With today’s talent scarcity spurring a candidate-driven job market, your company’s ability to connect with its workers is more important than ever. It’s crucial to understand the role employee engagement plays in business success and how to make it a top priority.
High levels of employee engagement have long been linked to improved business outcomes, including increased retention, higher productivity rates and lower absenteeism.
Despite these benefits, many employers still struggle to maintain meaningful engagement levels with their workers. If your company wants to improve its hiring and workforce management outcomes, making employee engagement a priority may help.
This blog takes a closer look at what employee engagement is and what factors impact it.
what is employee engagement?
We can define employee engagement as the level of commitment and enthusiasm your workers have toward the company. Don’t confuse engagement with job satisfaction, which solely measures employees’ level of happiness on the job. Employees can be happy with their job duties and working conditions and still feel disengaged in the workplace. On the other hand, employees can feel engaged at work but not satisfied with their current roles.
Why is employee engagement so important? Because engaged employees tend to be more optimistic, productive and team-oriented than disengaged workers. In general, engaged employees are hard-working and have the willingness to contribute positively to the company.
With barely one-in-five workers stating that they are engaged in the workplace, the rise of the ‘Great Resignation’ and 31% admitting to ‘Quiet Quitting’ should come as no surprise. These disengaged employees don’t have the same investment in the company or the company’s success. All too often, disengaged workers are satisfied with completing the bare minimum and then going home.
At a time when talent scarcity and the growing skills gap are putting added pressure on companies to meet production demands, such a high level of disengagement is not sustainable. It’s crucial to take steps now to improve engagement throughout the workplace
eight factors that impact employee engagement
Before you can take any steps to improve employee engagement throughout the workplace, you must first understand what factors directly impact engagement. Here’s a look at the top eight factors impacting employee engagement in the workplace.
1. trust in the company
Trust between employers and their employees is one of the key components of employee engagement. Simply put, if your employees don’t have trust in the company, it can be difficult—if not impossible—to build any type of meaningful engagement.
Let’s look at an example. Say your organisation is requesting input regarding a newly implemented workplace process using feedback tools, such as surveys or interviews. The level of participation and engagement from your workers directly relates to how much they trust the company. If your workers feel the company doesn’t really care about their opinions, that it will be used against them or that it won’t take action based on their feedback, they are less likely to provide any useful input.
To build trust with your workers, it’s important to focus on effective communication, transparency and fairness in the workplace.
2. alignment with personal values
Today’s workers, especially those in the younger generation, want to work for a company that has a purpose and mission aligned closely with their own personal values. For example, our 2022 Randstad Workmonitor study shows that 34% of workers globally would be willing to take a drop in pay for a position that allows them to make a difference in the world.
Not all companies can offer these types of positions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a company mission that aligns with your workers’ values. For instance, our Workmonitor 2023 also reveals that 36% of UK workers wouldn’t accept a new job offer from a company that didn’t prioritise diversity and equity in the workplace. This percentage rises to 49% for Gen Z workers and 46% for Millennials.
Environmental, social and governance trends, such as climate change and diversity in the workplace, are principles that many companies can promote while simultaneously connecting with employees.
3. efficient leadership
When it comes to influencing workplace engagement, the leadership of the company is critical. In fact, managers often have the most direct contact with your workers, and they have the power to promote engagement in the workplace or hinder it.
A recent study shows that 57% of workers admit to quitting their jobs due to a bad manager. It’s not likely that lack of engagement is the only reason these workers quit, but it does show the significant role managers play in your workers’ decision-making.
Some managers simply don’t have the aptitude or capabilities to be strong leaders. One study reveals that companies select the wrong person for management 82% of the time. In these cases, employers may need to re-evaluate their internal promotion policies and practices. There are many other managers, however, that only need the right tools and training to effectively promote engagement in the workplace..
Keeping your employees engaged also means making sure you communicate to them on a regular basis. Having regular town halls, info updates or just to touch base. Especially when a lot is happening and there are insecure times, having regular information helps employees feel more at ease. Even at moments when there is no decision made yet, even saying this is crucial information for your employees. Managers should make sure they plan these moments.
It's critical for your company to develop a strategy for identifying which employees have the right skills to become managers and to provide managers with employee engagement ideas, tools and training.
