Every organization has the same questions. Are employees engaged with the organization and each other? Are they committed to the organization’s mission? Do they feel their work is noticed, important, and appreciated?

And the big question: How important is it for employees to feel engaged and how does that benefit the organization?

An engaged workforce benefits the organization in many ways. These proven strategies keep employees engaged and motivated, whether they work on-site or remotely.

Engagement Goes Straight to the Bottom Line

Numerous studies have shown that an engaged workforce has a significant effect on productivity and profits. Here are a few highlights:

  • Companies with engaged workforces boast an average of 19% higher operating income and 28% higher growth in earnings per share (EPS) than the average employer. Companies with unengaged workforces averaged 34% less operating income and 11% lower EPS growth. —Towers Watson Global Workforce Study
  • Highly engaged employees are twice as likely as their less-engaged peers to be top performers. — Watson Wyatt WorkUSA Report
  • When employees are highly engaged, their companies enjoy 26% higher employee productivity, have lower turnover risk, and are more likely to attract top talent. The companies with highly engaged employees earned 13% greater total returns to shareholders over the past five years. Highly engaged workers miss 20% fewer days of work, and three-quarters of them exceeded or far exceeded expectations in their most recent performance review. —Watson Wyatt WorkUSA Report

Highly engaged workers are also much more resilient and much more supportive of organizational change.

What if the workforce isn’t engaged? A study by the Corporate Executive Board concluded that more than 70% of all U.S. workers are disengaged, and their lost productivity costs the economy $370 billion a year.

How to Measure Engagement

Employee engagement should be measured annually, and organizations should pay attention to critical data in three areas.

First, look at the company’s metrics, such as turnover, productivity, profitability, customer loyalty, and other key performance indicators. Break down those numbers by department, team, or business unit. Compare those metrics to industry averages.

Second, survey employees. Survey questions will vary by organization and industry, but some questions are universal. How do employees feel about management and the organization’s direction and values? Would they recommend the organization to a job-seeking friend?

Finally, survey customers or stakeholders. Do employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction correlate? Are there changes to the customer experience that can affect employee engagement as well?

Creating Engagement Surveys

Follow these guidelines for developing an employee engagement survey:

  • Include questions that could be asked every year or more frequently. This will provide a baseline of employee engagement.
  • Keep language-neutral or positive. For example, ask, “Is our line-to-staff ratio correct for a company our size?” instead of “Are there too many staff for a company our size?”
  • Focus on behaviors. Good questions probe supervisors’ and employees’ everyday behaviors and relate those behaviors to customer service whenever possible.
  • Beware of loaded and uninformative questions. For example, questions such as “Do you look forward to going to work on Mondays?” elicit a “no” response easily, even from engaged workers.
  • Keep the survey length reasonable. Overly long surveys reduce participation rates and may skew responses.
  • Consider what you’re saying about the organization’s values. Question selection tells employees what the organization cares enough to ask about.
  • Ask for a few written comments and include a few open-ended questions.
  • Do more than one type of survey, each with different questions, frequencies, and audiences. For example, “pulse” surveys are brief, more-frequent surveys that address specific issues or are given to specific segments of the workforce, and they can take place between annual surveys.

If you work with a vendor that offers a “standard” list of questions, consider tailoring questions to reflect your organizational needs.

How to Engage Employees

For the best results, employers should create an overall engagement strategy that goes beyond measuring engagement scores. Ideally, an employee engagement strategy should be created before administering an engagement survey. An effective plan will detail these five components:

  • How the strategy will be communicated
  • How action areas will be identified
  • What measurable outcomes will be used to evaluate progress
  • What specific actions will be taken to address survey results
  • How the engagement strategy will be sustained

The strategy will depend upon the organization’s priorities, but some elements of employee engagement are universal.

Every organization should motivate and appreciate employees with recognition programs, such as employee of the month, awards for specific achievements, and unsung hero awards for people or business units whose contributions may not be as obvious as, say, sales figures.

Make sure managers offer helpful and actionable feedback. Surveys show that 57% of employees value constructive feedback over praise. Keep employees in the loop about their performance.

Other activities include:

  • TGIF Meetings, where senior leadership transparently shares what happened that week and employees can ask questions and voice concerns without repercussions
  • Social events, such as potlucks, trivia contests, virtual happy hours, book/article clubs, virtual water coolers, and other activities
  • Celebrations of birthdays, anniversaries, and personal milestones
  • New hire onboarding and ongoing mentoring
  • Ongoing awards and peer-to-peer recognition, friendly competitions between teams or business units
  • Activities that promote work/life balance, such as the opportunity to work remotely or to take time off to volunteer

Above all, make sure that managers are fully on board and support engagement activities. Studies show that people leave managers, not companies, and ensuring that managers are actively participating in and managing employee engagement is paramount.

In short, employee engagement benefits both employees and the organization itself. For help in designing, measuring, and managing an employee engagement program, contact the Lindenberger group at 609-730-1049 or send us an email.