Why bother with employee engagement? Before I go on, I fully acknowledge that there are many great leaders out there who really ‘get’ employee engagement and whose instinctive answer to my question would be along the lines of ‘if I don’t pay attention to employee engagement, I might as well tear up my business strategy and hand the keys back now.’
But in my time in business I’ve also seen the other side of the debate; the leaders who think that employee engagement is ‘fluffy’ and therefore a distraction which takes away from day-to-day business necessities. They, and others, point to numerous surveys which indicate that engagement isn’t working or that employees today are as disengaged as they have ever been and wonder why they should waste energy and focus on something which isn’t delivering.
Now let’s switch the perspective around. Why are there so many surveys and reports on employee engagement and why is so much emphasis placed on employees not being as engaged as they might? Quite simply, when employee engagement works it brings multiple benefits; so when it isn’t working, it is a cause for concern and comment. In a way it is the potential which employee engagement can bring that leads to the negative reports which are generated when it fails.
So what are the benefits of employee engagement? Well if I were to answer that fully I would be writing another book but it is probably worth spending a little time in outlining just a few of the ways in which employee engagement can benefit an organisation.
Benefits of employee engagement for employees
It may seem strange to start with the employees themselves, but after all they are the ones whose engagement is at the heart of the debate. So how do they benefit from their own engagement? Quite simply, when employees are engaged they stop being cogs in the machine and start being part owners of business success. This feeds through into their attitude, their enjoyment and their relationships with each other.
When employees are engaged, staff turnover is reduced and absence as a result of sickness is reduced as people come together in a cohesive whole with the sole aim of delivering the strategy and producing excellence.
Benefits of employee engagement for managers
With employee longevity and ownership holding sway, life becomes far easier for managers and leaders throughout the organisation. With staff turnover being reduced, managers can concentrate on working with their people in order to continually boost skills and knowledge levels. This becomes a self-feeding spiral of improvement in which employees start to take responsibility for their own development, leaving managers to put all their efforts into delivering the vision and strategy.
Benefits of employee engagement for customers
When highly skilled employees and managers take responsibility then customers feel the benefit. Personal accountability and a sense of ownership lead to outstanding levels of customer service. Moreover, as the organisation becomes more innovative it looks to deliver genuine solutions which meet real customer needs.
Benefits of employee engagement for the organisation
All of the above results in a benefit for the organisation in terms of turnover, profitability, customer loyalty, employee longevity and reputation. In fact, when you look at all the benefits which employee engagement can bring to an organisation, it is surprising that it does not appear more regularly in the top list of priorities for leaders. Is engagement fluffy? Not at all! Rather, it is a core deliverer of business success.