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Terms and Definitions

What is employee engagement?

Updated: May 23, 2024

Employee engagement definition and meaning

Employee engagement refers to initiatives that employers use to foster employee motivation, satisfaction, and a positive work environment. Engagement practices cover a wide range, from a smooth onboarding process and adopting a healthy work culture to providing amenities that contribute to employee well-being and productivity.

More about employee engagement

According to research by Quantum Workplace, “Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward the organization they work for, their team, and their work.”

 

Furthermore, Quantum’s research found that employee engagement consists of three essential characteristics:

  • The employee’s connection to their work
  • How connected they feel to their immediate coworkers
  • How connected they are to the company as a whole

 

Though individual answers may vary, employees typically fall into one of the following four groups when it comes to their level of engagement.

  • Highly engaged: These employees view their workplace in a very favorable light and would readily recommend it as a great place to work. They are top performers with a high level of commitment toward the company.
  • Moderately engaged: These employees have an average level of favorability regarding their work and workplace. They like working for their employer, but, for various reasons, are not fully engaged. As a result, they might not always perform well.
  • Barely engaged: These employees are apathetic about their job and tend to do the bare minimum to get by. In some cases, the low level of interest may lead them to look for another job.
  • Disengaged: These employees are disconnected from their work, employer, and most likely going through the motions. Because they have a negative view of the company, they could leave at any moment without giving advance notice. Their dissatisfaction may manifest as poor attitude, uncooperativeness, unreliability, and low productivity — which can rub off on other employees.

Five engagement statistics employers should know about

  • In 2023, only one-third of employees were engaged at work; two-thirds were disengaged.
  • Remote and hybrid employees are more engaged than onsite employees, indicating that flexibility plays a role in engagement.
  • The vast majority of executives say that high engagement results in happier customers.
  • Employers with the highest rates of engagement are 21% more profitable.
  • 58% of disengaged employees rank complacent leadership as the top reason.

 

Why employee engagement matters

Employees need to feel engaged at work to thrive professionally and contribute positively to the company’s success. Therefore, when engagement is average, low, or absent, the following may occur:

 

  • Decline in productivity
  • Decreased morale
  • Work-related stress
  • Reduced customer satisfaction
  • Higher turnover
  • Unhealthy work culture
  • Reduced profit margins

 

Conversely, high employee engagement may yield these benefits:

 

  • Better job performance
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Higher employee retention
  • Enhanced customer experience
  • Greater customer loyalty
  • Healthy work culture
  • Increased revenue

Ways to measure employee engagement

Measuring employee engagement is worthwhile because it sheds light into how employees’ feel about their job, coworkers, and the company, as well as their likelihood of staying with the organization.

 

Here are six of the most crucial employee engagement metrics to measure:

 

  • Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS): This metric determines how likely employees are to recommend their employer to others.
  • Job performance: This is based on the employee’s quality and quantity of work, level of efficiency, and overall effect on the company.
  • Employee satisfaction: Analyzes core aspects of the employee experience, including wages, benefits, working conditions, career development, recognition, work culture, and relationship with management and coworkers.
  • Absenteeism: An employee suffering from low engagement tends to take more time off from work.
  • Retention: Indicates the company’s ability to retain its employees. When engagement is high, retention rates are typically high as well.
  • Voluntary turnover: How many employees are leaving on their own, and why.

 

Based on these results, you can identify areas for improvement and strategize accordingly.

 

How to increase employee engagement

The specific strategies to apply depend on the necessary improvements. That said, the solutions should aim to boost the employee experience in some way.

 

Best practices include:

  • Engaging employees from the new-hire stage with a smooth onboarding process and a welcoming work atmosphere.
  • Assign work that motivates the employee and maximizes their potential.
  • Foster a low-stress work environment by delegating work based on employees’ capabilities.
  • Hire managers who understand the importance of motivating and inspiring their team.
  • Be clear about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in the workplace to maintain a culture of respect.
  • Offer benefits and perks that promote employee wellbeing, such as health insurance, paid time off, wellness program, 401(k), flexible work hours, child care assistance, financial education, and/or mental health resources.
  • Obtain employees’ input on organizational decisions affecting them, including those involving pay, benefits, assigned work, and working conditions.

 

Finally, steer clear of common pitfalls — such as viewing engagement as solely HR’s responsibility, over-relying on employee surveys, or not benchmarking employee metrics to get a baseline that can be improved upon.

Using employee engagement in a sentence

“To maintain high employee engagement levels, we not only make it a point to provide access to retirement savings programs, but we also provide a stipend for employees to take online classes.”

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