At ElevatePoint, we love employee engagement. It’s a topic we write about frequently – enough to win an engagement award. It’s a topic we talk about frequently, too. We think about it. We implement intranets and intranet services to improve it.
We have a lot of passion for engagement. And we know, we’re “preaching to the choir.” Communications and HR professionals are dying to get employee engagement to become a company priority. But most executives aren’t prioritizing it. In fact, The Muse indicates 90% of leaders think an engagement strategy helps their business, but only 25% have a strategy.
It’s time to change that. The best employee engagement idea is to make it a priority.
“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek, the author of “Start With Why.”
Benefits of employee engagement
We often write about the benefits employee engagement has on organizations. Employee engagement is the lifeline to organizational success. Improved employee engagement increases safety, security, customer service, productivity, quality and driving down costs.
Big picture, this is what engagement, or lack thereof, will do for your organization:
- Dale Carnegie indicates that organizations that have highly engaged employees outperform those disengaged ones by 202%.
- Highly engaged businesses see a 20% increase in sales.
- Gallup says that engagement leads to as much as 21% better business profitability.
- Disengaged employees cost businesses as much $500 billion every year, according to The Engagement Institute.
Yet employee engagement is in trouble
Employee engagement is urgently important, but it’s suffering. According to the Muse, 70% of employees aren’t engaged at work. If you’re in the UK, bad news – Gallup says British workers are 89% disengaged; only 11% are truly engaged.
Sorry to be the bearer of more bad news, but there’s a shortage of workers. Of course, some industries are worse than others. Some locations also have it worse than others. In Denver, ElevatePoint’s headquarters, unemployment is hovering a little under 4%. Recruiters are in full swing. They’re proactively calling workers to fill job openings. That means your employees – as disengaged as they are – are dreaming of greener pastures at other companies and are more likely to accept another job. It makes retention harder.
Why is unemployment low and recruiting rates high? Baby Boomers – the largest generation of workers – are retiring and not enough younger workers are joining the market to fill their positions. Also, organizations were waiting until after the Great Recession before growing and hiring. The economy is chugging again, and workers are needed.
And yet more bad news – attracting employees is more difficult if your employees aren’t engaged. Disengaged employees are spreading the word to friends and associates, by word of mouth and also through websites like Glassdoor, that your workplace has issues.
The sorry state of engagement should be an impetus to improve engagement and make it a priority so you can keep great employees, skilled workers and recruit.
“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” — Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup
Drivers of employee engagement
So … what’s the issue at your workplace? You may have several. As above, it starts with strategy. But you can be sure you’ll have issues if you aren’t doing any of the following:
- Support your managers through programs, such as training and mentoring. 70% of employee engagement, Gallup says, is up to individual managers. Great managers inspire a happy workforce. Bad managers drive employees away.
- Provide opportunities employees to connect with coworkers online and in person. The more remote and desk-less workers you have, the more important it is to provide these opportunities indicates Gallup.
- Help fulfill employees’ passion and purpose. People want meaningful work, where they understand their contribution and feel good about that. They want to be appreciated. They want to use their strengths. Make sure people understand why they’re working for your organization. Are you saving lives? Why does your organization matter in the larger scheme?
- Enable productivity. Although this seems tool-based, it goes beyond applications such as intranets. Get your employees involved in providing that feedback and then act on it.
“Paychecks can’t buy passion.” – Brad Federman
Here’s where you come in
Earlier, we indicated we were preaching to the choir. We know. But it’s time to act.
If you have a mid-year budget or slightly after mid-year, you may have an opportunity to address engagement soon. If you review initiatives at the end of the year, keep employee engagement in mind and address it. Either way, you need to “sell” this as an initiative to your executives. You’re in the trenches. You know the problem that your executives may not be able to see.
How do you sell it? We have ideas on how to do that: Get an Executive to Yes. Bottom line, get data and a coalition to understand the full scope of the problem and use your coalition to help build your case. Don’t forget to talk with a champion, an executive who is like-minded; he or she might be able to give you some ideas and pointers.
If you have an employee engagement survey planned, do it. But if you don’t, there are other statistics you can use as well:
- Turnover rate
- Costs associated with turnover, averaging about $50,000 per person
- Sick days usage or unexpected paid-time off (PTO)
- Benefits use, especially around Employee Assistance Program
- Managers who’ve been through your programs
- Employee relations issues that make it to HR, with anecdotal information
- Recruiting costs
- Organizational success metrics, especially around missed goals
Employee engagement is everything
Employee engagement doesn’t just matter – it’s everything to organizations. It should have the same urgency that your security or cost-related initiatives have. It should encompass everything that your organization does and how it does it – from culture and brand to onboarding and terminations and even recruiting.
Although internal communicators and HR professionals can’t completely change an organization, they can lead the charge. Your organization and your employees are depending on you.
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen R. Covey
If you’re looking for ideas on how to create a strategy and which levers may make the biggest impact, download our employee engagement guide.