I’ve written about employee engagement quite a bit over the years. At this point, I think we all know it’s important and companies need to focus on it. But it’s also important to understanding that engagement isn’t necessarily the goal.
What I mean by that is the goal should be what engagement creates. Research shows us that:
- Organizations with a high level of engagement report 22 percent higher productivity.
- Almost 60 percent of engaged employees say their job “brings out their most creative ideas.”
- Organizations in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed the bottom-quartile in profitability by 22 percent.
- Employees who are engaged are 59 percent less likely to look for a job with a different organization.
Organizations aren’t building world-class candidate experiences, designing excellent onboarding programs, offering competitive compensation and benefits, and delivering outstanding career development just to say, “Okay, everyone’s engaged now. We’re done.” They’re creating all of these programs to get the results that come from engagement.
Which means that organizations and employees need to view engagement as a continuous activity. Something that the organization does all the time. Think of it as a process, not an event.
It also means that organizations and employees should be prepared for there to be peaks and valleys in engagement. It’s okay if an employee comes to work in a bit of a funk. They’re smart. They understand that they need to still do their work and deliver excellent service. They also understand that they can’t be in a funk forever. So, companies have to cut them a little slack.
Same goes for organizations. Companies make mistakes. It doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, the company needs to fess up and apologize. They need to make it right for the people who were impacted by the mistake. And they need to work hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And employees and customers need to give them the benefit of the doubt.
The reason I’m writing about this is because during this year’s SilkRoad Connections Conference, Ben Eubanks, industry analyst for Lighthouse Research & Advisory, shared that experiences will be the next evolution of employee engagement. If that’s the case, then we have to realize that experiences aren’t always going to be perfect. And the recovery from the little speedbumps that happen will drive engagement as much if not more than the perfect moments.
So, when we’re thinking about employee engagement, we need to think about having more good days than bad ones. That goes for employees as well as organizations. Employee engagement isn’t just something that companies are responsible for. Employees should want engagement for the same reasons that companies do. Because if an employee is engaged then they’re happy, productive, and creative.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA2