work-life balance and a platform to share their thoughts and ideas on, not just a pay cheque at the end of each month. If a potential or existing employee feels that a company is unable to offer or facilitate the type of support and development that they are looking for, then that company puts itself at risk of becoming unappealing to potential employees, as well as its existing workforce. Investing resources into embedding infrastructures and initiatives to establish yourself as an engaged employer, has become an increasingly important step in ensuring the continued growth of your company.

Investing in people

Whilst it’s easy to see the shift in focus of potential or existing employees’ expectations as a challenge to overcome, perhaps it is better viewed as an opportunity to improve your company’s profitability, productivity, employee retention and client perception.

As a company, your people are your greatest asset, and taking the time to invest and recognise ways in which to improve their working life, can only result in benefits for the company as a whole. Investing in and promoting employee engagement not only benefits the employee, but also greatly benefits the entire company. Investing time and money now into creating an environment where employees feel empowered, nourished and heard will inevitably save you money in the future.

The stats

When it comes to assessing the impact that investing in employee engagement could have on your company, the figures speak for themselves. Research shows that:

  • highly engaged teams are 21% more profitable than teams that feel unengaged from their company
  • employees who feel listened to and empowered are 4.6 times more likely to feel motivated to perform their best work
  • 89% of employees, that work at companies where wellbeing initiatives are supported, are more likely to recommend their company to potential employees
  • 96% of employees feel that empathy from an employer would greatly improve employee retention
  • Companies that have in excess of 50% employee engagement retain more than 80% of their customers

Facilitating change

The value of creating an environment where employees feel appreciated and listened to cannot be underestimated, and when it comes to taking steps to improve your employee engagement, the question is no longer ‘if’ but ‘when’. More and more businesses are turning to employee engagement apps to help them to better connect and communicate with their employees, providing the perfect platform for organic engagement and interaction. To learn more about implementing employee engagement in your company, read our handy guide here.

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Links to ref for stat's:

https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236366/right-culture-not-employee-satisfaction.aspx

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2019/01/16/10-timely-statistics-about-the-connection-between-employee-engagement-and-wellness/#21e5549122a0

https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/the-millennial-workplace-of-future-is-almost-here-these-3-things-are-about-to-change-big-time.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2019/01/16/10-timely-statistics-about-the-connection-between-employee-engagement-and-wellness/#21e5549122a0

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2019/01/16/10-timely-statistics-about-the-connection-between-employee-engagement-and-wellness/#21e5549122a0

https://www.n2growth.com/how-employee-engagement-drives-customer-satisfaction/