What Is Employee Engagement and Why Is It Critical To Success?

By Mariah Collins, SHRM-CP on Mar 15, 2022
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Employee satisfaction, employee happiness and employee engagement are not interchangeable terms. Sure, you want your employees to be satisfied and happy, but satisfaction and happiness can come and go depending on circumstances. Employee engagement, on the other hand, is less fleeting because it taps into passion and lasting ties. 

RELATED: Benefits of Conducting an Employee Engagement Survey >>

What Is Employee Engagement?

Engaged employees are far more valuable to an organization than employees who are simply satisfied. That’s because engaged employees have a deep emotional connection to their work, their companies and their teams. They’ve embraced the organizational mission. They’re not just happy with their jobs; they’re passionate about and committed to their roles and to the company as a whole.

Engaged employees are easy to recognize. They:

  • Understand and are enthusiastic about the company’s purpose.

  • Are motivated, productive, high performers who accomplish more than average workers do.

  • Embrace their job responsibilities because they have a sense of how their roles contribute to the greater good.

  • Inspire colleagues.

  • Tend to be healthier.

  • Contribute ideas and take actions that improve processes, products, workflow and/or customer relationships.

  • Stay with your company longer.

employee engagement and your business' success

Why Employee Engagement Matters

High engagement leads to employees who voluntarily put in extra effort because they are committed to effecting the best possible business outcomes. They become brand advocates who speak highly of their employers both inside and outside the workplace.

Additionally, they miss work less often than their disengaged counterparts, who reportedly cost U.S. businesses $450 - $550 billion annually.                                

So, it follows that companies with higher levels of employee engagement are more successful. Research has shown teams that score within the top quarter percentile for employee engagement have 43% lower turnover than organizations that score in the bottom quarter percentile.     

Gallup has reported that, in addition to lower absenteeism and improved employee retention rates, engaged teams generate 21% greater profitability, 17% higher productivity and 10% better customer satisfaction levels than disengaged teams do. Other Gallup research has shown that disengaged employees have 64% more accidents than engaged employees do.

RELATED: How To Conduct an Employee Engagement Survey >>

Fostering greater employee engagement, then, is one of the best ways a small business can boost its bottom line. If your workers aren’t already engaged, improvement won’t happen overnight. But you can begin by surveying employees to identify their level of engagement and help you better understand where you can take action to create the biggest impact.

Because employees who love their jobs and the companies they work for not only are eager to carry out their prescribed duties but also take on additional responsibilities and do whatever they can to help their employers meet business goals, the effort is well worth the payback your company will receive.

RELATED: How To Choose Meaningful Employee Engagement Survey Objectives >>

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