You’d have to have been living under a rock in the business world not to have heard the term employee engagement. But while many managers recognize the term, surprisingly few actually understand exactly what it means and how utilising it could help to grow their business.
Employee engagement is not a new HR fad or a meaningless buzzword. In fact the ideas behind the successful engagement of employees have been around for thousands of years. It’s said that Alexander the Great was so successful in conquering lands far and wide and building one of the ancient world’s greatest empires because his army was so well engaged and loyal.
So what exactly does employee engagement mean and how can conducting an engagement survey benefit your business?
Employee engagement: a definition
Employee engagement is not a distinct concept and there are many factors that may influence the level of engagement for each individual employee. The fact that engagement is linked with human behaviour, rather than concrete actions, also means it can be quite difficult to measure without careful planning.
There is no one true definition of the term and you might like to think about adopting or constructing a definition that makes the most sense for your organisation.
You can think of employee engagement as being an emotional investment that employees make into the organisation for which they work, which provokes them into higher performance, increased efficiency and an eagerness to strive for and achieve company goals.
Engaged employees don’t just work for the salary they receive at the end of the month or in hopes of receiving a raise or promotion. Rather, they are committed to the success of the company as a whole and see themselves as an integral part of the organisation, instead of as a separate individual.
Employee engagement is not the same as job satisfaction, employee happiness or commitment, although all these things are linked. An actively engaged employee will be loyal to the company and this will reflect in their actions and work achievements, regardless of how happy they may or may not be while at work.
How is employee engagement measured?
Employee engagement surveys are the modern answer to how engagement at work can be effectively measured. Once a measure of current engagement has been taken, it is possible to take steps towards putting an action plan in place in order to increase the level of engagement overall.
Measuring employee engagement on a regular basis is an important factor in employee retention, productivity levels, performance, job satisfaction and other factors that have a direct link to the success of your company.
There are many ways you can get a feel for the general level of employee engagement within your organisation. Informal discussions, employee appraisals and carrying out leaver’s questionnaires can all help you to become more aware of engagement levels within your organisation.
However, carrying out a formal engagement survey will provide you with concrete figures and data so that you can go forward with an action plan for improvement, which can be accurately measured.
Before planning an engagement survey, it is helpful to know some background as to how the modern engagement survey came about and how they are being used in different organisations today. (link to history of employee engagement article).
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