Posted by Sandy Yu on 5.16.2019
Many business leaders would argue that employee engagement has lost its momentum. In recent years, it's become more of a buzzword than a critical workplace issue.
And let’s face it, running a business takes a monumental amount of time. Meaning you don’t have time to waste on trending buzzwords. You want to focus on business strategies you know will propel your company and employees into long-term success.
Well, we believe employee engagement is so much more than a buzzword. It remains a critical aspect of organizational success. Even though the initial sparkle and shine may have worn off, disengagement is an issue negatively impacting employees and companies everywhere.
Here’s why you need to start treating employee engagement like it’s more than a buzzword:
Employee engagement is an empty buzzword if it's divorced from the reasons that matter. If your measure of it is simply “how happy your team is,” then you are probably looking in the wrong place.
Disengaged employees don’t work as hard, produce fewer results, and are more prone to unethical or dishonest behavior. As a result, they can fail to make the right decisions in the moment.
To build employee engagement, you must connect employees to your strategic goals and give them a greater purpose. Involve employees in the logic of the strategy, give them autonomy that is linked to key metrics like customer success, customer acquisition, and reputation.
Most business leaders pay little attention to employee retention because they do not consider the hidden costs of failing to engage employees. For blue-collar workers, especially, neglect from managers often leads to dissatisfaction at work and a high degree of turnover.
Employee engagement leads to decreased employee churn and -- like customer retention -- employee retention is critical for a business's success.
Wages account for only 22 percent of the reasons workers quit their jobs. The other factors are directly related to a lack of employee engagement, such as scant career opportunities, poor relationships with managers, and lackluster communication.
Engaging employees at the non-wage level can help to cut avoidable turnover and its related costs.
Younger employees change jobs frequently and see their workplace and job as an extension of who they are. These employees are more socially aware and socially conscious. That’s why they choose to work for companies that are good corporate citizens, ones that treat their employees well and provide opportunities to give back.
The highest form of employee engagement is part of a company's duty to be socially responsible. It shows in how they treat the environment, communities, customers, supply chain, and their employees.
This kind of employee engagement offers employees ways to give back. As a result, it’s steering the company's assets and social action as well as providing personal ways for employees to get involved, such as giving and volunteer activities.
I believe employee engagement is viewed as a buzzword because business leaders, for the most part, are themselves engaged. They have internal drive and a connection to their goals. Most (not all) people who have risen to the top of their industry feel that there is a purpose to what they do.
They see something bigger than themselves as the outcome. It could be a corporate mission that they believe in, or it could be a personal mission and a vision of success that propels them forward. And it’s hard for them to understand that not all people feel as connected to their jobs.
Also, business leaders often look at engagement in the wrong way. It has nothing to do with work ethic or a willingness to work hard. It has more to do with a sense of purpose. Just because the leader feels it, that doesn’t mean the employees do. And, business leaders tend to ‘blame’ the employees themselves for their lack of engagement. The fact is, engagement is a failure in management.
The workforce is changing. Millennials are even more insistent on ensuring their work fulfills a higher purpose. They want to feel that what they do matters. Not just how can they get to the top of the corporate ladder, but how can they make a difference.