5 Good Reasons Why We Should All Care About Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has been a hot topic among HR experts for at least a decade now, yet Gallup reports that about 70 percent of employees are still not fully engaged in the workplace. The Society for Human Resource Management found that 55 percent of employees are not engaged or are apathetic about their work, and another 26 percent are actively disengaged. Forty-eight percent of employees are actively seeking new jobs and careers.

Does this mean it does not matter if managers treat employee engagement as a higher or lower priority?

This couldn’t be further from the actual truth. In fact, according to Gallup, lack of employee engagement costs American businesses a little over half a trillion dollars per year, including via workplace accidents, absenteeism, and larger health care costs. This huge chunk of loss can be greatly reduced if more companies focus attention to employee engagement.

What is employee engagement anyway?

Before we go any further, what defines employee engagement in the first place? Engagement is about the emotional commitment an employee has to the business they work for and its goals. An engaged employee is passionate, committed, and enthusiastic about not only their job and career, but also the overall mission of the company where they work. An engaged employee thoroughly understands both their short-term and long-term goals and – this is the important part – proactively works toward achieving both.

However, employee engagement is not to be confused with employee satisfaction – they are two distinct concepts in the field of human resources. A well-paid employee might be very satisfied with their job and workplace, but indifferent to the well-being and mission of the company. This employee  likely clocks out of work as soon as possible and starts searching for a new position as soon as the company falls upon hard times and can no longer afford to give them that annual pay raise they love.

Five great reasons to care about employee engagement in your workplace, no matter the size, industry, HR capacity, or geographical location, of your business:

1. Employees are your most important asset

Products can be duplicated and edges over your competitors can easily be lost. But, the passion and talent of your workforce is hard to replicate, if even possible at all. The Bureau of National Affairs estimates U.S. businesses lose $11 billion annually due to employee turnover. According to Gallup, companies with high engagement levels have 25 percent to 65 percent higher retention rates than those with low engagement.

2. Employee engagement nurtures a growth-minded workplace culture

The bare minimum, distracted, and unenthusiastic approach, characteristic to an unengaged employee, cannot produce dynamic or innovative thinking. Employees who see the company’s success as their own career success actively contribute to foster growth-focused ideas that benefit the company. They are also 37 percent less likely to be absent from work, according to Gallup.

3. Engaged employees go the proverbial “extra mile”

An engaged employee works for more than just a paycheck; they connect emotionally and intellectually with their company. They contribute time and effort above and beyond the minimum requirements of the job and their job description. There is desire to develop a great product rather than simply a good product. Extra time is put in when needed and their focus is the success of the entire team. Engaged employees are who separates great companies and industry leaders from the rest.

4. Employee engagement pays off… literally

Higher employee engagement results in increased revenue and productivity. Just how much exactly? According to Gallup, companies with engaged employees outperform others by as much as 202 percent! Furthermore, it was found that product defects are up to 41 percent less common and in companies with low worker engagement, employees take 37 percent more sick days. Inventory shrinkage at low engagement companies is 28 percent greater, while high engagement companies experience 48 percent fewer safety incidents.

5. Millennials are here, and they are here to stay

The infiltration of Generation Y into today’s workforce is forcing HR departments to rethink their strategies. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that millennials care about opportunities, sense of community, and teamwork and transparency, in the workplace over tangible rewards like pay rate and fancy offices. A study conducted by  Premiere Global Services, Inc.  revealed that 71 percent of millennials wanted meaningful connections at work and hope to find a “second family” in their coworkers. Sixty percent left their company within the first three years, with the primary indicator of whether an employee stays longer term being if there is a “good cultural fit.” In other words – Employee engagement.

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