What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is an employee’s emotional commitment and professional investment in their job as well as the organization’s business outcomes. While related to employee satisfaction, employee engagement primarily concerns itself with an employee’s productivity and focus in their work environment rather than only their happiness at work. Employee engagement underpins the fundamental success of the entire company, because an engaged workforce is more likely to do their best work.

Key topics about employee engagement:

Why is employee engagement important, and what are its benefits?

Highly engaged employees are more likely to go above and beyond the basic requirements of their jobs. An engaged workforce is more likely to get projects done ahead of schedule, or will find new ways to make the organization more agile and efficient in order to improve business outcomes. Workers with high employee engagement are less likely to get distracted at work and more likely to innovate new ways of getting things done. Because they see the bigger picture and believe in their company’s mission, engaged employees are more willing to help their colleagues and company thrive in a great work environment.

Improving employee engagement benefits an organization in several ways. According to Gallup, high employee engagement reduces turnover by as much as 59%, improves decision-making and customer satisfaction, and increases profits by about 21%. These benefits are why a recent Harvard Business Review survey found that a majority of business owners felt higher levels of employee engagement were important to their success.

How does employee engagement relate to employee experience?

Employee engagement is closely correlated to employee experience, which is the wide range of perceptions and observations workers develop as they interact with an organization. Employee experience encompasses every interaction with their company, including relationships with coworkers and managers, experiences with technology and workspaces, and major milestones like yearly reviews.

Because the overall employee experience has a direct impact on how committed each employee is to the company’s mission and goals, a strong employee experience will tend to drive higher employee engagement. This in mind, employers who want to improve employee engagement should pay close attention to the digital and cultural environments that make up day-to-day employee experiences. By designing strategies to optimize the employee experience with better management and technology, a company will tend to see its employees be more engaged with their work.

What are ways to measure employee engagement and improve it?

To help employees be more engaged, human resources must engage with them to reinforce their value to the organization and give them a personal stake in its success. Some questions to measure employee engagement include: Do employees feel that their work is seen and important? Do employees know that they have opportunities to grow, and how to best pursue these goals? Do staff have the tools and technology to do their best work?

Best practices for to produce higher levels of employee engagement include:

  • Communicate regularly. Prioritize communication between executives and managers, and between managers and their team members. Check in to make sure everyone has what they need to do their jobs well, offer rewards and recognition when it’s due, and facilitate supportive peer feedback in the work environment.
  • Model ideal employee behavior. Employees need to feel that accountability, transparency, and engagement start at the top of the organization. This helps workers see that their organization’s emotional commitment and values mirror their own—and they’ll feel more empowered to take the initiative in their own roles.
  • Measure employee engagement. Create a thorough employee engagement survey (50-80 questions at least, with open-ended spaces for more complete answers) and let employees know why their participation is important. Whatever they say, take their feedback in stride and communicate that it is understood. Using these findings as a tool can guide decision-making in the future and help employees feel emotional commitment to their work.

What technologies can improve employee engagement?

Employees are more likely to be engaged when they believe their IT department is focused on helping them be productive. Technology is only one of the drivers of employee engagement, but deploying the right tools can help employees focus and do their best work. This makes it important to gain employee buy-in when evaluating new technology, because the more employees feel that their organization is listening to their needs and providing the right tools, the more likely they are to improve their engagement at work.

Ideally, technology to improve employee engagement should be simple, easy to use, and give employees everything they need in one digital workspace. By integrating all apps and tools in one workspace, this technology helps prevent distraction or wasting time searching for important information in disparate places. It is also helpful to deploy technology that gives employees the ability to work from anywhere, as this gives employees more choice over how they get their work done—helping them become a more engaged workforce.

To learn more about technology designed to drive employee engagement, see this glossary page on digital workspaces.