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My new favorite line is “Common sense isn’t always common practice.” Employee engagement is a clear example. As much as we talk about it, there are companies that don’t have a defined strategy. It’s not because they don’t want engaged employees. Often it’s because they don’t realize how engagement would improve if they had a dedicated conversation and developed a strategy.
We wouldn’t think of not having a marketing strategy or a sales strategy. Organizations have those strategies because they know it helps them deliver results to the bottom-line. Well, employee engagement brings results to the bottom-line in several ways:
Engaged employees are less likely to leave the organization. We already know that engaged employees are happier and more satisfied with their work. This leads to increased productivity. These qualities point to better retention. According to an article in Forbes, highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their company. Greater retention has a positive impact on the bottom-line, both in terms of consistent customer service and reduced employee replacement expenses.
Engaged employees become evangelists for your organization. Currently engaged employees will refer their friends and colleagues for jobs. (Side note: Former engaged employees will also refer their friends and colleagues for jobs. Sometimes a totally engaged employee will have to resign because their significant other received a promotion in another state or to take care of a family member.) This reduces cost per hire and improves quality of hire.
Both current and former engaged employees will refer customers. It goes without saying that if employees love their work and feel connected to the company, they will want it to be successful. That means when opportunities present themselves to promote the company, they’ll do it!
Engaged employees directly impact the bottom-line. New York Times best-selling author Kevin Kruse, in an article for Forbes, points out that highly profitable companies have 50 percent more engaged employees and teams with high levels of engagement beat average revenue growth by 1 percent. Engagement isn’t just some feel good activity. It has a direct connection to organizational growth and profitability.
The actual mechanics of developing an engagement strategy are similar to other strategies. BUT (yes, I had to throw a “but” in there) remember, when you’re having discussions about your engagement strategy, keep these three things in mind.
- Engagement isn’t a “one size fits all” activity. There might be smaller sub-strategies for different work groups. For example, managers (especially those in the company’s succession plan) might need different forms of training and recognition. Contingent workers (freelancers, contractors and on-call employees) should be included in the engagement strategy. Oh, and last but certainly not least, think about what it takes to keep human resources engaged.
- Engagement activities should be varied. No single activity will create engagement. Consider individual activities such as stay interviews and mentoring. There are benefits to conducting larger scale initiatives like employee surveys and volunteer activities. Well-being and professional development programs provide ongoing engagement.
- Engagement activities need to be measured for effectiveness. The company’s sales and marketing activities are measured and evaluated. Engagement activities should be as well. Examples of engagement measurements include the Gallup Q12 and people analytics data (e.g., discretionary effort, people networks, meetings, etc.)
If you want to learn more about creating an effective engagement strategy, join me and the HireRight team for a webinar “Keeping the Best: 5 Strategies for Engaging and Retaining Your Talent” on Wednesday, September 16, 2015. Registration details can be found here.
Organizations that dedicate their resources to developing an engagement strategy will see a more productive workforce and an improved bottom-line. What’s good for talent is good for the business.0