The good news for businesses is employee engagement is on the rise. When Gallup started measuring this metric back in 2000, 26 percent of employees reported feeling engaged at work — while 18 percent considered themselves actively disengaged. Those figures looked much more promising in 2019: a record-high 35 percent of employees felt engaged at work, with just 13 percent of the workforce considering themselves actively disengaged.
Still, while engagement has been steadily rising year over year, there’s a long way to go. Another way to look at the situation is more than two-thirds of employees are not yet engaged at work — which means a majority of workers may feel some combination of the following:
- Unclear about their roles within the company
- Lacking the opportunity to let their strongest skills shine
- Missing out on opportunities to continuing developing
- Lacking meaningful relationships with colleagues
- Working toward a unified mission or purpose
Why should companies care deeply whether or not their workforce is engaged? Because engagement affects almost every business outcome in the book — not to mention employee retention, to which the alternative is costly and time-consuming turnover.
While there are many ways to go about improving employee engagement across your organization, here are three tactics to get you started.
Optimize Relationships Between Managers & Team Members
As Harvard Business Review cites, research has shown managers are responsible for up to 70 percent of variance in worker engagement scores. This makes it highly worthwhile for companies to help managers optimize relationships with each and every team member.
Engaged employees tend to feel comfortable with their leaders and encouraged by them — when supported by open lines of communication and clear performance expectations. It’s very important for managers to grasp both the “hard” and “soft” aspects of the job; if they fall short in the interpersonal realm, it’s unlikely their teams will feel inspired to go above and beyond.
Besides making employee engagement an aspect of managers’ performance reviews, this is also an opportunity for companies to hire managers who are skillful in their roles and have what it takes to foster employee engagement.
Invest in Front-Line Data Analytics
Engagement affects how invested employees feel in their organizations’ success. Research from experts at the University of Nebraska at Omaha found participation in decision-making (PDM) is directly related to employee engagement within the context of work meetings.
So, one way to approach the task of improving workforce engagement is to empower employees to make confident, data-driven decisions. In order to do this, employees will need access to front-line data analytics. Today’s search analytics platforms allow employees to ask questions and look at data from different angels, considering how they can harness data insights to solve problems and drive better business outcomes.
Enterprises have long struggled with this aspect of engagement, as legacy analytics systems held employees at arm’s length from data. Instead, employees had to work through intermediary IT teams to get the reports they needed, which were often static, and worse, obsolete by the time they were ready. Connecting employees directly with data is an important step to getting them involved in all kinds of decision that in turn drive overall company performance. It’s a win-win situation when executed correctly.
Research from Harvard Business Review and ThoughtSpot found 69 percent of enterprises invested in empowering frontline employees to make important decisions saw increased employee engagement/satisfaction as a result.
Use Company Culture to Foster Engagement
Corporate culture sends a strong message to employees about their parts in the whole. It’s worth considering: What signals are employees getting from the top down? How is company culture helping employees feel important in the grand scheme of the org — or hindering them from feeling crucial?
Thankfully, there are many opportunities for companies to set a strong precedent here: continual onboarding and training, prioritization of shared goals and values, camaraderie between teams and levels, opportunities for upward mobility, autonomy, the ability to provide meaningful feedback, celebration of collective successes and more.
Improving employee engagement is an endeavor made up of many moving parts, but these are three of the best places to start. Improving managerial relationships, empowering employees to make decisions based on data and prioritizing engagement as part of overall company culture will go a long way.
Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.