Employee Engagement: Beyond a Buzzword

In recent years, the phrase “employee engagement” has been frequently thrown around when referring to corporate culture; yet, despite its prevalence, the concept is not taken as seriously as it should be. Every company wants its employees to be engaged in theory, but it’s often not a priority that’s implemented. However, the price an organization pays for disengaged employees is too high to ignore.

Recent studies show that employee turnover costs U.S. businesses $11 billion a year, and engagement (or lack thereof) is a crucial component in how likely an employee is to stay with an organization. In addition, studies have shown that companies with the most engaged employees have higher productivity, higher shareholder return and higher net profit margins. So, how do you go beyond talking about employee engagement to practicing it?

Here are some simple and effective ways to improve employee engagement:

1.       Be aware of the specific needs of your organization.
Employee engagement is not one-size-fits-all. It starts by understanding who makes up your organization. If your company has a remote workforce, you may need to get creative and put extra effort forth to ensure employees feel connected to one another. If you have a workforce with a high percentage of millennials, traditional HR procedures like yearly performance reviews may not be as effective as more frequent, less formal assessments due to this generation’s need for constant feedback.

2.       Be clear about your organization’s direction.
Top-down transparency is a critical component in fostering an engaged employee culture. Weekly or monthly updates from management about the company’s progress keeps everyone in the loop. Communicating organizational goals makes employees feel like they’re playing a part in reaching those goals and it stresses their long-term value to the organization. And when management creates a “we’re all in this together” mentality, employees feel like their work is significant, which is a major factor in employee engagement.

3.       Create paths for advancement.
Don’t let your organization fall prey to high turnover due to a lack of potential for career progression. Make sure employees understand your corporate structure and be open about criteria for promotion. Employees are more engaged if they have a goal to work toward and understand what they need to do to attain it. In addition, internal mentorship programs can ensure employees have the tools needed to keep their career moving forward without changing companies.

4.       Create a leadership team.
You don’t need a big budget for employee engagement activities. This is the perfect opportunity to tap into your company’s talent. Creating an employee engagement team or taskforce made up of people who are passionate about your organization will give engagement the focus it deserves. This also creates opportunities for employees to take on a resume-boosting leadership role, something many people (millennials, in particular!) crave. Putting together a team consisting of employees instead of management adds insight into what employees want and yields more effective (and, perhaps, out-of-the-box) ideas.

Don’t let employee engagement be a buzzword used by human resources; make it a guiding principle for your organization by taking action.

Written By: Jane Graybeal
After starting out her career in sales and marketing, Jane discovered a passion for recruiting and currently serves as a Recruitment Consultant for WilsonHCG. In addition to being a Brand Ambassador for the company, she is excited about employee engagement and was selected to be a member of WilsonHCG’s internal employee engagement committee. Jane is also interested in issues regarding generational recruitment. As a true millennial, she is slightly obsessed with all things social media, including Facebook, Instagram and writing her own blog. Jane has a degree in communication studies from the University of Michigan and resides in Lake Tahoe with her husband and goofy dog, Lola. Follow Jane on Twitter and LinkedIn!

One thought on “Employee Engagement: Beyond a Buzzword

  1. Hi Jane,

    I am a Supervisor in the mining industry in Australia and the company I work for, under a recently new management hierarchy, have invested in training in excess of 80 Supervisors in a Leadership Development program over seven months.

    At the end of the program, each group have been assigned an identical project to discuss and present to the management team.

    The project is “To develop a process (a way of working) that will allow the improved integration of the companies vision and values, in a way that all employees can become more effective and efficient in the workplace.

    My mind is focused on the companies lack of investing in leadership development full stop and by searching the web for various ideas I stumbled across a comment you made on another site regarding disengaged workers.

    I agree with your thoughts on rewarding high achievers based on performance and was wondering if you had any further information I could utilise to assist in creating a presentation to management that incorporates reward for achievement which in turn decreases high turnover of staff as well as increasing the productivity and loyalty of personnel within the company.

    Understand you are obviously a busy woman and if I don’t hear back from you then all the best regardless.


    Chris Packham

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