What Is Employee Engagement?

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Nowadays, there are a number of terms to describe, well, everything. There’s FOMO, or fear of missing out.

There’s YOLO, or you only live once. Okay, maybe these are more along the lines of internet slang.

But either way, there are a lot of new definitions that can be difficult to keep track of. Especially when those terms get thrown around in the workplace.

You’ve heard of employee engagement, right? Well, what exactly do you think employee engagement is?

What is employee engagement

There’s actually a lot of misconceptions when it comes to this question. Some people think it’s rather self-explanatory, as in, your employees are engaged.

But there’s so much more to it than just that. If you’re reading this, you’re likely invested in your employees and they’re engagement.

So you’re already a step ahead. But if you want to become a true master of employee engagement, then, by all means, keep reading.

Employee engagement definition

So, we already teased that employee engagement definitions can be difficult to tackle. But we’ll provide you a single definition that’s as simple as possible.

Employee engagement can be chalked up to employees’ mental and emotional connection to the work, the team, and the organization. See?

Not so complicated. But employee engagement is not job satisfaction.

This is where things can get tricky. But again, being the generous folks that we are, we’ll try to break it down for you in as simple terms as possible.

What employee engagement gets mistaken for

Just as a reminder, employee engagement about the emotional connection employees feel towards their jobs, organizations, and work. Now let’s see what employee engagement often gets mistaken for.

Employee satisfaction

Satisfied employees are happy and content with their job. And that’s great!

But employee satisfaction doesn’t necessarily relate to their level of motivation and involvement within the company. Some employees are simply happy to collect a paycheck while doing as little work as possible.

Sure, that’s called employee satisfaction. But it really has nothing to do with their discretionary effort.

Employee wellbeing

The wellbeing of your employees is absolutely important. But employee wellbeing refers more to their personal lives rather than their professional ones.

Now, if you offer resources to increase their wellbeing at work, employee engagement could likely go up. But the two concepts should not be interchangeable.

Employee happiness

Happiness can be a fleeting thing. So even if an employee is happy, they may not be the engaged employee you’re hoping for.

It’s one thing to be the class clown of the break room. It’s another to instigate humorous rapport while also getting the job done.

Various levels of employee engagement

It’s always a good idea to measure employee engagement at your office. But if you’re not sure how to start, consider looking around the office to see where exactly your employees stand.

Highly engaged employees

Highly engaged employees will, in simple terms, love their employee experience. Engaged employees lead others to put their best efforts forward.

And they tend to be on track towards becoming the senior leaders or direct supervisors of the entire organization. Their opinion of the company is incredibly high.

Look at your current employee engagement levels to determine future employee engagement initiatives

And they’re willing to put the extra effort in whenever it is needed. They may even go out of their way to help you find a virtual emcee that can help bring the office together. 

You didn’t necessarily ask for their help, but they demonstrated initiative nonetheless. Now that’s an engaged employee!

See Related: What Are The Social Benefits Of Laughter?

Moderately engaged employees

Moderately engaged employees care about company success. But may have less positive attitudes than their highly engaged counterparts.

They might see areas where the organization could improve. And even when given performance reviews or increased responsibilities, they tend to underperform.

Barely engaged employees

These kinds of employees are simply indifferent. They hold no desire to cultivate positive relationships in the workplace culture.

Nor do they care about the business outcomes or even job security for that matter. In fact, they may only be actively engaged in seeking out another job.

Disengaged employees

Yes, the list still gets lower. Disengaged employees will have a negative opinion of their place of work.

They will feel no commitment whatsoever to their job performance. Nor will they care about business success or even the mission of the company.

These kinds of employees are particularly important to keep an eye out for. Because, unfortunately, they have the power to sink the whole ship.

Benefits of employee engagement

But let’s get out of that doom and gloom! Because there really is an answer to the issues listed above.

Employee engagement. That’s right, just scroll on through the list of benefits to see all that you can gain with a stellar employee engagement strategy.

Greater productivity

This might seem rather obvious. But HR professionals have noted from employee engagement surveys that an engaged workforce makes for a more productive workforce.

Productivity can make employees feel that their work is purposeful. And a great way to improve employee engagement is to provide them the motivation to do their best work!

That might can be anything from giving them a day off as a reward. Or, even hiring a comedian to come into the office to bring employees together in a safe and fun way.

Higher retention rates

If you’ve read this far and you’re still questioning, “Why is employee engagement important?” ask no further. Employee retention rates are a great way of measuring employee engagement.

Retention rates are a great way to measure employee engagement levels

So the lower the employee turnover rate, the lower the employee engagement. Any organization’s success stems from its workers so you’ll want to engage employees not only to motivate employees, but keep your company strong.

