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Increase Employee Engagement: How to Do It, Why It Matters

April 16, 2013
at 10:20 am PST

When everything seems focused on numbers – dollar signs, production output, development timelines – some organizations focus even more tightly on digits. It’s a logical reaction, but a risky one if it’s at the expense (so to speak) of human aspects like employee engagement.

Employees are consistent when asked what contributes most to their satisfaction, according to research from BlessingWhite: Among eight options, nearly 50% put their top two choices as “more opportunities to do what I do best” and “career development opportunities and training.” The lower their engagement level, the higher they rank “greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do,” which supports related findings, including:

  • Trust in executives appears to have more than twice the impact on engagement than trust in immediate managers.
  • Executives have to demonstrate consistency in words and actions, communicate often in depth, and align business practices and behaviors throughout the organization.

Employee engagement levels typically fall when people feel they’re not getting what they value, namely opportunity and information. The impact of lower engagement shows up in what people contribute. BlessingWhite sums it up as “the engaged stay for what they can give, the disengaged stay for what they can get.”

Benefits of High Engagement
A recent Gallup report on employee engagement states “employee engagement strongly relates to key organizational outcomes in any economic climate. And even during difficult economic times, employee engagement is an important competitive differentiator for organizations.”

Moral of the story? Don’t turn too sharply toward watching numbers and lose sight of the people. As I see it, employee engagement has two primary dimensions:

  • Social: Trusted connections with executives, managers, and peers
  • Logical: Access to the tools and information necessary to do their jobs, collaborate with others, and develop skills

Here’s where humans and numbers come together. Gallup measured the impact of employee engagement in a study that included about 1.4 million employees across geographies and industries. Business units that ranked in the top 25% of their organizations for employee engagement showed:

  • 22% higher profitability
  • 21% higher productivity
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 37% lower absenteeism
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)

Those aren’t trivial numbers. Who wouldn’t want to improve their team’s profitability and productivity? Improve customer satisfaction?

Improve Employee Engagement with Collaboration
As the work environment becomes more mobile and dispersed, it’s challenging to keep employees fully engaged. So what can you do? The following use cases provide examples of how collaboration technology can play a part.

Support Teleworkers and Branch Offices: Help employees maintain work/life balance by providing flexible working options and improving workforce recruitment, retention and satisfaction. Allow remote and branch offices to stay closely connected to the main office with access to all the resources, applications, and files they would have in the main office, plus instant visual collaboration, whether for team, 1:1, or customer meetings.

Deliver Online Events and Training: Two key benefits of online events and coursework are clarity and opportunity. Moving online for live and on-demand events, meetings, and training provides all employees with access to the same information, where and when they need it. Allow employees to earn and maintain professional certifications via on-demand and live training. Companies using video for training increased employee productivity by 4% and reduced voluntary turnover by an average of 7.7% over 12 months, according to Aberdeen.

Incorporate Video into Meetings: Build trust and understanding across time zones within cross functional and diverse teams through rich and frequent video communications. According to research from the Economist Intelligence Unit, 53% of business leaders strongly agree that video enables richer, more productive relationships with colleagues, clients and suppliers.

Employee engagement is about more than making people feel good about their jobs and pay attention in meetings. And employee engagement is even more vital as economic stress levels increase. The more connected employees feel, the easier it is for them to support your organization’s objectives.

~Kim

Explore the Collaboration Use Case Tool to learn different ways collaboration technology can help you meet business imperatives. Find benefits, statistics, case studies, research, and products.

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7 Comments.


  1. David Deans

    Kim, you said “it’s challenging to keep employees fully engaged.”

    That reminds me of when I researched U.S. productivity stats back in January, 2012. I cam across the following Gallup study results at that time http://bit.ly/tFPuLB — I was shocked by the findings.

    Thank you for sharing an update on this important topic.

       0 likes

    • April 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      David ~ Thanks for sharing the Gallup study. The research on employee engagement overall is very interesting. Many studies show low levels of employee engagement are the norm. Yet, high engagement correlates with long lists of compelling business benefits, including higher productivity, higher retention rates, and lower costs. It certainly seems like an investment worth pursuing.

      And beyond the business benefits, I personally prefer to work with happier people in a positive work environment!

         1 like

  2. April 18, 2013 at 3:37 am

    Hi Kim – Excellent data points and very well said.

    Best,
    Veronica

       0 likes

    • April 19, 2013 at 10:13 am

      Thanks very much Veronica!

         0 likes

  3. April 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Great post- This is definitely an issue that I think is often overlooked. It seems one important factor for employee engagement that supports both forms (social & logical) is communication. There is a vast need for some type of open forum for corporate engagement, momentum building and communication. More often than not companies are not effectively communicating and collaborating.

    The role of an internal communications officer is something I think will eventually emerge to address this for companies that do not already have one in place. Additionally, I think we will see more forms of corporate communication platforms such as Cisco Jabber develop to address this.

       0 likes

    • April 19, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Jessica ~ Thanks for the feedback and contribution to the topic. I agree — there’s a need for more ways and places to communicate. There’s also a need to look at organizational culture and whether the environment is one that encourages open communication and collaboration. If employees don’t feel safety or value in contributing, all the great technology and processes will gather dust.

         1 like

  4. April 19, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I couldn’t agree more :)

       0 likes