Q&A: What Is Employee Engagement? (And How To Improve It)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 28 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Keeping employees engaged is the key to improving workplace productivity and increasing retention rates. Employee engagement is about improving the work culture and environment to encourage employees to show dedication towards organisational values and goals. Several factors affect staff engagement and managers can take steps to improve engagement throughout the organisation. In this article, we answer “What is employee engagement?”, understand why it is essential in the workplace and discover nine steps a manager can take to improve staff engagement in the workplace.

What is employee engagement?

The answer to the question, “What is employee engagement?” is that it is a workplace approach that measures employees' motivation, satisfaction and passion. Engaged employees feel emotionally connected and motivated to reach the organisation's goals and values. It differs from employee satisfaction because it primarily focuses on how happy an employee is at work. An employee can experience satisfaction within their role and effectively manage responsibilities without engaging with the workplace. By focusing on staff engagement rather than employee satisfaction, organisations can increase the happiness level of employees while enhancing performance and increasing the organisation's profitability.

Engaged employees care about their work and the organisation's performance. They are more productive and display a greater commitment to organisational goals and values. Also, staff engagement is critical for business success because it enhances job satisfaction and increases employee morale. Some common types of staff engagement might include:

  • providing unique challenges, responsibilities and roles to employees who have the potential to accomplish more than their daily tasks

  • rewarding employees whose work results in the company's profitability and growth

  • providing incentives that boost the morale of the employee

Related: Employer Vs. Employee: What Are The Fundamental Differences?

What is the importance of engaging employees?

Here are a few reasons engaging employees is necessary for an organisation:

  • Improves productivity: Engaged employees show a higher level of commitment and are more productive than others. Employees who feel good about their contribution are proud to work in the organisation and can easily outperform others.

  • Increases employee retention: Engaged employees show higher commitment and investment in their job and are less likely to switch jobs. Keeping the workforce engaged is essential to retaining the top talent.

  • Enhances company's culture: When a company explicitly states that staff engagement is a part of its culture, it can foster a work environment that depends on the company's core values. Engaged employees often model good behaviour that promotes a productive work culture.

  • Ensures lower absenteeism: Engaged employees care about their team's success, so they invest quality time and work hard to ensure the team's success. Such employees are likely to show lower absenteeism because they want to reach their goals faster.

  • Ensures better employee health: An engaged workplace shows more respect for employees' needs and encourages them to care for their health. Often, healthy employees are more productive and are less likely to remain absent from work.

Related: What Is Attrition Rate And How To Calculate It

How to improve engagement in the workplace

Here are some steps an organisation can follow to increase staff engagement in the workplace:

1. Understand the difference between engagement and satisfaction

Employee satisfaction means that employees are happy because they meet their goals but rarely exceed them. Staff engagement occurs when employees feel deeply connected and motivated towards the work they perform. Engaged employees work with other employees to achieve organisational goals. Understanding the difference between staff engagement and satisfaction is essential to building a workforce with a high satisfaction rate. When an organisation understands the difference between these two terms, it can effectively improve engagement.

Related: How To Motivate Employees: 18 Steps For Workplace Success

2. Set achievable organisational goals and communicate them to the employees

To foster a culture of engagement, communicating the organisational goals, mission and vision is essential. To engage employees and ensure they work productively, managers can help employees understand the organisational goals and values. They can do this during employee onboarding and training. When employees understand how their role contributes to organisational success, they feel motivated at the workplace.

3. Build a strong workplace culture

Employees spend a reasonable amount of time interacting with one another. So, creating a workplace culture that fosters good communication and makes employees feel comfortable and happy is essential for improving engagement. Organisations can create a strong workplace culture by conducting team-building activities, focusing on volunteering work and creating employee committees. This way, employees can contribute to company culture in a positive manner. Also, celebrating the success of every team member can ensure an engaged workplace.

4. Create an environment that accepts regular feedback

Employee reviews are common in the workplace and providing regular feedback can motivate employees to develop and improve their skills and performance. Even managers can benefit from receiving feedback from employees. When managers encourage, hear and accept employee feedback, they can identify different ways of making the workplace more motivated and engaged. Usually, organisations host feedback meetings to understand what employees think about the work environment. Companies can focus on suggestion boxes or comment cards if employees want to provide anonymous feedback. Open feedback between employees and leaders ensures that the organisation listens and appreciates everyone's opinions.

Related: 20 Examples Of Feedback In The Workplace (With Examples)

5. Show appreciation for employee contribution

Expressing gratitude for employees can evoke pride in their work. Showing appreciation for employees who regularly complete their everyday tasks and projects is a great way to improve staff engagement. When leaders and managers show appreciation for employees' contributions, it increases workplace motivation, productivity and employee performance. Performance reviews can increase engagement, enhance company productivity and reduce turnover.

Also, employees can encourage and appreciate one another, and such recognitions are valuable in the workplace. When employees publicly support one another, they build a strong company culture and create an environment where they can work together and celebrate success.

6. Provide employees with the resources they require

For employees to succeed in the workplace, providing them with the necessary tools and technologies is essential. When organisations pay close attention to the requirement of employees, they can provide them with things that they need to accomplish various tasks and goals. For example, an interior designer faces issues while creating a staircase design because they lack the supplies they need to complete their work. By asking employees what resources they require, a manager can make their job easier. The manager might learn that interior designers can benefit from a paid subscription to home design software.

When organisations provide employees with what they want, it can help them succeed and positively contribute to the company's overall success. Such employees remain engaged and motivated.

7. Create a culture of learning

Employees feel motivated and engaged when organisations enhance their learning curve and think about their future career growth. Creating an environment that fosters a culture of continuous learning can motivate employees to excel in their job. Such employees try to grow with the company. The organisation can create a culture of learning by regularly organising seminars from industry professionals, providing training and offering continuous learning courses. These courses can help employees learn new skills and become more efficient and productive.

Often, organisations offer higher study opportunities to employees. This upskills the employee and ensures they remain engaged and loyal towards the organisation. Learning in the organisation can happen when employees share tips, industry fundamentals and best practices with each other.

Related: What Is Corporate Culture? (Definition And Different Types)

8. Create a work environment free of fear or stress

Many organisations operate in a performance-based environment that can hamper the growth of employees. This is because such a work environment increases fear and gives rise to uncertainty in employees' minds. Empowering employees to make choices without requiring pre-approvals or approvals allows them time to grow at their pace.

So, focus on creating a business where employees do not receive punishment for every wrong decision because such a work environment can disengage employees. Employees in such organisations would never be willing to take calculative risks essential for success. Organisations can choose a more positive approach to keep the employees engaged.

9. Conduct engagement surveys

Conducting a staff engagement survey is essential to understand whether the engagement strategies work. When managers regularly send a survey asking employees about how they feel working with the organisation, employees can feel valued. During these surveys, give every employee a chance to express their opinion. Open and honest communication with employees can help an organisation understand what extra effort they require for motivating and engaging the workforce.

Explore more articles