Employee engagement is the measure of how enthusiastic and committed employees are to the job and their company, and whether they're willing to go "above and beyond" or put in work in addition to the minimum required to complete their job duties.
Why is employee engagement important?
High employee engagement has been linked to companies with fewer accidents, better retention, and higher profits, while low engagement has the opposite effects. It's estimated that employees who are not engaged cost the U.S. economy as much as $500 billion per year.
How to Measure Employee Engagement:
1. Employee engagement surveys.
Having employees take a survey that that asks them to rate their own level of engagement has been the traditional way of measuring engagement.
2. Checking meeting frequency.
How often do managers meet with employees? How often are these meetings one-on-one? Regular communication with management is connected with high engagement, so meeting frequency is a good indicator.
3. Use of discretionary time.
How often do employees use discretionary time - time they're not required to work - to finish something? Do they sometimes work through breaks, after hours or on weekends? This is an indicator being engaged.
4. Tardiness and absences.
This is the flip side of the previous indicator. Do employees get back late from breaks, leave early, or arrive late? Are they taking more sick days than usual? If so, it's an indicator of low engagement.
5. Discretionary activities.
Do employees participate in groups, meetings, and events that are voluntary? Or do they try to get away from work and all things related to it as quickly as possible?
Employee Engagement Survey Template:
Download this free employee engagement survey and measure engagement at your company. Instant download, no email required.
Employee Engagement Survey Questions:
- Do you meet with your manager often enough?
- If you go above and beyond, will your manager notice?
- If you go above and beyond, will your colleagues notice?
- Does your work here have an overall purpose?
- Should you have more control over your schedule?
- Should you have more say in what projects you work on?
- Should you have more say in how you work on projects?
- Do you feel closely connected with your co-workers?
- Does your manager look for your strengths and help you build on them?
- Does your manager look for your weaknesses and help you correct them?
How to Increase Employee Engagement:
- Increase direct interaction with leadership.
- Give recognition for accomplishments.
- Cultivate strong bonds among coworkers.
- Create a sense of purpose.
- Give employees more control over what they do and how they do it.
- Show employees how each job fits into the big picture.
Employee Engagement Ideas:
1. Encourage regular meetings with supervisors.
Having regular meetings with their managers or supervisors increases employee engagement, especially for millennials.
2. Be flexible about hours if possible.
A greater sense of autonomy - or control over their lives - improves engagement.
3. Give employees more autonomy.
You can achieve this by giving them more say in what they work on and how they do it.
4. Recognize when employees go above and beyond.
Recognition of work that is discretionary, or beyond the minimum required for their job, is key to improving engagement.
5. Make it easy for co-workers to give each other recognition.
Recognition from peers is also important for improving engagement, and possibly even more important and effective than management recognition.
6. Focus on strengths.
Studies show that when managers focus on building employee strengths, rather than correcting weakness, engagement increases.
7. Invest in training and development.
Employees are more able to go “above and beyond” when they’ve got the training they need. It also shows you’re willing to invest in their future.
Examples of Employee Engagement Ideas:
Here are some real-world examples of what companies have done for employee engagement programs.
1. Pixar listens to all employee ideas about anything.
This company is known for a creative culture that produces hit after hit. Co-founder Ed Catmull notes that they listen to any employee's ideas about anything. Giving everyone in your company a voice allows them a sense of autonomy and the feeling they're part of something bigger.
2. HubSpot gives employees unlimited book downloads.
HubSpot pays for employee access to unlimited Amazon book downloads. Perks are generally considered ineffective when it comes to engagement, so why does this work? My theory is that books spark creativity and ideas, which in turn spark excitement and a desire to make great things happen.
3. BBraun sponsors a company book club.
Books again! This company uses them to improve employee bonds, via a company-sponsored book club. The company pays for all the books, employees get to choose them.
4. Webmart gives employees time and money for charitable causes.
This UK-based printing company gives employees 1 day and £250 (about $320) to donate to the charity of their choice. Part of engagement is creating a sense of purpose for employees - and helping them use work to donate or volunteer for causes or a non-profit organization is a great way to do it.
5. Zappos has a peer recognition program.
It's hard not to mention Zappos when it comes to engaging employees, and hard to pick just one thing they do. One cool thing is their coworker bonus program, where peers decide who's gone above and beyond and give them a cash reward each month. At $50, it's not about the money, it's about peer recognition.
What Causes Employee Disengagement:
- Unnecessarily strict schedules.
- Withholding recognition.
- Not investing in employee training.
- Communicating sporadically.
- Focusing on employee weaknesses instead of strengths.
Employee Engagement Tools and Apps:
Looking for solutions to help you increase employee engagement? There are several great apps and tools that can help you out. Here's a list of helpful tools:
Lets your company build a branded, native app designed to increase engagement.
An app built to encourage and facilitate employee recognition - one of the best ways of improving engagement.
An app to help you improve engagement with polls, surveys, contests, announcements, and nominations.
An app to help connect employees by creating a mini-social network for your team.
A mobile engagement tool that combines internal communications, rewards, training, and benefits.
6. Quantum Workplace.
A mobile engagement app that goes beyond surveys and helps companies get continuous employee feedback.
Double the value of your training programs with a mobile automated reinforcement app.
Employee Engagement FAQs:
I've just moved into a management position. Any tips on how to engage employees from the start?
Start doing short 1-on-1 meetings with employees on a regular basis. This is shown to greatly increase employment. Talk to them to find out where they would like to have more flexibility and autonomy in their work and make that happen for them as much as possible. Flexibility and autonomy have also been shown to improve employees engagement.
How can I identify which are my engaged employees?
Look for the ones who are willing to put in effort beyond the minimum, who go "above and beyond." You might also look at employees that have your best attendance records - engaged employees are less likely to arrive late, leave early, and call in sick.
What's the simplest way of defining employee engagement?
The simplest definition of employee engagement is employee willingness to put effort into work beyond the bare required to hold the job. You can also define employee engagement as the willingness to use discretionary effort.
Is there a difference between employee engagement and team engagement?
Team engagement is essentially the same thing as employee engagement, looking at engagement over your whole team, rather than on an individual basis.
Any tips on how to measure employee engagement?
- Watch attendance records - attendance problems signal low engagement.
- Use an employee engagement survey.
- Survey customers and ask them if employees go above and beyond.
- See how often employees engage in voluntary/discretionary activities.
Do you have any free staff engagement ideas I can use?
Yes! There are a lot of ideas that won't cost a thing, including having regular, short meetings with employees, recognizing employees when they go above and beyond, and offering more flexibility and autonomy wherever possible.
We did poorly in our engagement survey. Any advice on how to get employees engaged again?
Start with more frequent 1-on-1 meetings with managers. In and of itself this typically improves workforce engagement, and it may also give you ideas about why employees are disengaged, and what changes you can make to improve engagement.