Employee engagement is arguably the single largest indicator of business success. When employees are committed to the organizations they work for and actively seek to advance their employers’ missions, productivity and profitability improve. In fact, research consistently shows that companies with engaged employees regularly outperform their competition.
We were recently asked about the characteristics of engaged employees, dangers of disengagement and how to maintain a culture of engagement. In this Ask the HR Expert, Jeanette Coleman, Director of Human Resources, shares her expertise. Coleman holds a Masters in Human Resource Management, is SPHR and SHRM-SCP Certified, and has been with Axcet for almost 15 years.
Characteristics of Engaged Employees
Engaged employees are more than happy workers who are satisfied with their jobs; they are hard-working team players who put in extra effort. They exceed performance expectations and are emotionally invested in their employers’ successes, because they:
- Are focused, loyal and enthusiastic;
- Understand how their contributions benefit the organization;
- Seek professional development opportunities; and
- Feel connected to their colleagues and superiors.
For employees to be truly engaged, they need a clear line of site between what they do every day and how that helps the company reach its goals and succeed.
When your team exhibits these desirable traits, it’s easy to understand how employee engagement is a key differentiator when it comes to growth and innovation. Prioritizing engagement can create a culture that motivates, empowers, challenges and respects employees, improving your company’s ability to attract and retain top talent.
The Danger of Disengagement
Conversely, companies with even a few disengaged employees can experience barriers to success. Workers who create conflict, lack motivation and emotional connections, complain, withdraw or often are absent (physically or mentally) can drain morale and stunt productivity. Disengaged employees cling to the status quo and resist change, and they become a burden on the business.
According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace poll, only 30 percent of employees nationally enjoy their jobs and feel engaged and connected. That means 70 percent of workers are disengaged.
Encouraging Employee Engagement
A clear mission, open communications and mutual respect are vital when maintaining a culture of employee engagement. When employers openly express their visions and values, employees understand the purpose, cause or beliefs driving the business. Knowing why the company exists helps employees appreciate the roles they play in achieving organizational objectives.
But it's not just visions and values. Axcet HR Solutions Director of Human Resources Jeanette Coleman goes on to say, "for employees to be truly engaged, they need a clear line of sight between what they do every day and how that helps the company reach its goals and succeed."
Two-way communication also is imperative. If management demonstrates that it fully considers thoughts employees express through various channels and regularly offers constructive feedback and recognition, employees feel valued and are more likely to engaged.
The same is true if they are supported at work. Employers should provide employees plenty of training opportunities, time-management and collaboration tools, health and wellness benefits and ways to connect professionally and socially with co-workers and leadership. These activities help create mutual respect and build trust.
When employers and employees fulfill their commitments to each other, they further one another’s interests. Everyone benefits, and the company wins.