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What is employee engagement, really?

5/30/17 11:08 AM

What is employee engagement?

Have you noticed the term 'employee engagement' everywhere? Is it something you know you should consider, but don't know where to begin? While it seems like an endlessly trending topic, the latest Gallup State of the American Workplace report shows that an overwhelming majority of American workers are disengaged. The importance of employee engagement is imperative to any business’s success. High levels of engagement have been proven to reduce staff turnover, improve productivity and efficiency, retain customers, and increase profits. The importance of keeping your employees engaged has become more prevalent, and the change is affecting businesses across the globe. As researchers at Gallup explain, “most workers, many of whom are millennials, approach a role and a company with a highly defined set of expectations. They want their work to have meaning and purpose”. The way organizations operate is also changing, from new technology in the workplace to flexibility to how an employee works and where.

What is employee engagement, really?

Employee engagement is defined as the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. An engaged employee is one that is enthusiastic about their work and is invested in their organization's reputation and interests.


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What really is the cost of disengaged employees?

  • Only 49% of the workforce is engaged, meaning more than half of all employees are not performing as they should.
  • Engaged workers also are more likely to stay with their employers. In high-turnover organizations (such as accounting firms, quick service restaurants, etc.), those with highly engaged employees achieve 24% lower turnover. In low-turnover organizations, the gains are even more dramatic: those with highly engaged employees achieve 59% lower turnover. High-turnover organizations are those with more than 40% annualized turnover, and low-turnover organizations are those with 40% or lower annualized turnover.


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What difference can engaged employees make?

Highly engaged business units experience a 28% reduction in shrinkage (the dollar amount of unaccounted-for lost merchandise) and a 40% reduction in quality defects.

What is the goal?

It is just as important to retain top talent as it is to attract these employees. Studies such as SHRM, have found that each time a business needs to replace a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ of that salary on average, and up to 213 percent of annual salary for highly educated executive positions. To put it in perspective, a manager making $40,000 a year, that's $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses.

How do you implement an employee engagement program?

  • Incorporate a top-down commitment to engagement as an integrated part of workplace culture, rather than a temporary fix to low levels of employee morale.
  • A definition of what engagement looks like specifically to your organization and its mission.
  • A clear, concise cross-departmental understanding  of how the program will work and what should be expected of key players and employees alike.
  • The ability to easily measure and track engagement levels, and to make ongoing adjustments based on departmental and employee feedback.

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