John DealApril 15, 2024
Topics: Employee Experience

What Is Employee Engagement? (And How to Improve It)

Employee engagement is a critical factor of organizational success, so it’s important for talent management teams to prioritize it and better understand its impact. A measure of the commitment and enthusiasm employees have towards their work, employee engagement provides insights into factors that can affect retention, such as performance and morale. 

Common challenges like communication gaps and high turnover can make identifying engagement issues difficult, and the absence of reliable data collection systems further complicates the development of a robust engagement strategy.

In this article, you’ll learn about the importance of employee engagement, the crucial role of management in fostering a supportive and motivating environment, and the steps you can take to recognize and overcome obstacles. By exploring effective strategies and solutions, you can gain essential knowledge for engaging a workplace that boosts employee engagement and promotes operational efficiency. 

Learning what employee engagement is and what it involves is the first step in understanding its significance to the success of your employees and your organization.

What's Inside:

  • What is employee engagement?

  • Why is employee engagement important?

  • Who drives employee engagement?

  • What are the key drivers of employee engagement?

  • How to improve employee engagement

  • Using surveys to measure employee engagement

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is the level of commitment and loyalty an individual has toward their job and the organization they work for. It’s revealed through many factors, including the degree of enthusiasm employees show for their work; their feelings about their jobs, colleagues, managers, and the organization; and their physical and mental presence in the workplace. Employee engagement extends beyond job satisfaction, as engaged employees are invested in both their own goals and the success of the organization.

This dynamic benefits both employees and organizations by enhancing workplace culture, driving performance, and contributing to mutual growth.

Why Is Employee Engagement Important?

High employee engagement is critical for maintaining an empowered workforce, a competitive edge, and a healthy bottom line. Some benefits organizations may achieve by implementing a successful employee engagement initiative include:

Related: Why is Upskilling and Reskilling Important for Employee Development? 

Who Drives Employee Engagement?

HR and people managers typically manage the measurement, monitoring, and improvement of employee engagement. People managers have the most direct interaction with employees, so they can observe engagement levels and the factors that affect them on a daily basis. This insight allows them to identify concerns and mitigate them by offering employees support, recognizing their accomplishments, and fostering a positive work environment. 

Using feedback from people managers and employees, HR managers can design and implement overarching engagement strategies, policies, and programs. Many use HR technology to routinely gather employee feedback, measure engagement metrics, and provide skills development opportunities and resources that improve engagement.

Related: How to Track Employee Engagement: 5 Metrics to Improve Retention

The success of engagement strategies also depends on the collaboration with peers, mentors, HR Business Partners (HRBPs), and Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) specialists. Peers and mentors offer support and guidance, enhancing the work environment and culture while HRBPs align business objectives with employees and management, facilitating change management to support engagement initiatives. 

HRIS specialists leverage technology to analyze data on engagement, identifying trends and areas for improvement. By influencing key stakeholders and investing in change management, organizations can create a supportive ecosystem that cultivates high levels of employee engagement.

Managers responsible for employee engagement can focus on specific drivers, such as recognition, development opportunities, and a positive work culture, as part of their comprehensive strategies to enhance workplace satisfaction and performance.

What Are the Key Drivers of Employee Engagement?

The key drivers of employee engagement each play a distinct role in motivating and retaining employees. Implementing these drivers can significantly enhance the employee experience and, in turn, contribute positively to the organization's overall performance.

Driver

Description

Development opportunities

Employees have the tools they need for professional development and a clear path for career growth, so they feel invested in their work and future with the company.

Value

Employees feel valued because they know their contributions are important to their teams, boosting their motivation and commitment to success.

Purpose

Employees find their work gives them a sense of purpose, making their daily tasks more fulfilling and aligning their personal goals with the organization's mission.

Ability to use strengths

Employees make full use of their talents and skills at work, so they feel more engaged and satisfied with their jobs.

Employee resources

Employees can access the resources they need to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently, enabling them to meet or exceed job expectations.

Trust in leadership

Employees trust company leaders to guide the organization in the right direction, making them feel secure in their roles.

Employee authority

Employees feel they have a voice in decisions that affect their roles, fostering a sense of ownership and empowerment.

Recognition

Employees receive regular recognition for accomplishments, so they know their managers appreciate their contributions.

Communication

Employees feel confident sharing their thoughts and opinions because they know they can communicate openly with their colleagues and managers.

Trust in the organization

Employees trust in the mission and direction of the organization because its objectives align with the employees’ personal values.

Respect

Employees feel respected at work because their managers promote a positive and inclusive environment that helps them succeed.

Camaraderie

Employees enjoy working with other folks who challenge and respect them, understanding they have solid teammates supporting their daily efforts.

These drivers collectively contribute to a positive organizational culture where employees feel valued, supported, and engaged. Once you identify the drivers that are most critical to your organization, you can evaluate their presence in the workplace and develop an effective strategy for improving employee engagement, building a strong foundation for a motivated and committed workforce.

Learn why employee engagement is essential to creating a meaningful employee experience. Download the infographic

How to Improve Employee Engagement

Improving employee engagement requires a tailored approach to meet the needs of your organization. Below are strategies that can help enhance your employee engagement efforts.

Provide Professional Development Opportunities

Offering professional development opportunities is key to keeping employees engaged and invested in their careers. These may include training initiatives, upskilling and reskilling courses, hands-on projects, and mentorship programs. Using specialized HR software — like a talent marketplace — that provides personalized, curated learning recommendations tied to a career path can significantly enhance this process. By investing in your team's growth, you demonstrate a commitment to their future within the company.

