The following content was adapted from WorkHound’s latest e-book, The Modern Leader’s Handbook for Employee Engagement. For more information and further reading, download the complete guide.
Employee engagement is crucial for modern businesses. Studies continually show that highly engaged workplaces outperform their less-engaged counterparts across many key business metrics. Recognizing this, today’s employers need to proactively foster a culture where workers feel valued, connected, and motivated —and learn how to tie these values back to company goals.
Management expert and college professor William A. Kahn’s framework of employee engagement identifies three core dimensions of engagement: cognitive, emotional, and physical engagement.
Khan’s research shows that effective leadership nurtures these dimensions, and that fully engaged workers experience a balanced combination of deep concentration on their tasks (cognitive), positive emotional connection to their work (emotional), and active involvement (physical). This approach creates a workplace environment where employees find meaning in their work and have a desire to positively impact their organization.
In addition to these key considerations, it is also important to consider the generational differences within the workforce. Millennials, for example, are a growing segment of the workforce who tend to prioritize career development and personal growth. On the other hand, older generations such as Gen X and baby boomers are more focused on role clarity and stability in their jobs. Understanding these generational differences can help leaders build more authentic relationships across the workforce.
An effective engagement strategy should be tailored to meet the specific needs of your workers — keeping their cognitive, emotional and physical needs in mind, while also recognizing the dynamics among different age groups.
Research shows that managers can account for up to 70% of the variance in engagement levels among employees. That’s a lot of influence to wield! Knowing this, organizations need to be highly selective about who they hire and promote to leadership positions.
Leadership styles obviously vary, but for our explorations, we have broadly classified them into three primary styles: autocratic, transformational, and servant leadership.
Autocratic leaders focus on efficiency but often fail to deeply engage employees. In contrast, transformational leaders inspire their teams by aligning individual and company goals, while servant leaders prioritize personal growth and development of employees. For a thriving company culture and higher employee engagement, it’s essential to consider these leadership qualities when hiring and promoting individuals to leadership roles.
A healthy culture is one rooted in trust, open communication, and mutual respect. It doesn’t just prioritize the outcomes of work but also the experience of the workforce. By focusing on these core values, leaders can create an environment where employees are committed to their work and also feel valued as integral parts of the collective mission and vision.
Communication is the bedrock of effective engagement, and in many ways, it’s the road that leads to all others. Transparent, two-way communication is critical for not just building your engagement strategy, but also executing and sustaining it.
In many ways, communication is the road that leads to all others. Effective communication is not only transparent, but also an open two-way channel that serves as the bedrock for your engagement strategy.
Once you’ve established your strategy and you’re ready to execute your engagement plan, it’s important to measure success. By measuring your engagement, you will be able to readily identify areas of improvement, track progress of initiatives and trends, and make data-driven decisions to improve the employee experience.
There are multitudes of ways to measure engagement, but the most common are annual surveys, pulse surveys, exit interviews, and real-time feedback.
Annual surveys are generally simple to execute and useful for providing thematic insights and historical comparisons. However, because the analysis is only done on an annual basis, it relies on outdated data and a slow feedback loop, making annual surveys less effective for timely problem-solving. Pulse surveys aim to solve this dynamic and are conducted more often, typically monthly or quarterly, offering more timely feedback and capturing some engagement trends. Pulse surveys too may lack detailed insights, however, and often focus on specific scenarios, which doesn’t always reflect broader employee sentiments.
Exit interviews yield valuable feedback and insights into why disengaged employees may have left the company. However, they come too late to retain the employee. Not only that, they also depend on willing participation, and offer no chance to act on the feedback to prevent the loss of talent.
Finally, we have real-time anonymous feedback, which provides immediate, actionable insights and prevents issue escalation — especially when collected anonymously. However, this approach will demand continuous management and is only as effective as the leadership’s willingness to act earnestly on the feedback received.
Employee engagement goes beyond simply creating a positive work environment; it directly impacts a range of business outcomes. Gallup research shows that engaged workplaces are marked by 14% higher productivity, an 81% decrease in absenteeism, 43% less turnover, 10% improved customer ratings, and significant gains in sales and profitability, thereby outperforming competitors.
As a leading employee feedback platform, WorkHound serves as an instrumental tool for organizations to build engagement, improve the employee experience, and cultivate a culture of excellence. By providing a secure, anonymous channel for real-time employee feedback, WorkHound helps organizations build the trust they need to drive better business results.
To learn more about employee engagement, download a full copy of The Modern Leader’s Handbook for Employee Engagement. To learn more about how WorkHound can support your business, contact us any time.