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The Secret to Understanding & Boosting Employee Engagement

by Michael Murphy / January 17, 2024

Getting employees genuinely excited about their work is so important, but it can be tricky to figure out. Employee engagement goes beyond the surface level of job satisfaction. It isn’t just about whether employees are satisfied with their jobs day-to-day. It’s more about them feeling invested emotionally in what the company is all about and what it hopes to achieve.

Just imagine if everyone was passionate about contributing to the mission and values of their workplace, not just going through the motions. That kind of engagement creates a ripple effect that shapes the whole workplace culture in a positive direction. By driving higher engagement across the workforce, organizations can elevate employee performance, well-being, and fulfillment for mutual benefit. 

An engaged employee feels connected to a deeper purpose, beyond just the routine. When employees are emotionally invested, they become not just workers but advocates for the organization’s success, signifying a sense of purpose that surpasses the day-to-day routine. And that’s a win-win.

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is often tossed around without much thought given to what it signifies. At its core, an engaged employee is fully absorbed in their work and energized about their role. They are invested – both intellectually and emotionally – in the organization’s goals and perform at their peak capabilities to drive success. Engagement is about motivation, passion, and commitment. An engaged workforce doesn’t just work hard, they work smart and put effort into their contributions because they actively care about the organization and want it to thrive.

  • Engaged employees find deeper meaning in their work and feel a sense of purpose in what they do. Their work aligns with their values and interests.
  • Engagement fuels employees’ desire to go above and beyond basic requirements. They consistently excel and bring creativity to solving problems.
  • Engaged team members act as brand ambassadors who speak highly of their organization both internally and externally.
  • High engagement results in lower absenteeism, greater retention, and a willingness to act as organizational citizens.
  • Engagement involves cognitive, emotional, and behavioral components – it’s about thoughts, feelings, and actions toward work.

The key is that engagement stems from a personal intrinsic desire to contribute, not just the extrinsic motivation of a paycheck or rewards. Employee engagement is a dynamic force that goes beyond routine tasks and transforms the workplace into a thriving ecosystem where both individuals and the organization flourish.

Challenges in Improving Employee Engagement

Boosting engagement can be difficult even for organizations with the best intentions. Leaders must be aware of common challenges that can hinder progress in elevating engagement across the workplace. When initiatives fizzle out or fail to gain traction, it’s often due to the following challenges:

  • Lack of clear strategy and execution plan: Without intentional and focused efforts, initiatives aimed at boosting engagement lose some momentum.
  • Failure to regularly measure engagement: You can’t manage what you don’t measure through surveys, stay interviews, etc.
  • Undervaluing people: Treating employees as expenses and not assets misses opportunities to invest in their growth.
  • Toxic culture: Allowing poor leadership, lack of trust, politics, and unhealthy dynamics to stay in the workplace damages engagement.
  • Stagnant roles: Failing to develop people or provide advancement opportunities limits their potential.
  • Work overload: Stretching teams too thin leads to burnout instead of higher engagement.
  • Disconnected leadership: Leaders who fail to interact with or express interest in their teams struggle to build relationships and inspire engagement.

Strengthening employee engagement is a shared responsibility between leadership, managers, and employees. While driven by leadership culture, managers need to foster engagement in their teams through trust, development, and empowerment. Employees also need to proactively voice their needs, ideas, and feedback. The right approach is required across the organization to meaningfully improve engagement.

Whose Job Is It to Strengthen Employee Engagement?

While executive leaders play an instrumental role in prioritizing engagement as a strategic move, the responsibility spreads across the organization. Improving engagement requires a collective effort and shared ownership. At the heart of it, engaging employees should be ingrained in everyone’s role to some degree. However, certain groups have a greater influence on moving the needle:

  • Executives must prioritize engagement in strategy and modeling engaged behaviors.
  • HR owns the design of engagement programs, measurement through surveys, and coaching leaders.
  • Managers directly impact team engagement through trust, development, empowerment, and culture.
  • Employees contribute through voicing needs, providing feedback, collaborating, and excelling in their roles.

No group can single-handedly improve engagement alone. Coordination across leadership, HR, managers, and employees is key. With shared ownership of engagement initiatives, organizations can build a stronger culture. As organizations continue strengthening employee engagement, it’s important to consider how the focus may evolve moving forward. HR teams need to stay on top of emerging trends, technologies, and best practices that can impact engagement strategies.

Tips for Strengthening Employee Engagement

Elevating engagement across the workforce requires a thoughtful approach to addressing the different drivers. While some interventions do exist, focus on a few key areas to get started:

Strengthen Leadership and Culture

  • Be present, connect with employees at all levels, and demonstrate a passion for the company’s mission.
  • Build trusting relationships between leadership and teams by soliciting input, actively listening, and having transparent conversations.
  • Celebrate wins, milestones, and achievements to recognize employees’ contributions.
  • Weed out toxic behaviors and implement values that foster psychological safety, inclusion, and well-being.
  • Provide opportunities for social connections between coworkers to build community and prevent isolation.
  • Promote work-life balance through flexible work options, boundaries on after-hours work, and preventing burnout.

