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Employee engagement is an indicator of the level of enthusiasm and dedication that individuals feel toward their job. Engaged employees are in the organization for more than their paycheck. They are conscientious in the effort they put into their work and believe that their work contributes to the organization’s success.
This article dives deep into the basics of employee engagement in HR (Human Resources), explores why it is so crucial to organizational success and elaborates strategies to help strengthen your employee engagement initiatives.
Business leaders looking to leverage the power of an engaged workforce must first understand what employee engagement is, its importance, and how improving employee engagement can benefit both – the employees and the organization. Hence, it is imperative to evaluate the key indicators and types of employee engagement.
Engagement in employees can be identified by the connection that they feel toward their work and their organization. Engaged employees have a clear idea of their work, are productive, and are loyal to the organization. Besides their rational and emotional connection to the organization, engaged employees are characterized by three traits:
Employees can be engaged with the organization in different ways. The various types of employee engagement are:
Several factors influence employee engagement. It is essential to identify the factors that have the largest influence and steer the implementation of employee engagement strategies with an added focus. Similarly, understanding the key elements of employee engagement fuels powerful ideation and strategizing.
The drivers of employee engagement are all the workplace conditions that influence employee engagement outcomes. Business leaders need to focus their attention on these drivers while steering employee engagement initiatives at the workplace.
Below is a list of major factors/drivers of employee engagement.
Every individual in the organization influences employee engagement—through the relationships they build, their influence on team engagement, and general workplace behavior.
Role of decision-makers in boosting employee engagement
The most critical role in creating and maintaining employee engagement is that of the organization’s leaders. It is expected that they will create the vision, communicate the vision to the team, steer the employee engagement program, and then foster a culture of engagement at the workplace.
The organization’s HR team should own the process and support the leadership in ensuring the success of the engagement initiatives. The team dedicated toward employee engagement in HR should manage the daily activities related to employee satisfaction, deploy the necessary tools and processes, and guide and support the frontline managers.
Frontline managers have the most pivotal role since they lead the actual engagement efforts at individual levels. They need to act as an effective medium for providing/receiving employee feedback. While implementing the organization’s vision on the ground, the managers should also help in the development and growth of the teams that they lead.
Finally, an organization depends on its employees to provide valuable and actionable feedback, work with commitment, and build meaningful relationships with their peers and managers. Hence, it is vital to make every team member feel heard and valued.
For business owners, HR professionals, and team leaders – it is essential to be aware of the ground realities at the workplace. This awareness can be a great asset in improving morale, productivity, and engagement within the workforce.
Twelve elements that are essential to enhancing employee engagement include:
Employees must know what is expected of them.
They need to have someone they can call a friend or a mentor at their workplace.
Employers should look out for their employees' development and periodically give feedback on their performance.
Employees need to be provided with opportunities to grow.
Employees need to have the chance to do what they do best every day.
Employees need to have access to the necessary materials and equipment to do the job right.
In addition to adequate growth conversations and opportunities, helping employees plan a career path within the organization is a crucial element to keeping them engaged.
Employees need to know that their supervisors care about them and the best way to ensure that is by motivating them, encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone, take on new responsibilities and experiment with novel ideas.
Professionals need to be encouraged to invest time and effort in personal development via impactful L&D initiatives.
Professionals want their opinion to count. Hence, companies need to offer platforms where they feel heard.
The company's mission needs to make employees feel that they are a part of something important.
Employees also need to know that their team members are equally engaged and actively participating in quality work.
When employees feel connected to their organization – they work harder, stay longer with the organization, and motivate their colleagues to do the same.
A study conducted by HBR found that 81% of business leaders believed that the business outcomes for their organizations are better when their employees are engaged. Engaged employees perform better at work and are also more productive. Employee engagement affects every aspect of an organization’s functioning – revenue, profitability, employee turnover, and customer experience.
Employee engagement is linked to employee satisfaction and morale and is critical for the organization’s success.
Effective communication is key to creating, driving, and sustaining any employee engagement plan. Any organization that aims to build a workforce that engages should clearly communicate its expectations, keep employees informed of its performance, transparently communicate the reward system for good performance, and institute an effective mechanism for receiving and giving feedback. Such communication creates a sense of ownership among employees and makes them feel valued and understood.
Many employee engagement initiatives typically rolled out in-person were adapted for remote application. This helped overcome the challenge of engaging employees remotely. In the non-virtual scenario, however, there are different strategies that can help boost employee engagement effectively.
Building an engaged workforce is an effective strategy for organizational success.
The employee engagement strategies that help build an engaged workforce include:
Decision-makers must identify the organization's core values and communicate the same to every individual in it. The core values define what truly matters to the organization, which will be preserved even as the organization grows. The core values form the basis around which the employees can be rallied. It can help them form an emotional connection with the organization.
As stated earlier, employee retention becomes easier when employees can see a clear career path within the organization- an essential element of employee engagement. Employees remain engaged when the organization provides them with clear responsibilities and opportunities to grow. Moreover, learning and development initiatives demonstrate to the employees that the organization values its workforce because it is willing to invest in them.
Engagement increases when employees feel that they are doing work that helps the organization achieve its long-term goals. Recognizing the employees' efforts is a simple gesture that shows them that their work is valued. Rewarding top performers enhances engagement and motivates others to up their performance.
Sharing details of the company's performance elicits greater engagement. Transparency in providing details that directly affect the employees fosters trust and increases engagement.
It is necessary to create a mechanism that enables employees to share honest and constructive feedback. However, it is vital to act on the constructive feedback received. When employees see that their feedback is taken seriously, it binds them more strongly to the organization and their work. In other words, while receiving feedback is a critical employee engagement element, inviting feedback can be a bonus strategy to support the same.
Organizations should expect everyone to be accountable for their responsibilities. Everyone needs to contribute to the cause and not just the engaged employees. Reliance on only a select set of engaged employees leads to their burnout.
It is essential to hold managers and the leadership team accountable and not just their teams or direct reports. Uniformly demanding accountability across all levels of the hierarchy improves trust and prevents a toxic work culture.
The work environment also influences engagement. Design the office space such that it encourages open communication and collaboration.
It is important to have realistic expectations and provide adequate time to see results. Unrealistic expectations can intimidate employees and lead to their disengagement.
It is not always possible to succeed with every strategic initiative. Organizations must be ready to pivot and correct course as they measure employee satisfaction to assess the results of previous actions and receive data on performance. Remaining open to suggestions and tweaking the strategy when required is critical to success.
Team-bonding activities are vital to increasing overall engagement at the workplace. The activities intended to promote engagement should place the employees at the center.
Some activities that help boost engagement include:
Mercer | Mettl offers a suite of solutions to help measure and improve employee engagement at your workplace. You can explore one or a combination of the following to empower your employee engagement programs.
Employee engagement is critical for an organization's success since it influences employee satisfaction and morale. Engaged employees are more productive and deliver superior performance.
Among the many strategies available to employers to foster employee engagement, the most important are - effective communication, a well-designed rewards and recognition program, and providing avenues for development and career growth.
Originally published April 19 2021, Updated May 17 2022
D’ipanjenah is a writer and marketing professional associated with Mercer Mettl since 2020. Her working style thrives on a balanced approach towards standard insights and novel trends. She utilizes creative content and digital strategies to help brands start important conversations. When not reading/writing, she enjoys art and parents a calico.