Employee engagement activities come in many different forms. Some are organized events, while others involve everyday work practices. The organized events include things like staff outings, team parties, and employee engagement games. The second group applies more to general workplace conditions than to specific one-off events. We’ll dig deeper into these practices a bit later on. For now, the most important thing to know is what they all have in common.
No matter what form they take, employee engagement activities always have similar goals. The short version is that they’re all designed to maintain a productive work environment and keep employees engaged. And that’s what we’ll discuss in the following sections– the many different ways companies can achieve these overlapping goals. First, let’s look at what employee engagement actually means and why it’s so important.
What is Employee Engagement?
In some ways, employee engagement is a concept that’s hard to pin down. This is because it takes so many workplace factors into account. Additionally, there is very little agreement on the subject between different ‘management experts.’
Fortunately, these concerns are more academic than practical. So don’t worry– we can still form a definition that works. And that’s what we’ll do after some important preliminaries.
The first thing you need to know is what does not qualify as employee engagement. Job satisfaction doesn’t necessarily lead to employee engagement, for instance. An employee who simply ‘likes’ their job might not be engaged either. The same holds true for job happiness. This might seem confusing at first, but the following scenario will clarify things a bit.
Imagine an employee who reports that they are ‘satisfied’ and/or ‘happy’ with their work. This is fine as far as it goes, but such an employee can still be disengaged. Happy employees often underperform, for instance. Some are significantly less productive than their ‘unsatisfied’ co-workers. Job happiness doesn’t prevent individuals from coming in late, leaving early, or putting in half-hearted efforts every day. In fact, such an individual might only be satisfied because they can get away with this kind of lackluster performance.
Put simply, every engaged employee is happy at work, but not all happy employees are engaged. With that said, we’re now ready for working definition of employee engagement.
Employee Engagement Defined and Explained
First, it’s important to remember that many experts disagree on the meaning of employee engagement. But for our purposes, the following definition is definitely enough to go on. Employee engagement refers to the level of personal involvement an employee has in the reputation and success of their company. The phrase ‘personal involvement’ is the key to understanding employee engagement. Additionally, it also helps us to distinguish between employees are engaged and those who are just ‘happy.’
Job satisfaction and happiness matter, but they don’t necessarily lead to employee engagement. Engaged employees care about their work. These individuals accomplish more than the minimum on a daily basis. Engaged employees show up early and stay late. They maintain their focus even under stressful conditions. Engaged employees think about how their work affects their co-workers and their company’s success.
To put it more briefly, engaged employees go above and beyond to advance their company’s mission. They excel in this way because they have a powerful emotional connection to the company they work for. Engaged employees identify with their organization’s overall vision on a personal level. Just as importantly, this personal connection determines the quality of their performance. Next, let’s expand on this by taking a look at the qualities an engaged employee displays in the workplace.
The Qualities of Engaged Employees
Here is a quick list of the qualities to look for in an employee who’s truly engaged:
- The ability to work effectively with minimal supervision
- An enthusiastic approach to daily responsibilities
- A willingness to play well-defined roles within the organization
- A solution-oriented work attitude
- An openness to new perspectives and methods
- Eager acceptance of leadership roles
- A deep investment in personal and company development
- A sense of belonging and connection
- A true concern for the work experience of their colleagues
- Job ownership
It’s pretty easy to imagine what such a workforce can accomplish, right? The question is how you can get there. First, you’ll need to assess your employee’s level of engagement. Toward that end, here are five questions to help determine your employees’ level of emotional commitment:
- How much commitment do employees have for the company and its overall vision?
- Do the employees work on behalf of the company or just for themselves?
- Are employees motivated by anything more than a paycheck and a bright future?
- Do employees believe their work is meaningful in some way?
- Are the employees’ personal goals aligned with the company’s mission?
Hopefully, you’re starting to get an idea of why employee engagement activities matter. The ideal situation we’ve just described won’t happen all by itself. That’s why you’ll need to know how to improve employee engagement and get started doing it. For extra motivation, let’s look at why employee engagement is so important.
