An engaged workforce encourages commitment, energy and productivity to help improve business performance
Employee engagement is the extent to which staff feel a sense of passion for their job, are dedicated to their organisation and have a desire to put their best efforts into their work. Employee engagement comes about when trust is built between staff and management and where there is a flow of two way communication.
Employee engagement is essential to ensure business success. An engaged workforce encourages commitment, motivation and productivity from all those involved to help improve business performance.
This guide looks at what employee engagement means and how it works. It provides best practice on how you can develop integrity in your business by defining, communicating and embedding values and supportive behaviour.
Advantages of employee engagement
By involving employees in your business, you will motivate them to contribute to your business success
Employee engagement is a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to your business goals and values. By involving them in your business, you will motivate them to contribute to your business success and at the same time improve their sense of well-being.
Business benefits of engaged employees
Employee engagement benefits everyone involved with your business by creating an informed, involved and productive workplace that helps propel your business towards its goals.
When implemented properly employee engagement can bring the following business benefits:
- staff are happier and have an increased desire and commitment to give their best to their organisation
- more revenue for your business
- higher levels of innovation
- employees are likely to act as advocates for your business helping you to attract new talent and new customers
- lower rates of sickness or absenteeism
- more loyal staff
- employees feel empowered and that their opinions and feedback matter to the future direction of the business
- staff are more likely to behave in ways that support your business values
- better focus on improved customer service
- establishment of a culture that enables staff to voice their opinions that can lead to better ways to do things
- a stronger sense of personal wellbeing and a feeling of being more involved, committed and productive at work
- engaged teams are stronger and better equipped to handle difficult situations should they arise
How to establish employee engagement in your business
Addressing the enablers of employee engagement will provide the benefits of a more engaging culture in your business
Employee engagement can't be imposed from above. Employee engagement is about creating a shift in the organisational culture that establishes an environment that encourages effective staff participation and involvement.
Outlined below are areas which businesses should address in order to establish effective employee engagement.
Staff should be made aware of where your business is going, why it is taking the direction it is and how it aims to get there. This can be achieved through a clear strategic narrative or business story. This helps employees develop a sence of value by understanding how their role fits in with the wider scope of the business and how they contribute to organisational goals. Create and communicate your strategic narrative.
Engaging managers who motivate, challenge and support employees, treat them as individuals and seek and respond to their views are key to employee engagement.
Employee engagement starts with managers showing a clear and collective commitment to making employee engagement part of business culture. This means sharing information on business plans and performance, making sure you live your business values and seeking views and ideas from employees on how to improve your business. Managers who actively listen to employees and act on their opinions and suggestions for improvement, where appropriate, are more likely to encourage effective engagement from other members of staff. How to be an engaging manager.
Effective two-way communication which listens to employees and involves and consults them in decision-making within your business is important. Encourage feedback and ideas from employees and urge them to raise concerns and support the way you do business. Make it as easy as possible for staff to communicate and engage with you and management, for example, through regular staff surveys or online suggestion forms. To further encourage staff engagement you could reward ideas that are implemented in the organisation. Establish employee voice in your business.
Integrity with employee engagement means practising what you preach and adhering to your business values. There shouldn't be a gap between what the people in your business say and what they do. Build a culture that enables staff to share information and encourages open-mindedness. Respond to employee ideas or suggestions when they are brought forward. Integrity helps build the trust required to enable effective employee engagement.
Employee engagement champions
Identifying employee engagement champions in different departments or teams can help identify and share examples of employee engagement
Identifying and establishing employee engagement champions in different departments or teams throughout your business can help sow the seeds for further employee engagement throughout the rest of your organisation. Employee engagement champions can identify and share examples of employee engagement in action in their teams.
Role of engagement champions
Employee engagement champions have a key role linking managers with the ideas and experiences of employees.The role of employee engagement champions can be as narrow or as broad as you like. You could ask them to focus on one particular issue or you could give them a broader remit.
The scope of the employee engagement champion role is up to you but there are some key aspects:
- helping share information and key messages about the business with colleagues
- seeking examples and proof points of good practice from colleagues
- identifying feedback or issues from employees and feeding these back
The role of engagement champion is not time-consuming. It would be a voluntary or additional part of an employee's job.
Engagement champions: key qualities
Employee engagement champions need to be willing and enthusiastic. They should already understand the importance of engagement and are keen to help the business improve. They could be in any area and at any level of the business.
The key qualities for engagement champions are:
- understanding of engagement - what it means and its business benefits
- enthusiasm and energy for the subject or area that they will be the engagement champion for
- knowledge of the business and the people in their area
- connections and credibility among their colleagues
- confidence to deal with others on the behalf of the organisation
- confidence to handle feedback - positive or negative - on the behalf of the organisation
Preparation for engagement champions
Employee engagement champions need information and guidance to help them in their role. This will also help you ensure shared understanding and consistency of approach across the business. Some core steps to consider are:
- a briefing pack for each employee engagement champion
- a short training session or workshop
- if you have an intranet create a private section where engagement champions can liaise with each other and share experiences, questions and good practice
Employee engagement briefing pack
In the employee engagement briefing pack you could include:
- a letter from you explaining the importance of the role and thanking them for taking it on
- a summary sheet on the importance and benefits of engagement
- a summary of the activities
- a copy of the business strategy and business values
- contact details for other engagement champions and other colleagues they may need to liaise with - eg people running internal communications
Making employee engagement happen
To help shape and embed employee engagement champions in everyday practice you could:
- discuss the idea with other senior managers and gain overall agreement to the approach
- involve colleagues from HR or communications - if you have them - to help delegate or share some tasks and responsibilities
- contact each champion so they understand the importance of their role and are inspired
- contact each champion's manager to gain their support
- ask one of the champions to coordinate and report back to you
How to increase employee engagement: five top tips
Employee engagement is a workplace approach designed to encourage staff motivation and commitment, which aims to result in the improved wellbeing and performance of workers, alongside meeting your business goals and values.
An engaged employee will feel motivated and loyal to the organisation they work for, which will drive innovation and help to move your business forward. Follow our five tips to help you increase employee engagement in your organisation.
1. Listen to employees - actively listen to your employees, ask them for ideas for improvement and their opinions on business matters. Make it easy for staff to share their views and communicate with you. For example, through regular staff surveys, staff suggestion boxes or forums that focus on specific business issues. This will help staff feel valued and involved.
2. Keep staff informed - have a clear internal communications strategy and keep staff updated on developments that may affect them. For example, you can keep employees informed through intranet updates, email communications and face-to-face meetings. Good communication helps grow trust within your organisation.
3. Show your appreciation - if staff have suggested new ideas or different ways of doing things, you should acknowledge their efforts. Respond to the feedback you receive - explain why you aren't going to act on an idea and reward ideas that are implemented. This can also incentivise other staff to engage.
4. Establish the right culture - strive to create a working environment that is open and inclusive, where staff feel valued and supported. Create a culture where staff are not afraid to challenge how things are currently done and are willing to suggest new ideas.
5. Empower your staff - give employees the autonomy to get the job done. Ensure staff understand the importance of their role and where they fit into the organisation's plans. Let them take responsibility for achieving business goals and new projects or challenges. This will help staff feel trusted, develop their skills and may lead to more efficient ways of doing things.