Fewer absences

If the employee experience is more engaged, you’ll likely see greater employee performance. And that means, first and foremost, showing up.

Your organizations’ focus is only as strong as your employees’ focus. Understand employee engagement by looking at who shows up and with a positive attitude.

Increased customer satisfaction

Employee engagement survey data and focus groups have shown that customer loyalty comes from engaged employees. Many organizations can point to their employee engagement initiatives as a direct correlate of improved customer service.

And that just makes sense, right? An employee that’s engaged in the work will equally be as invested in the customers and customer data.

Decreased risk of workplace injury

If your workplace suffers from a number of on-site injuries, it’s likely that you’re in need of upping the employee engagement game. Base line is that unengaged employees are easily distracted.

And that’s when accidents happen. So the best way to reduce that risk is to improve employee engagement (and the need for worker’s comp).

Bonus: Why Celebrating Success Is Important For Team Building

What drives employee engagement?

Still need some clarification on employee engagement? Well, below are the main drivers of employee engagement that will help you tackle any weak areas in your employee experience.

Purpose

An organizational culture built on purpose always makes for successful organizations through and through. That’s because employees naturally want to feel driven.

There’s little enjoyment in work that feels meaningless. So start to show employees how their work has real-world results.

Sometimes, employees can feel disengaged from the results of their efforts. But by showing them results, you can shift their perspective.

And, in turn, inspire them to continue to feel driven in the workplace. That’s the beautiful thing about human nature – we’re always looking for a purpose.

Company culture

The first employee engagement platform you have at your disposal is your company culture. Take this for example.

A company that asks for employee feedback through employee surveys will differ greatly from a company that doesn’t care about employees’ opinions, right? So increase employee engagement by demonstrating company values.

Remember, you’re there to walk the walk. Not just talk the talk.

Company culture sets the tone for new workers and can be the foundation of trust for long time workers

So create a company culture that engages employees by asking them for their feedback. Or, even treat the office to a corporate comedian who can start a rapport and gain employees’ trust. 

It can take a lot of courage for an employee to speak their mind. But when the company provides the platform for feedback, employees feel seen and heard.

And really, what better way to improve employee engagement and loyalty over time? … We’re waiting. 

Psychological safety

Similar to company culture, psychological safety is one of the most important employee engagement drivers. It essentially means that employees must feel psychologically safe at work.

A hostile work environment is a quick way to drive employee engagement down. They might be motivated by fear, but don’t get that confused with passion or loyalty.

Flexibility

Recent survey results revealed that a majority of employees prefer a flexible schedule to a rigid one. So if performance management has been noticing some lax engagement, consider ways to reorganize the company’s structure.

This isn’t to say that you should abide by all employee suggestions from each engagement survey. But flexibility can also mean “not hovering,” which tells employees that you trust them to do their jobs.

Career path

You don’t need employee engagement software to tell you that a promised career path is a great motivator. I mean, who wants to keep doing the same menial tasks with no advancement in sight?

This isn’t just to say that employees require increased financial services with a pay raise. But if they put in the effort, added responsibility down the line will tell them that they’re doing a job well done.

Inclusion

It’s one thing to have a diverse company. And it’s a completely different thing to be an inclusive company.

Diversity is just one step towards progressive and equal representation. But inclusion allows all workers to feel safe and valued within the workforce.

Similarly, this circles back to psychological safety. No one wants to be a token diversity hire, so make sure that all employees feel recognized in their unique contributions.

That’s surely an inclusive workforce. And one that will ensure higher engagement levels.

Recognition

Employee recognition is the perfect opportunity to increase employee engagement. We already looked at the scale of engaged workers, from highly engaged to completely disengaged.

Well, if workers start to notice that their highly engaged counterparts are being rewarded for their efforts, then that might shift their otherwise disengaged perspective. Sure, rewards might seem trivial.

Employee recognition is a great way to get disengaged employees more motivated in the workplace

But when the effort is there, credit must be given where credit is due. Not only will you see less engaged employees start to notice the perks of putting in the extra work.

You’ll also gain a greater sense of loyalty from those highly engaged workers as well. They’re putting in all that they’ve got to the company.

So it’s only fair that the company rewards them back. Don’t you think?

A job well done

So, what is employee engagement? Well, it’s a lot of things.

But most importantly, it’s about how your employees relate to the company as a whole. Some employees just view a job as a job.

But the ideal scenario is that they view their job as an extension of themselves. That way, they’ll be more engaged when it comes to the work that they’re putting out.

So don’t slough off employee engagement as something that will fix itself. Some may even argue that employee engagement is the very key to success!

Keep Reading: What Are The Benefits Of Humor In The Workplace?

Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of Clean Comedians. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular corporate entertainer, magician, and virtual speaker.