Get employee engagement right and it can lead to financial success, better customer experience, a creative working culture, and help you attract (and keep) talented people. It’s also a key component of a successful communications strategy – but it can take time to embed it properly within your organisation.

As a PR agency, working with clients across all areas of communication inside and out, we are involved in developing employee engagement strategies. We look at how to get started.

What is employee engagement?

Ask any business leader this question and it’s likely that they’ll tell you not to confuse employee engagement with employee happiness. While employee happiness is often a by-product of employee engagement, to think of them in the same way would be a mistake.

Employee happiness may be simply a result of a pay rise or a change of salary, but the factors that influence employee engagement operate on a more emotional level.

Look for a definition of employee engagement and you’ll get a lot of variables. This is what Business Dictionary says: “[Employee engagement is the] emotional connection an employee feels toward his or her employment organisation, which tends to influence his or her behaviours and level of effort in work related activities.”

In other words, how do employees feel about the company’s values, mission and goals? Are they motivated by the company culture and do they have an emotional attachment to the overall purpose of the organisation?

Why does employee engagement matter to businesses?

  • Great work ethics – Imagine a workforce who can all answer ‘yes’ to the question in the last paragraph. Chances are, they will be more engaged and driven than those who can’t – and as a result, they’ll be more productive too, and more willing to put in the extra effort when it’s needed.
  • Increased profit and productivity – It follows that a more productive workforce will make a more profitable company. Disengaged staff will do just enough to get by, but engaged workers are more innovative, entrepreneurial and ambitious, leading to new ideas, developments, systems, and of course, clients and customers.
  • Better communications – Employee engagement is now regarded as an equally important part of the communications strategy as engaging external audiences. If your staff love your company’s products or services, they can be the best advocates for your brand on social media and in wider marketing.
  • Stronger working culture – People who feel a connection with the organisation they work for will be more likely to bond with their colleagues, strengthening the overall company culture.
  • Low staff turnover – This one’s pretty simple – if your staff believe in what they do, and feel like they are an important part of the organisation, they’ll stick around longer.

How to boost employee engagement in your workplace

Changing your company’s culture won’t happen overnight, so be prepared to see this as a long-term shift.

The best place to start is by getting an understanding of how engaged your employees are at work – and that means asking them! Gallup runs annual employment engagement surveys and helps organisations measure and improve engagement – they suggest that you start by asking employees the following questions:

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your fellow employees committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

These questions – and the answers you receive – will give you a strong indication of the ways that organisations successfully engage their employees.

Simple ways to start changing your workplace culture

Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report showed that many companies lean on annual performance reviews to provide employees with feedback and evaluation of their work. However, many employees – especially millennials – are looking for other things from their employer, such as a sense of purpose, opportunities to engage with each other and to develop their strengths.

  • Give staff ownership over a project or task so they feel connected to the company and its overall aims.
  • Take time to consider each member of staff’s point of view, and give them the opportunity to air their opinions constructively.
  • Be clear about your company’s mission and values and communicate this well with staff – if the directors aren’t sure what they stand for, then no one else be either.

What do you believe is important when it comes to employee engagement? Have you found anything that has been particularly successful – or maybe you are an employee who works in an organisation that is getting this right? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or tweet us @Ambitiouspr.

Find out more about how team AMBITIOUS can help your organisation with employee engagement as a key part of your overall communications strategy.

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