Why employee engagement is important

employee engagement Feb 10, 2020

Increased profitability is one reason why employee engagement is important.

You may be hearing a lot of buzz lately about the need for effective employee engagement. That’s for good reason. I would contend that employee engagement is the most effective way to move the needle of your company’s profitability. I understand that what I’ve just said is a bold and audacious claim. But I’m not overstating the importance of employee engagement here.

Engagement is the single most impactful way to inspire and retain your employees. You prefer to be interested and engaged in your work, so it only makes sense that your subordinates would want the same thing for themselves. 

Better bottom line

With your team members working at their highest potential, your chances of successfully bringing your company to a greater level of productivity and profitability is increased tenfold—and an important role of any business leader is to accomplish exactly that task. But, there’s much more to it than just the bottom line. When employees feel fully engaged by leadership, they’re happier and, honestly, you will be, too. This is another reason why employee engagement is important.

You’ve heard it said—probably more times than you can count—that people are a company’s most valuable asset (while some object to hearing people referred to in a way that makes them sound like objects, it is the common terminology used these days). You spend countless hours screening applicants, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and then training new employees to bring them up to a level of proficiency in your company. Some leaders stop there. But do you really want just competent employees?

What would it be like if you had world-class employees? You can, and that’s exactly where real leadership begins. Those employees must feel engaged. Without it, many competent and proficient employees will only tread water, and some will eventually leave. You, and they, deserve better than that.

Gallup employee engagement

According to Gallup, just over one third of U.S. employees feel engaged in their workplace. That leaves two thirds who do not. That’s right. I’ll say it again—two thirds of the people in the U.S. workforce do not feel engaged at their place of employment. That’s a startling statistic.

Gallup estimates disengagement runs companies about one third of the disengaged worker's salary in lost productivity. Disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. You can imagine what that means for your company.

“Companies with higher levels of employee engagement had 18% higher productivity and 12% higher profitability.”— Gallup

I hope you see the importance of employee engagement.

Employee engagement definition

Let’s take a moment to describe what I mean when we speak about employee engagement. We’re specifically talking about a mix of both personal and professional engagement that helps your employee feel connected. Engaged employees feel connected to you, their leader; connected to others on your team; connected to their role on the team; connected to your company and its mission; connected to your clients or customers and their needs; and connected to the work they are doing.

You can see the effect of the ripple caused by the pebble tossed into the pond—that’s effective employee engagement. The result of employee engagement is that you have employees who show up to work each day excited and ready to be the world-class performers we spoke about earlier. It’s not an impossible dream. With a little bit of effort on your part, that dream can be a wonderful reality that will pay dividends well into the future.

Types of employee engagement

Employee engagement can be looked at through two lenses: personal and professional. Let’s tackle personal engagement first.

Employee engagement on a personal level involves person-to-person interaction. As a leader, you can add to your team members’ feelings of connecting and belonging to the team by simply making sure each one feels known and accepted as a person. If your workplace proximity allows, get up and go visit your team members on a regular basis. A bit of walking around goes a long way.

I realize we live in a time where many employees are working remotely, even in large and traditional corporations; however, technology has revolutionized how we operate in this arena. If you manage a team who is spread out geographically, commit to making video conferencing your friend if you haven’t already done so.

Employees, all humans for that matter, long for a sense of connection. They need to feel liked, valued, trusted, and known. Author and HR expert JJ Jarrell says that once that baseline of trust is built, they can move to a higher level of feeling that they are supported, valued, and heard.

These are the soft skills of personal employee engagement. In our fast-paced, hard-charging business world, it’s easy to put these skills on the back burner. But they’re vital. These skills make people feel, well—like people.

Improving your interactions on a personal level will take a commitment to authenticity and openness. It will also involve a commitment of time. But rest easy—it doesn’t take much. I can coach you through the most efficient and effective ways to improve this level of engagement with those you lead. The return on investment will be well worth your time and effort.

I’d be happy to chat with you to offer tips you can use to implement your strategy to engage your employees on this basic yet critically important personal level. Things you maybe had never considered. They’re vital, and I urge you not to overlook them. These soft, personal engagement skills help open the door for effective professional engagement.

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