Why Improving Employee Engagement Matters
For starters, let’s think about what it means for an employee to be disengaged. A disengaged employee is one who lacks enthusiasm, has a negative attitude, and consistently underperforms. In short, disengaged employees are people who haven’t fully bought into their company’s overall vision.
Needless to say, disengaged employees aren’t very productive. They’re too remote and dissatisfied to be productive. Disengaged employees tend to be careless, aloof, and isolated. They’re also less willing to work as part of a team than their more engaged counterparts.
On the other hand, an engaged workforce can do wonders for your company. Here are the benefits you can expect from improving employee engagement:
- Easier recruitment of top talent
- Higher rates of employee retention
- A good reputation in both your industry sector and the community at large
- Lower training costs
- A happier and healthier workplace
- Better conflict resolution
- Increased efficiency
- Solid client relations
- Increased productivity
- Higher profits
Now let’s look at some specific ways your company can receive these important benefits.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
Successful companies use a variety of employee engagement activities to deepen their employees’ commitment. This is because they’re the ideal way to improve employee engagement. In the next few sections, we’ll discuss five employee engagement activities that are proven to work.
Remember– many different things fall into the category of employee engagement activities. Like we said up above, they can refer to a)one-off events, and b)ongoing practices. First, we’ll discuss the ongoing practices involved in maintaining a positive work environment. Then, we’ll finish up by mentioning four specific one-off activities.
The Workplace Environment and Improving Employing Engagement
There’s an intimate link between workplace conditions and employee engagement. In fact, it’s almost impossible to talk about either concept without mentioning the other. This doesn’t mean that a good work environment automatically turns disengaged employees into engaged ones, but it’s still an excellent place to start.
Think of it like this. Employee engagement refers to a high level of development in your company. It’s something that can’t be achieved without the proper foundation. Your workplace environment makes up a huge part of this foundation. Therefore, a positive work culture has to be in place before you can even think about employee engagement.
Fortunately, the benefits of a positive work culture build on themselves. Improvements here and there will lead to meaningful increases in employee engagement. In turn, this increased engagement will double back and improve your work culture. In the next section, we’ll show you four ways to get the momentum started.
Four Ideas to Improve Workplace Environment
By now, you’ve probably gained a firm understanding of the link between engagement and workplace conditions. You should also understand how workplace conditions and employee engagement feed off of one another. Put all this together and something important becomes very clear: better workplace conditions lead to better engagement and vice versa.
This is because good working conditions come first. Employees have to feel safe, comfortable and supported before they can become truly engaged. They also need to have a sense of belonging and be treated with respect. Here are four of the best ways you can lay the groundwork for high levels of employee engagement:
- Use the recruitment and interview process to hire people who share your company’s values and are willing to work as part of a team.
- Set an example by always treating your people with respect. This means expressing concern for the whole person and keeping any promises you make.
- Improve the physical environment with cheerful lighting, ample workspace, and a space for non-work social interaction.
- Meet with your people often and listen to any concerns they might have. Then, address these concerns with constructive action and adequate follow up.
Examples of Employee Engagement Activities
Employee engagement activities come in an enormous variety of shapes and sizes. We’ve just talked about one that involves an ongoing set of practices. Now, we’ll conclude with a quick list of four one-off or occasional activities you can use to foster employee engagement.
- Acknowledge personal and professional landmarks by holding miniature celebrations every month.
- Facilitate job ownership by creating employee committees to participate in the decision making process.
- Create learning opportunities and let everyone participate in them on a rotating basis. These can include both internal training sessions and industry seminars.
- Be transparent about your company’s progress, mission, and financial situation. This will help build the mutual trust that’s so necessary to employee engagement.
A truly engaged workforce is one of the most important contributors to your company’s long-term success. Engaged employees are enthusiastic, loyal, and productive. Business across the country are beginning to understand the importance of employee engagement. Apply what you’ve learned here to inspire your staff and get a jump on the competition.