Employee Engagement: Why it Matters
Kevin Robins |
Many of you have heard the phrase “Employee Engagement” and may think it is just another HR phrase or idea of the day. Please take a minute to read this and reconsider your view. There is significant research over the past 15 years to support the view that companies with highly engaged employees have better business results than companies with low engagement ratings.
Of great concern, the Gallup organization, which has been measuring the impact of Employee Engagement across thousands of companies, estimates today that only 28% of US employees are highly engaged. The impact of the disengaged is even greater on the partially engaged employees (53% on average.) The partially engaged are often swayed by the seemingly loud voices or behaviors of the disengaged, or “engagement saboteurs”, when the voice of the highly engaged is so soft. The real gain from improving engagement levels results from the shift of more partially engaged employees to highly engaged employees as this not only improves engagement levels but also mutes the voices of the disengaged.
At a recent national conference on Talent Management, successful companies across the board, were placing a strong emphasis on Employee Engagement. Companies like Jim Beam, Cardinal Health and Fifth Third Bank have employee engagement as a top corporate priority along with leadership development and succession. Moreover, a recent global CEO study distributed at the conference by Deloitte indicated that Employee Engagement was in the top 3 of most pressing HR concerns.
Aon/Hewitt recently reported that high employee engagement companies outperformed average market returns by 22% while low employee engagement companies underperformed by 28%.
Even more compelling research looks at the impact on specific work measures. Gallup compared top quartile engagement companies to bottom quartile companies and found the following significant benefits:
- 18% higher Productivity
- 37% lower Absenteeism
- 49% less Safety Issues
- 60% less Quality Defects
- 12% Cost Savings
- 16% higher Profitability
What is Employee Engagement? There are many different definitions circulating in the HR world, but in its simplest form highly engaged employees act like partners or owners in the business. They are more than satisfied employees just doing their job. Highly engaged employees are passionate about their employer and their jobs and they have a high sense of commitment and willingness to go the extra mile. They are proactive, take initiative and persist in the face of challenge and will help drive the company in whatever direction is necessary. They also like to “Wow” customers which is why there is a strong correlation between highly engaged employees and high customer satisfaction with the related positive impact on higher customer retention and revenue.
At the core, many of the factors impacting employee engagement levels relate to creating trust between the employer and its employees. Engagement levels are significantly impacted by leadership, company vision, and the creation of mutual benefit which is often tied to the opportunity and paths for development along with clear feedback. In addition, the impact of individual managers on these factors is great and most companies that successfully increase employee engagement levels focus on developing managers’ skills and holding them accountable for engagement results. Several companies, including Campbells, have specific training on how to handle critical or “memorable moments” such as performance reviews, onboarding, career development and compensation discussions so that difficult conversations don’t lead to disengagement.
Most companies looking to measure and improve employee engagement use surveys to measure their engagement levels and, more importantly, to target ways to improve engagement levels. Often these are done once a year or every 18 months although many companies are using additional, shorter “pulse surveys” to measure progress in the interim. Pulse surveys normally take 5 minutes to complete but are invaluable as a quick check to avoid falling off track. Both types of surveys place their emphasis on actionable areas to improve engagement and good survey tools can categorize data at many levels including down to the manager and supervisor level so that a company can target specific teams and their engagement levels.
How Can MEA Help You?
Because employee engagement is so critical to the success of our companies competing in today’s world, MEA has enhanced its survey capabilities with a new technology partner so that we can offer a variety of multi-lingual surveys including traditional Employee Opinion and Engagement Surveys and Pulse Surveys. This platform is used by Fortune 500 companies for employee and customer surveys and includes new online reporting tools that allow us to enhance our report and analytical tools that middle market companies would normally not be able to afford.
Please contact us at 800-662-6238 and ask for Kevin Robins if you would like additional information.