We hear that employee engagement is important, but how do you define engagement? Many businesses and other organizations long for fully engaged employees, but why does it matter? Let’s look at both what engagement is and why businesses want as much defined engagement as possible.

Define Employee Engagement

When we are trying to define employee engagement, we generally refer to it as how excited and enthusiastic employees are about the company they are part of. It’s their connection with the company and motivation to not only work but also go above and beyond their typical job tasks. An engaged employee tends to be a more committed employee.

Employee engagement is dependent on the organization. Many employees feel more engaged when leadership, management, and other team members value their input. Someone who feels that they are heard by members of their team is more likely to remain engaged.

Companies value higher levels of employee engagement. Higher defined engagement levels typically indicate improved performance, innovation, and retention. One way to find out how to improve employee engagement is to conduct a survey of current employees. Use the data from the survey to change practices so the rate of engagement improves over time.

How Do You Define Engagement and Why Does It Matter

Why Does Defined Engagement Matter for Those At Work?

People who are engaged at work have a better quality of life. They also contribute greater value to the work environment. Someone who is engaged at work tends to feel more energized by what they do, and they seem to have a more positive mental health status. An engaged employee tends to enjoy their job more and stay more committed to the company.

Why Does Engagement Matter to the Organization?

When organizations understand what drives their employees to be engaged, the organization can more effectively apply strategies to keep employees interested, engaged, and committed to the company. Engaged employees give valuable feedback. The feedback can help organizations focus on impactful areas.

Measuring Defined Engagement

Do you remember the employee surveys we’ve all been asked to complete? Those surveys are a simple yet accurate way to measure employee engagement. Why do they work? Employee engagement is an outcome, so the surveys can be used to measure which factors help your employees be the most engaged. They can also measure the factors that hurt fine engagement the most in your company.

Five Things to Know Before Measuring Engagement

  1. You need to ask more than one question to understand engagement
  2. Choose questions to strategically get an accurate view of employee engagement
  3. An analysis of what drives employee engagement allows you to have better insight into what needs to be changed.
  4. If you know the common drivers of employee engagement, you can better understand overall engagement trends.
  5. For useful context, look at survey benchmark data.

You Need to Ask More than One Question to Understand Engagement.

A single question won’t do justice to the complexity of the employee engagement data. Instead, you should ask several questions regarding the same topic. Being specific is more effective than simply asking how satisfied your employee is.

The Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) was, at one time, the metric that many employers chose for measuring employee engagement. The eNPS simply asked if the employee would recommend their workplace as somewhere that was a great place to work. The desire to recommend the company is valuable data, but it isn’t enough on its own to give a comprehensive picture of employee engagement. For this reason, you should keep and employ a range of employee engagement metrics.

Choose Questions to Strategically Get An Accurate View of Employee Engagement.

Part of the engagement definition includes connection, commitment, and motivation. Your engagement survey should ask questions providing data on these things. Connection, commitment, and motivation are the outcomes of employee engagement, and an effective engagement survey will look at these through the lens of recommendation, pride, current and projected commitment, and the company’s ability to motivate workers to go above and beyond expectations.

An Analysis of What Drives Employee Engagement Allows You to Have Better Insight Into What Needs to be Changed

Surveys allow companies to use the driver analysis technique to determine which factors relate to employee engagement the most. Basically, the question on the survey that gets the most positive feedback is the top driver of employee engagement. By knowing which question got the most positive response, you can work to improve your response to that question across the board. Improving those responses means you also have a chance of improving engagement.

If You Know the Common Drivers of Employee Engagement, You Can Better Understand Overall Engagement Trends.

Each company is unique, with a unique mix of individuals. Drivers of engagement vary from place to place and even within the same company over a period of time. Some trends do tend to remain, however.

In 2021, data indicated that the following factors were the top drivers of employee engagement:

  • Learning & Development
  • Leadership
  • Company Confidence

For Useful Context, Look At Survey Benchmark Data

When you measure engagement, look at comparisons of internal data from multiple years. You should also look at external benchmarks. Benchmarks allow you to see that some scores that you might think are negative are actually relatively normal, depending on the population makeup.

Don’t strive to meet benchmarks, though. Many people think of benchmarks as goals, but it’s more important to focus on the things that your team finds important. Use a benchmark to put your survey into context. Choose benchmarks that are diverse based on the demographics of your current talent pool.

Defining How One-on-One Meetings Drive Employee Engagement

Don’t use an employee engagement survey as your only tool. You should use the survey as a jumping-off point for communication. Once you’ve communicated the results, you can take action based on your findings.

Managers give you an easy tool for improving employee engagement. Managers can have the greatest impact on an employee’s daily engagement. To improve your company’s overall employee engagement, teach your managers the appropriate skills to drive engagement.

One of the best tools your managers have at their disposal is the one-on-one meeting. These regular check-ins with employees allow them to provide feedback regarding what they feel is going well and what isn’t. Your managers can take the opportunity to communicate how the employee can make progress. These meetings help build connections between the management team and the employee so the employee feels empowered to meet and exceed any expectations.

Teach your managers how to run a well-executed meeting. Discussion of the following topics typically helps to drive engagement.

  • Professional development: When you discuss professional development with employees, it gives them the sense that you care about their goals. You let them know you are committed to helping them advance in their careers. Asking them about their professional goals helps an employee feel like a valued asset to the team.
  • Personhood: Showing an appropriate and genuine interest in a person’s life helps your management team to build trust in the team. It shows empathy and the desire to build a personal connection. Simple “how’s the family” style questions that allow the employee to speak about personal interests help develop stronger bonds and lead to greater employee engagement.
  • Performance:  Managers should check in with employees at least biweekly, so employees feel empowered to ask for assistance where needed. It allows managers to see where employees are struggling. It also allows managers to communicate performance-tracking information and goals to each employee individually.

These meetings can be used to allow employees to communicate how well they think the management team or other team members are contributing to the team. As one-on-one meetings become a regular part of the routine, it will likely become easier for employees to open up to management regarding the things they feel work well and those they think could improve.

  • Roadblocks: A one-on-one meeting setting lets managers talk about issues when they are most relevant—right after they arise. Using this meeting strategy also helps to keep progress flowing and allows employees to realize that they aren’t the only people who occasionally struggle with the job.

When handled appropriately, managers can use one-on-one meetings as an excellent tool for building connections with the rest of the team. Employees who feel heard and valued are more likely to be more engaged with the company and, therefore, become committed to meeting or exceeding the goals that the organization has set down.

The Takeaway: How to Define Employee Engagement

Management teams need to understand that employee engagement isn’t a cause; it’s an outcome. The organization has the power to affect the level of employee engagement within the company. Employees particularly value feeling like they are being heard. Using an employee engagement survey is one of the easiest methods to use to measure levels of employee engagement and identify the areas where everyone could improve.