What is workplace engagement?
Employees coming to work every day, feeling driven, wanting to contribute to the organization and are constantly taking initiative in their work— this is workplace engagement.
Workplace engagement is a concept quite separate from workplace satisfaction. An employee who is more satisfied with the conditions at their workplace may not necessarily deliver better performance. In fact, you’ll find that the conditions which make some employees “satisfied” with their jobs are often the same ones which frustrate and dissatisfy high-performing members of the organization. Top performers constantly welcome change, going out of their comfort zone in order to grow. Unlike low-performers who fear risk and will try to avoid accountability where possible, these are the members who are most likely to introduce innovative solutions and become role models in the firm.
The corporate world encourages the use of “workplace satisfaction” surveys. The results obtained therein may be real, but often serves to lower the standards of performance and motivation expected of employees. Having “satisfied” employees may mean that you have no issues with attendance and adherence to work hours, but it does not prevent your employee from being enticed away by a competing firm for a 10% raise. Satisfaction is the state of being complacent and frankly, that’s not enough.
Employees who are emotionally and personally-invested in the organization and its goals—that is the real evidence of workplace engagement. As an employer, you ought to inculcate emotional commitment in your firm because it means your employees actually care about the work and wellbeing of your organization. The idea is for them not to be solely motivated by a paycheck or a promotion, but also by a desire to fulfill the objectives of the team. If they’re engaged, you’ll observe an increase in commitment in the form of voluntary effort. For instance, your website developer may take the initiative to work over the weekend even if he’s not being paid for the additional effort. Your retail clerk may pick up the litter on the floor without being asked. That’s the kind of commitment that would make a real difference in your organization.
Research has shown that companies with engaged workers have 6% higher net profit margins, and engaged companies have five times higher shareholder returns over five years. In the words of Campbell’s Soup’s former CEO, Doug Conant, “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” Employee engagement unlocks the untapped potential of your employees and allows your firm to take it up a notch. If you want to achieve better business outcomes, this is the way to go.