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Design Meaningful Jobs and Growth Paths

  • Create job impact by clarifying how roles ladder up to strategic goals and help others. Communicate the purpose.
  • Enrich roles by allowing employees to share input into responsibilities based on skills/interests and providing stretch assignments.
  • Develop career pathways documenting growth opportunities and provide mentors to guide advancement.
  • Invest in learning and development programs to build capacities and ready employees for the next level.
  • Encourage a continuous growth mindset through training, conferences, and cross-training.

Empower and Trust Employees

  • Request employee input and adopt suggestions whenever possible to show that you value their insight.
  • Remove unnecessary controls and approval chains that disempower employees. Delegate real ownership.
  • Set goals collaboratively, and then give employees control over how they’re achieved based on their strengths.
  • Replace micromanaging behaviors with coaching – provide support while still allowing independence.
  • Recognize great work visibly and often through appreciation, awards programs, and celebrations.

Listen and Measure Engagement

  • Poll employees through engagement surveys and stay connected to their sentiments. Diagnose low-scoring areas.
  • Solicit ideas and feedback on enhancing engagement in small group discussions and questionnaires.
  • For red flags (i.e. turnover, absenteeism, productivity), track engagement indicators. Interview employees who are leaving.
  • Create forums for employees to share suggestions and concerns. Close the gaps by addressing issues raised.

Reframe Engagement as a Shared Responsibility

While leadership does set the tone, employees can proactively contribute to their engagement by doing the following:

  • Expressing their ideas, interests, and needs so the job can be shaped accordingly.
  • Taking advantage of career development opportunities and not waiting for someone else to drive their growth.
  • Going above and beyond to produce excellence instead of just only meeting the minimum.
  • Fostering positivity and relationships with colleagues instead of isolation.
  • Sharing feedback on how the organization can improve and not withdraw.

The Many Benefits You Will Gain From Improving Employee Engagement

Organizations that dedicate themselves to strengthening high employee engagement reap massive gains across multiple areas:

Heightened Productivity and Efficiency

One of the primary benefits of improved employee engagement is a substantial increase in productivity. Engaged employees go beyond completing tasks; they invest their intellectual and emotional energy, working with a sense of purpose. This type of dedication translates into more efficient and effective work processes, ultimately boosting the overall productivity of the organization.

Enhanced Retention Rates

Building a culture of engagement contributes significantly to reducing turnover rates. When employees feel a strong connection to their work and the organization, they are more likely to stay committed for the long haul. This not only saves the organization from the costs related to recruitment but also preserves valuable institutional knowledge within the workplace.

Nurturing a Positive Organizational Culture

Improving employee engagement goes hand in hand with fostering a positive organizational culture. Engaged employees contribute to a collaborative, innovative, and supportive work environment. This positive culture becomes a magnet for attracting top talent and creates a workplace where everyone is motivated to give their best at all times.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

Engaged employees are the frontline ambassadors of the brand. Their dedication and passion for their work directly impact customer satisfaction. Employees who are emotionally invested in the success of the organization are more likely to provide excellent customer service, enhancing the overall satisfaction and loyalty of customers.

From increased productivity and retention rates to the nurturing of a positive organizational culture and improved customer satisfaction, the positive impacts ripple throughout the entire organization. Investing in employee engagement is not just about creating a better workplace; it’s a strategic move that positions the organization for sustained success and growth.

Elevate Employee Engagement with iSolved People Cloud

Improving employee engagement needs a thoughtful strategy and the right tools to carry out that vision. While engagement arises from creating the right experiences and culture, technology plays a key role. HR teams need solutions that remove administrative burdens so they can focus on more strategic priorities – like building a truly engaging employee experience. They need platforms that can support their unique engagement goals versus one-size-fits-all tools.

Forward-thinking organizations are aligning engagement efforts with modern human capital management systems – unified platforms that connect and empower both employees and HR show great promise. The journey towards a more engaged and thriving workforce begins with isolved People Cloud, offered by Platinum Group. This solution can help improve employee engagement by streamlining HR tasks to leave room for focusing on Employee Engagement. This all-in-one system, including the Share & Perform module, keeps employees connected. Learn more here:

By implementing technology built around engagement, your organization can establish the foundation and capabilities needed to drive real cultural change. The future of work is an engaged one!

Tags: Company Culture Employee Engagement Company Brand Company Growth Asheville HCM Company Values

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Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

Michael is the founder of Platinum Group. His passion is in helping businesses to simplify their employee management and accounting processes.