4. pride in work
According to Harvard Law professor, Linda Hill, “a clear and compelling purpose is the glue that binds a group of individuals together." Think about it. The first step of any workplace collaboration effort is to develop team goals and objectives. These goals, then, become the focal point of the team.
Your workers want to be part of a team and feel like they belong. They want to take pride in their work and see how their roles play a greater purpose in the overall success of the business. It’s through this sense of joint purpose that employee engagement can take hold and flourish.
Remote and hybrid work schedules can make this type of engagement more difficult. Through regular team meetings, frequent check-ins and constant feedback, engagement in the workplace, even in remote environments, can flourish.
It can also be difficult to build this sense of purpose and pride among deskless workers. These workers encompass nearly 80% of the global workforce and account for almost all shift workers, especially those working in manufacturing, healthcare and retail. Deskless workers tend to focus on their daily tasks, workplace safety and productivity and spend less time attending company meetings and participating in collaborative projects.
For these roles, manager interaction is crucial. Managers can help employees feel valued at work by providing adequate feedback and consistent recognition.
5. safe work environment
A safe work environment promotes employee engagement, and high levels of engagement in the workplace can significantly reduce the number of workplace incidents. Studies show that employees who aren't engaged in the workplace experience 60% more accidents than engaged workers. As you already know, safety issues in the workplace can lead to higher turnover, increased costs, losses in productivity and decreased job satisfaction.
It's up to the company to provide the necessary tools, training, practices and policies to create a safe workplace environment. However, it’s the role of managers, mentors and trainers to ensure these practices and policies are followed, the tools are used correctly and that all employees are fully trained. This requires communication, organisation and engagement.
Your employees must also be able to communicate any safety questions and concerns and feel as if leadership is listening and ready to take action if necessary. It's only through this level of engagement between company leadership and employees that you can achieve meaningful results.
6. enhanced employee experience
Many employers erroneously believe that employee engagement and employee experience are the same things. This is simply not true. The employee experience is the journey a worker takes from the first contact with the company (when applying for the position) to their exit from the company. While employee engagement should be a critical part of the employee experience, it is not a specific process, course or timeframe.
Rather, employee engagement is based on emotions, perceptions and feelings. It’s the level at which an employee feels committed to the company and its overall success. The earlier in the employee experience you can begin engagement, the better results you can achieve. The trick is to develop strategies to increase employee engagement during each stage of the employee experience.
7. clarity of job role
Developing a comprehensive job description is one thing. Having the details of this job description transfer into the actual role is another thing altogether. One of the top reasons new hires leave their positions so quickly is that the job doesn’t match the job description. This lack of job clarity right from the start can significantly damage employee engagement and increase new hire turnover rates.
New workers aren’t the only ones seeking more clarity regarding their roles and job duties. Workplaces are complex environments with many moving parts. It’s not uncommon for workplace processes to change and shift over time, requiring workers’ duties and responsibilities to also change and shift. Unfortunately, all too often, the workers are the last to find out. Oftentimes, managers assume that workers understand their new duties without ever fully clarifying who is responsible for what.
This can lead to confusion, frustration and disengagement — not to mention lower job satisfaction and reduced production. It’s up to leaders and managers to ensure that all workers fully understand their roles and what’s expected of them in the workplace. The good news is that your company can achieve higher levels of employee engagement by adding clarity to your workers’ job roles.
8. investment in personal growth
Engagement is a two-way street. If you want your employees to be committed and invested in the company, the company must be committed and invested in its workers. Today’s engaged workers want to know their companies offer career development and training opportunities within the organisation.
According to our 2022 Randstad Workmonitor, 76% of global workers believe training and development programs are important for future careers. Additionally, 53% of workers want to use these newly learned skills and experiences to grow within their current roles. This is good news for employers. It shows that employees want training, but they also want to remain invested in the company.
You can use a career development program and employee training options to advance employee engagement within the company and increase workers’ commitment to the company. It’s important to create an employee training and development program that is transparent, unbiased and available to all workers. Without employee involvement, your efforts could have the reverse effect and hinder employee engagement.
Your company should develop a process for measuring employee engagement, such as employee surveys and exit interviews, so it can gauge this level accurately. You also want to have effective employee engagement tools and strategies in place to boost engagement levels with your workers.
Download our factsheet for a concise version of the main factors impacting employee engagement.