Employee engagement is a reflection of the relationship between an organisation and its employees. An "engaged employee" would come across as enthusiastic about their work, and as such would continue with positive steps and actions within the company. The benefits of employee engagement are therefore obvious —employees are more productive and happy, and probably more likely to stick around too.
While engagement still feels like a relatively recent HR concept, it’s now hit the mainstream. Over a third of HR managers use employee engagement to get the best from their employees (CIPD 2015). And you can use a range of methods in your own workplace to positively engage staff.
Measuring employee engagement at your workplace
Employee engagement is a psychological or emotional state, like job satisfaction. Direct measurement therefore relies on feedback from employees — who won’t always be happy to share negative opinions openly.
The most common method is the survey, which you could let employees submit anonymously. Typical questions might include:
- How do you feel about coming to work each day?
- Are you proud to tell people where you work?
- List 5 words that describe how you feel about coming to work.
- Do you feel valued in your job?
- Do you have the tools to do your job effectively?
There are also indirect measurements of employee engagement, such as individual, team and company productivity. Given the link between engagement and performance, these can indicate when you need to act on engagement.
The link between engagement and performance
Speaking of the link between engagement and performance, research shows employee attitudes and management methods directly correlate with productivity levels. When employees are positively engaged, organisations have been shown to experience improved growth, customer satisfaction and innovation.
Engaged employees are often passionate advocates for the companies they work for. When your workforce are proud to tell people they love working there, your brand’s reputation naturally benefits. A disengaged workforce, meanwhile, can have the opposite effect on performance and brand reputation.
Developing an employee engagement strategy
Having a clear strategy can help you improve and maintain employee engagement. A major review by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills identifies four fundamental principles on which engagement strategies should be built:
- Leadership: Management should provide make sure employees have a clear and realistic picture of the company strategy.
- Effective line managers: Line managers should support and motivate employees.
- Employee voice: Employees should feel listened to, involved in decision making and able to challenge or support the status quo.
- Integrity: Employees should have faith in an organisational culture where management deliver rather than break promises.
Putting it into practice
But how might you put such a strategy into practice? A crucial element is having all levels of management on board, with senior managers providing leadership and line managers creating a motivational environment.
You should also create an effective, communicative feedback loop. Measure employee engagement and productivity regularly, and reward employee productivity and positive behaviours.
With employee engagement as part of your culture, you can continuously work towards a passionate and high-performing workforce.