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Employee Engagement

Once upon a time, there were two employees at DBW and Co. Ollie joined the team as a Sales Development Representative while Follie joined as a Customer Support Specialist. They both completed the company’s onboarding program, but only Ollie received ongoing training and mentorship with his fellow SDRs. His team also met on a weekly basis, celebrated successes, and regularly practiced sales pitches. Follie worked in an isolated cubicle, rarely had 1:1 time with his manager, and had little practice interacting with customers before they put him on the floor by himself.

Three months passed, and Ollie was thriving. He regularly hit his sales quota, helped create new team training, and actively participated in team meetings. On the contrary, Follie regularly arrived late to work, failed to meet major milestones, and rarely participated in meetings. Frustrated and bored, Follie moved on to another opportunity while Ollie flourished and grew at DBW and Co. for years to come.

What is employee engagement?

While the above tale of employee engagement is fictional, it’s a situation that happens too often at companies all around the globe. The good news? Employee engagement isn’t rocket science. Before you start overhauling your employee engagement strategies and build a team full of Ollies, it’s important to understand what employee engagement really is.

According to Gallup, employee engagement is when employees are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their workplace. We also found a few more employee engagement definitions that we believe are worth sharing:

“Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.”—Kevin Kruse, Forbes

“Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work.”—Quantum Workplace

“Employee engagement is an emotional state where we feel passionate, energetic, and committed toward our work.”—DecisionWise

The concept of employee engagement is nothing new. But over time, it’s also been mistaken for other employee qualities. However, employee engagement is not the same thing as:

  • Employee happiness 
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Employee commitment
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A history lesson in employee engagement

Psychologist, William Kahn, is known as the founding father of employee engagement with his employee engagement theory. In his 1990 study, Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work, Kahn conducted two workplace studies. After spending time at a summer camp and an architecture firm, he defined engagement as an employee’s ability to harness their “full self” at work. He also identified three psychological conditions that enable it:

1. Meaningfulness: Does an employee find their work meaningful enough to warrant engaging their full self?

2. Safety: Does an employee feel safe bringing their full self to work without the risk of negative consequences?

3. Availability: Does the employee feel mentally and physically able to harness their full self at that particular moment?

Khan found a common thread in these employee engagement examples. No matter what, a diligent employee, who can harness their full self, displays loyalty and ownership. This makes them more likely to go the extra mile because they believe they can help their organization.

Levels of Employee Engagement

When it comes to measuring employee engagement, there are different levels of engagement. It’s likely that any team has a combination of every type of engagement. 

Engaged employees work with passion and feel connected to their company. They drive innovation and strive to move the organization forward. These are the “A” players who can transform work into an environment of productivity, camaraderie, and fun. They’re also the backbone of any company and make a huge difference in motivating other team members.

Disengaged employees are essentially “checked out.” They show up for work and put the time in, but lack energy or passion. Unfortunately, they do adequate work but don’t function anywhere near their full potential.

Actively disengaged employees are very unhappy at work and they make it known. Each day, these workers undermine the work of engaged employees and even talk negatively about the organization and its leaders. They do the bare minimum to prevent them from getting called out or fired.

Why is Employee Engagement Important?

Employee engagement isn’t the answer to all of your company’s problems, but it certainly impacts it. Here’s a quick look at some of the benefits of employee engagement that come from improving your employee culture:

More motivated workers

Employees who feel valued by their employer are more likely to do their best for the company. A survey from the American Psychological Association found that 93% of employees who feel valued at work are more willing to do what they can to help their team and organization.

Lower absenteeism

Gallup also found that engaged employees make it a point to show up for work. Remember Ollie and Follie? Follie was disengaged and therefore more likely to call in sick or take frequent PTO. Teams with engaged employees see a 41% reduction in absenteeism.

Workers live better lives

At Lessonly, we believe that when people do better work, they live better lives. According to a study by Kansas State University, engaged employees aren’t just great at work. They’re great to their families and friends, too.

Increased productivity

Engaged employees are more motivated to do a great job. So, it makes sense that employee engagement also drives productivity and performance. In fact, teams in the top percentage of engagement average 17% higher productivity.

Examples of Successful Employee Engagement Programs

If the benefits of employee engagement don’t inspire you to determine how to improve employee engagement, we have some real-world examples that may do the trick.

Employee Engagement Practices at Google

Fortune’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list has featured Google since 2007. If you take a look at Google’s Glassdoor reviews, employees praise things like work-life balance and growth opportunities. This is no accident as founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin deliberately focused on making Google a great place to work. From giving employees freedom and control of their time to offering fun activities for employees at work, Google is a great model for employee engagement inspiration.

Enagement and Safety at Molson Coors Brewing Company

Molson Coors found that engaged employees were five times less likely than disengaged employees to have a safety incident. Additionally, the average cost of an incident for an engaged employee was only $63 as opposed to $392 for disengaged employees. Their strategic focus on employee engagement saved them more than $1 million in just one year.

Simple Ideas Drive Powerful Results at Drift

A few years ago, Drift started a new initiative called Random Lunch with DC. DC stands for Drift’s CEO, David Cancel and became a way for him to stay connected to what was going on and how people were feeling. He randomly selects employees from different teams and they grab a bite to eat together. The goal is to help everyone get to know each other and prevent silos from building within their growing team.

If you’re ready to take employee engagement to the next level, take a look at our employee engagement activities!

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