Involve Management in Employee Engagement Strategies

If you want to increase engagement within your team, it’s important to ensure managers are engaged in developing and implementing effective strategies. Leaders should be advocates for and active participants in engagement initiatives, setting the tone for their teams. Training managers to recognize and address engagement issues — and empowering them to take proactive steps to improve them — can help you create a more cohesive and motivated workforce.

Listen to the Concerns of Your Team

Actively listening to your team's concerns shows that you value their input and well-being. You can achieve this through regular one-on-ones, feedback sessions, and anonymous surveys. By addressing these concerns promptly and effectively, you can solve immediate problems, build trust, and demonstrate that you prioritize your employees' experience and satisfaction.

Offer Recognition for a Job Well Done

Recognition is a powerful tool for boosting employee engagement. Simple acts of acknowledgment, whether public praise, awards, or personalized notes, can significantly impact morale. Recognizing employees' efforts and achievements reinforces their value to the team and motivates them to maintain high performance levels. In fact, 50% of employees surveyed say they’re more engaged at work when they receive recognition from managers. 

Foster Connections Through Networking

Encouraging networking within the organization helps employees build relationships with colleagues who share similar backgrounds, circumstances, and goals. Leveraging HR technology to create a centralized location for career planning, open job postings, and events enhances transparency and communication, effectively keeping these opportunities within reach and top of mind. It extends beyond professional connections, too — 57% of employees polled said having a best friend in the workplace makes work more enjoyable.

Use the Right Technology to Facilitate Employee Engagement

Selecting the right technology is essential for facilitating effective employee engagement. A holistic solution such as a talent marketplace that integrates various aspects of employee engagement — such as development opportunities, feedback, and recognition — can significantly impact personalization and scale the effectiveness of your engagement efforts. Evaluate your current technology stack to ensure it supports a unified and engaging employee experience.

Monitoring the effectiveness of your employee engagement strategy is essential for continuous improvement. Incorporating employee feedback into your evaluations can help you understand the impact of your initiatives and make informed adjustments as needed.

Using Surveys to Measure Employee Engagement

Surveys are invaluable tools for tracking employee engagement, offering insights into the workforce's mood, satisfaction, and commitment. Depending on the organization's specific goals, various types of surveys can be designed to gather targeted information.

  • Employee satisfaction and engagement surveys assess how content employees are with their job and work environment, how committed they are to their work and the organization. The results can be used to understand their level of engagement and identify areas for improvement.

  • Employee lifecycle surveys track employees' experiences and sentiments throughout their tenure at the company — from onboarding to exit — highlighting moments that matter in their journeys.

  • General feedback surveys provide a broad platform for employees to share their thoughts on various aspects of their work life, offering general insights that might not be captured in more focused surveys.

Each type of survey can provide helpful employee engagement data, but creating an effective survey hinges on asking the right questions that resonate with the survey's goals.

Examples of Employee Engagement Survey Questions

The effectiveness of an employee engagement survey largely depends on the relevance and precision of the questions it contains. Customizing questions to fit the type of survey you’re conducting ensures that the feedback collected is both meaningful and actionable. 

Whether focusing on overall engagement, satisfaction, or specific aspects of the employee experience, the questions should align with the survey’s objectives so you can gather data that informs improvements. Here’s a list of common questions that organizations often include in their employee engagement surveys to understand and enhance their workforce's engagement levels:

  1. I feel my job makes good use of my skills and talents. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  2. I would recommend this company as a great place to work. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  3. I feel my manager(s) value my contributions to the company. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  4. I have the professional development opportunities I need to succeed at this company. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  5. I feel that my work aligns with the company’s mission, values, and goals. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  6. I have the resources I need to do my job efficiently. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  7. I feel that I can trust our leadership teams to make good decisions for the company and employees. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  8. My manager(s) give me the authority to manage my work, time, and resources. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  9. I receive recognition from my manager(s) for my accomplishments at work. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  10. My manager(s) encourage open communication. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  11. I trust the company’s vision and believe in its future success. (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

  12. I feel respected by my manager(s). (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)

Implementing these strategies through an employee experience solution ensures a comprehensive engagement approach that prioritizes employees' needs and streamlines operations.

Get the Insight You Need to Boost Employee Engagement with Phenom

Employee engagement is critical to improving employee retention, and there’s a lot to consider when developing an effective strategy. It’s important to understand the factors that contribute to employee engagement, the steps you can take to improve it, and the tools you can use to develop the right approach. But even then, it can be challenging to know where to start — especially without a reliable way to collect, monitor, and leverage meaningful data.

Phenom’s Intelligent Talent Experience platform alleviates this challenge by leveraging AI-powered solutions to optimize HR workflows and streamline the employee experience. Phenom’s Talent Marketplace software enhances how organizations engage and retain top talent by providing personalized development programs, pairing employees with internal projects and employment opportunities that align with their goals, and offering opportunities to connect, learn, and grow with peers and mentors. 

With Phenom, HR and talent management teams can gather real-time data about their employee experience, use it to create an employee engagement strategy, and establish a solid foundation for organizational and employee success.

Discover how Phenom can transform your approach to employee engagement by downloading our Talent Marketplace buyer’s guide or by booking a personalized demo with our team.

John Deal

John is a product manager whose goal is to package Phenom's employee-centric culture into a solution that can be used by other organizations. He enjoys horror novels and running—mostly from age.

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