With employee engagement such a buzzworthy phrase, you might expect widespread attention to strategy development and improvement. That’s not exactly what’s happening in HR talent management, but it should be.
Most businesses know that employee engagement matters. Most of them understand what aspects of business are affected by engaged or disengaged employees. What seems to be missing is a better understanding of how effective their existing strategy is and how powerfully employees can affect the bottom line.
As more and more businesses accept or even embrace employee engagement, there’s still a lot of work to be done. The growing economy has changed the employer/employee dynamic. No longer are people content just to have a job. Now, the American workforce expects a job where they can thrive. Otherwise, they’ll head for greener pastures, hurting the company brand and its profits along the way.
Here are 8 groups of stats that could help you develop a better strategy in 2018.
#1: A Business with engaged employee tends to perform significantly better
Companies that invest in employee engagement perform as much as 202 percent better than companies with low engagement. According to Dale Carnegie, engaged employees share these characteristics, which benefit themselves, their departments, the company and the customers or clients they serve:
- Confidence in their job performance abilities
- A sense of empowerment to get the job done without feeling hindered by micromanagement
- Inspiration and motivation to stay engaged
- Enthusiasm about the company and their work
#2: Employee engagement leads to higher profitability
Besides being the right thing to do, businesses look at the bottom line to find evidence that supports employee engagement. According to the Gallup State of the American Workplace report, better engagement leads to as much as 21 percent better business profitability.
Disengaged employees cost businesses as much as $500 billion every year, according to The Engagement Institute.
#3: When engagement goes up turnover goes down
According to Aon Hewitt, only 8 percent of actively disengaged employees plan to stick around. And if you think engagement is all about bending over backward to accommodate employees and make them happy, think again.
Engagement and happiness aren’t the same. But job satisfaction may come as a result. Engaged employees often stay with the company longer and do a better job while they’re on the roster.
- Gallup says they’re nearly 60 percent less likely to look for greener employment pastures in the next year.
- According to Lifeworks, nearly 80 percent of workers will look for another job if they don’t feel like they’re valued where they are.
#4: So does absenteeism and sick days
There’s a lot of evidence to support the link between employee engagement, absenteeism and sick days.
- Depression diagnoses are more common in actively disengaged employees (Gallup)
- Anxiety and depression disorders cost employers over $1 trillion annually (World Health Organization)
- Absenteeism drops by 37 percent with engaged employees (Gallup)
- Work quality improves and defects drop by about 40 percent with engaged employees (Gallup)
- Employees whose stress levels led to missed work lost between 3 and 30 days in a single month. (Mental Health America)
#5: Employee engagement helps customer loyalty and sales soar
It stands to reason that the degree to which employees are (or aren’t) engaged relates to customer satisfaction and retention.
- Temkin Group says 91 percent of engaged employees try harder to do their best.
- According to Aberdeen, customer loyalty improves by as much as 200 percent or more when employees are engaged.
- Gallup says business units that fall under the “highly engaged” category enjoy 20 percent better sales.
#6: The younger the employee, the more engagement matters
No employee wants to work in a job where they’re undervalued and disengaged. But the younger the workforce segment, the more likely they are to leave for a new job.
- Turnover among Millennials costs the American economy over $30 billion every year (Gallup)
- About 55 percent of Millennials are not engaged at work. (Gallup)
- Nearly one-quarter of workers over 35 would like to find a new job within the next year. In Millennials, that number jumps to 32 percent. (Comparably)
- Over 50 percent of Millennials see themselves leaving for a new job in less than two years. Only 37 percent of GenerationX and 25 percent of Baby Boomers agree. (Lightspeed)
#7: Engaged management makes a difference
Employees in management positions aren’t engaged by default. As management engagement goes up, so does employee engagement.
- Workers with “highly engaged managers” have nearly 60 percent better engagement (Gallup)
- Employee engagement drops to almost nothing—2 percent—when management is disengaged. (Gallup)
- When managers have a negative focus, homing in on employee weaknesses, workers are 26 percent less engaged (Vitalsmarts)
- Engagement increases to 71 percent in employees who work under managers that know them and can articulate their strengths. (The VIA Institute on Character)
- When businesses invest in talented managers and double their rate of engaged employees, they achieve about 150 percent higher earnings per share (Gallup)
#8: About 75 percent of businesses ignore employee engagement
It’s hard to imagine, especially with mounting evidence in support of an engagement strategy, but most businesses don’t take effective action. There might be an employee engagement plan in place. But having one and having an effective one are sometimes two very different things.
- About 25 percent of businesses have a strategy in place right now. (Dale Carnegie)
- Nearly 40 percent of companies that have an employee recognition program say it accounts for .01 to .05 percent of the total payroll. The most effective companies invest about .80 percent or more. (Maritz Motivation)
- There’s a marked difference between having a strategy for employee engagement and developing one that’s effective. Having a strategy can almost feel like checking off an item on a list of things to do. But it’s much more complicated. Not only that, it needs fine-tuning.
What works for Millennial engagement might not work for Baby Boomers. That matters because with Millennials less loyal and Boomers brimming with experience, you need your older workers to stay put. They could become the mentors who help you keep Millennials engaged.
Meliorate says a good engagement strategy begins with these bones:
- Communicate company goals with employees.
- Share company information so they feel invested in company success.
- Encourage communication, especially feedback in both directions.
- Promote company reputation, ethics, and values.
- Develop and promote a positive company culture with management on board.
- Develop brand ambassadors by encouraging employees to share their story.
- Leading by example to build trust.
- Actively work for better engagement. It’s a living thing, not a yes-or-no question.
- Give employees the freedom to innovate and create their own successes and acknowledge a great idea when you see it. Employees at every level have something to contribute.
- Curate good teams of people who trust each other and work well together.
- Don’t wait for something negative to happen before you offer feedback. Feedback should be immediate and frequently offered for positive things.
- Demonstrate how the company puts employee feedback to use.
Employee engagement might be the trend for HR talent management, but that’s because it genuinely matters. No one knows how the economy might turn in 2018. If it continues to improve, engagement will matter even more. Great hires are hard to find with low unemployment. Losing one good employee creates a ripple effect that goes all the way down to the bottom line.
If the economy turns down next year, employee engagement will still matter. It speaks to company values, and values matter to customers and clients. Everything is interconnected from the highest rung of the C-Suite to the freshest and youngest new hire on the ladder.
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