How to increase your employee engagement

Published on 24-09-2019

This article is an extension of our whitepaper Quality of Hire – From Job Fit to Company Fit. You can download the white paper here. In this blog post, we’re looking closer at an important indicator of good Quality of Hire: Employee Engagement. What is it? Why is it important? How do we measure it and how can we increase it?

What is employee engagement?

An engaged employee is someone who is fully absorbed by their work and is so enthusiastic about it that they take positive action to further an organisation’s reputation and interests. This means also that an engaged employee has a positive attitude towards their organisation and its values. (1)

Why is it important?

Next to job satisfaction, job performance, and other Quality of Hire indicators, employee engagement is a way to increase your Quality of Hire, and through that, the success of your organisation. Engaged people produce better financial results for the organisation and demonstrate enthusiasm. Additionally:

Engaged employees have a level of commitment and emotional attachment to the organization (Demovsek, 2008). Employees develop a bond with an organization and that creates better business. If that emotional connection to their career, relationships with other employees and the organization are present, they perform better and serve the organization better (Scarlett Survey). (2)

Employees that are not engaged don’t care about the success of your organisation. They do not excel or participate fully. Even worse, their lack of commitment, poor performance or bad customer service can actively hurt your organisation. (3) Especially organisational commitment (see How do we increase it?) is an important factor here, as it is strongly related to employee engagement. When organisational commitment increases, so does employee engagement. Additionally, it can also positively impact the overall job satisfaction, performance, health-related absences, general health, proactivity and the motivation of employees. (2)

Employee engagement among Western Europeans is only 10% – Gallup

According to a Gallup study, worldwide employee engagement is only 15%. Among Western Europeans it’s even lower, a shocking 10%. The same report suggests that engaged employees are not only 17% more productive but also 21% more profitable. (4) Consequently, there’s a lot of ground to cover to improve engagement and thereby increase the success of your organisation.

How do we measure employee engagement?

So, now we know that employee engagement is an important success factor for organisations, how do you measure it and find out how engaged your employees actually are? Measuring and calculating employee engagement can be tough because it’s a term that is hard to define. There is no black-or-white statement indicating what employee engagement actually is. Therefore organisations use different ways to measure it. For example, Gallup has its Q12 Employee Engagement Survey, while others calculate it through metrics such as feedback, recognition, happiness, relationships in the workplace, etc. In his Forbes article, Brent Gleeson mentions a set of questions for employees that need to be answered, to measure how engaged they are, or at least how ‘engagement friendly’ their company actually is.

In short, you’ll need to find out for yourselves which metrics you want to use to measure the engagement in your organisation. And then stick with it, otherwise, each year, you’ll be comparing apples to oranges, because the metrics are different.

How do we increase it?

According to Saks (2006), there are two types of employee engagement: job engagement and organisational engagement. Job engagement is determined by how engrossed an employee is in their work. Organisational engagement is determined by the extent to which an individual is psychologically present as a member of an organisation. (3)

Job Fit and Company Fit

It’s therefore important that you try to increase both types of engagement. Firstly, you need to make sure that there is a right Job Fit between employees and their jobs. High-quality recruitment entails matching new candidates with the right jobs. So, Job Fit is something that should be considered before a candidate actually gets invited to an interview.

Secondly, make sure that there is a high chance of possible organisational engagement among new hires. This is something that can also be determined during the recruitment process. Recruiters can do this by matching new candidates with their organisation based on Company Fit (also known as Person-Organisation Fit and Cultural Fit).

By making sure of a good Job Fit and Company Fit, you increase your chances of gaining highly engaged new hires for your organisation.

Engaged leadership and a listening ear

Finally, after a new employee joins the company, you need to provide them with a healthy environment to grow employee engagement.

According to CIPD (2011), if an organization truly listens to their employees, they will feel more valued and this can be a strategic instrument for employee engagement. In the research by Daprix and Faghan (2011), transparent communication is critical for employee engagement and employees trust in management. This contributes also to a positive corporate culture. Strategic HRM should view communication as a key role for them. (2)

For that, you need engaged high-quality leaders in your organisation, because poor management leads to disengaged employees and a lack of commitment. To solve this problem, the following engagement steps (2) can be taken:

  1. Start it from day one
  2. Start it from the top of the organisation
  3. Enhance employee engagement through two-way communication
  4. Give satisfactory opportunities for development and advancement
  5. Give employees appropriate training
  6. Have a strong feedback system
  7. Build a distinctive corporate culture
  8. Focus on top-performing employees

To read more on leadership, please download our whitepaper Leadership and Corporate Culture here.

Read this article in German.

Sources:

  1. EMP Trust, Effective Ways to Improve Employee Engagement. retrieved on the 5th of August 2019.
  2. Abdulwahab S. Bin Shmailan (Jan 2016), The relationship between job satisfaction, job performance and employee engagement: An explorative study. Issues in Business Management and Economics Vol.4 (1), pp. 1-8, January 2016. Retrieved on the 7th of August 2019.
  3. Saks, A.M & Ashforth, B.E. (December 2006), A longitudinal investigation of the relationships between job information sources, applicant perceptions of fit, and work outcomes. Retrieved on the 7th of August 2019.
  4. Gallup, State of the Global Workplace (2017). Retrieved on the 20th of June 2019.

Header photo by NASA.

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