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Employee Engagement: The key to turning around the “Great Resignation”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are reassessing their career goals. From factory floors to retail aisles to cubicle farms, employees were asking themselves: “Am I happy doing this? Or should I do something else?”

The result is a complex labor market--one where hiring is a challenge, and retention rates are low. That’s why more businesses and organizations are focusing on creating an appealing and responsive workplace culture for employees. For modern businesses, moving the needle on employee engagement could be the secret to prosperity and profitability.

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is the measurement of workers’ interest and investment in their jobs--emotionally, mentally, and physically. In that way, employee engagement is distinct from something like employee happiness. (A happy employee can be unengaged, though engaged employees are less commonly unhappy.) Broadly speaking, employee engagement can significantly shape your workplace culture.

Those employers who strive to improve employee engagement will usually employ surveys, questionnaires, or other data to measure just how dialed in their workforce might be. Data analytics can then help Human Resources managers and company leaders find opportunities to improve the employee experience.

Employee engagement can be expressed in a number of ways, including how vital or appreciated an employee feels in a role or how loyal your workforce feels to your organization.

High Employee Engagement Can Lead to Broad Benefits

Improving employee engagement can lead to significant benefits--both for your organization and for your workforce. Some of those benefits include the following:

  1. Less stress: Employees that are more engaged are generally less stressed: they know what’s going on, they’re prepared, and they feel like they have adequate time to accomplish their goals. That’s good, because the American Psychological Association estimates that 550 million work days are lost every year due to stress (totalling $550 billion). Less stress for your workforce means more revenue at the end of the day.
  2. Lower absenteeism and higher retention: Engaged employees care--by definition. But they’re also happier and healthier. This will lead to lower rates of absenteeism and better retention. That’s true whether you operate retail chains or offer professional services. In an era of tight labor fields and competitive job markets, improving retention can help keep your organization staffed and operational.
  3. Improved customer service: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that engaged employees care more about providing fantastic service to customers. High employee engagement usually means that your workforce feels supported. And, in return, employees are more likely to support customers. As you develop a reputation for excellent customer service, your organization will have a better chance at flourishing.
  4. Improved quality: Whether your business relies on an assembly line or virtual assets, quality is important. The latest research indicates that an engaged workforce can lead to a 40% improvement in the quality of work performed. That means fewer customer issues and a boost to your reputation.
  5. Improved productivity: Not all employees in all fields will measure productivity the same way. Maybe the best employee experience for your organization is a four-day work week. Or maybe shorter shifts but fewer days off is your best balance. Data will be able to provide you with the best way to maximize employee engagement--because when your workplace culture is moving on all cylinders, the productivity of employees will also improve.
  6. Greater profitability: The more productive your employees are, the more profitable your business will become. Employees who have a good experience will stick around longer, meaning you’ll have to spend less money hiring and training new employees. And all of that institutional knowledge will only lead to greater profits in the long run. Organizations with highly engaged workforces are, on average, 21% more profitable than their counterparts. For most organizations, that makes an investment in employee engagement incredibly worthwhile.

Remote Work and Employee Engagement

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way that people work. More employees are working from home. But that raises an interesting conundrum for organizations: how can you improve employee engagement when your employees aren’t physically in the office?

The solution may be to think of remote work, and all that it entails, as part of the overall employee experience. Improving engagement could mean making your online portal easier to navigate or limiting alerts on certain types of emails. Whatever the employee experience looks like, a data-driven approach to improving engagement can reveal hidden motivators even when an employee is working from home.

Take a Data-Driven Approach to Employee Engagement

Using a data-driven approach can help your organization invest in the right ways to meet the challenges of fostering a positive workplace culture.

Continual surveys can help ensure that your investments in strengthening employee experience and engagement are paying off. As the COVID pandemic continues to wind down, retaining employees is going to remain a challenge. Using data to improve employee engagement can help make sure your organization is up to that challenge--and thrives in the long run.

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