Employee engagement definition has been addressed by the business leaders as well as scholars for years. Yet, it remains challenging to find a unified definition for this unique concept.
Employee engagement is a key to employee experience, and it is imperative for organizations to compete and successfully retain their best talent. Furthermore, highly engaged employees lead to higher productivity and greater overall business outcomes.
Kevin Kruse wrote a great article in 2012 on defining employee engagement. He very accurately stated that employee engagement is more than employee happiness or employee satisfaction. Employee happiness is undoubtedly important, but it does not necessarily mean they work hard or with the best interest of your company in mind. Similarly, a satisfied employee can have high level of enthusiasm towards their job but it does not necessarily mean they will stay loyal to your business if a better opportunity comes their way.
The definition of employee engagement offered by Kruse states:
“Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.”
Business dictionary provides a similar one:
“Emotional connection an employee feels toward his or her employment organization, which tends to influence his or her behaviours and level of effort in work related activities.”
Additionally, there is a myriad of other engagement definitions available for you. Some of them as indefinite as
“The art of getting people to believe what you want them to believe.” - Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat
It comes as no surprise. There is certainly an element of art to creating employee engagement in a business. Despite the ongoing discussion about employee engagement and the high number of definitions available, it remains challenging for employers to understand the key to employee engagement, how to establish high levels of employee engagement and more importantly maintain it long-term. We have created a detailed guide on employee engagement including its importance, enablers and drivers, to help you develop a culture of engagement in your business.
However, in this blog we want to highlight that employee engagement is a result of creating an inclusive culture. Creating an inclusive culture is not simply organizing a Christmas dinner party or having a monthly challenge in your company’s internal newsletter. So what can (and should) you as an employer do?
Firstly, you have to realize that despite the fact there are common best practices and tips to engage your workforce the strategy needs to be aligned with the company culture in your organization. Yes, just like in any relationship, creating trust and engagement is specific to the parties involved.
Therefore, to define and assess employee engagement in your company consider these questions:
With these questions in mind, you can define engagement as not only the emotional commitment of your employees to the organization and their goals but also their will to dedicate time and effort to activities that will help the company grow. Engaged employees will not only work hard to progress in their individual career but also keep the best interest of your organization in mind when making decisions. Engaged employees care not only for themselves but also for their teammates and the business itself. They will be willing to go an extra mile to reach the organizational targets. Furthermore, they will be rewarded with pride when the business does well and hopefully a well-deserved recognition from you as an employer.
Nevertheless it might be tempting for you to simply answer these questions “yes” based on your assumptions, it is worth to conduct an engagement survey to evaluate the engagement levels of your staff. Whether you decide for a complex survey that addresses engagement as a whole or a series of pulse surveys, remember to monitor it over time and use the insights to develop strategies to address the issues that arise.
So there you have it, the most common definition of employee engagement and questions to help you define and evaluate it in your business.
However, if you want to take the definition of employee engagement a mile further, ask yourself:
To what levels are the jobs of your employees integrated to their life?
Think about it, why would you want to leave your job if your team-members are also your mates, the workplace is in the same location as your ‘life’, your opinions are valued and you have a level of autonomy to make your decisions. You respect and value your manager who openly talks to you about organizational issues and provides you with coaching and also understands that your daughter's ballet showcase might be more important to you then getting to work on time and trusts that despite missing couple of hours you will finish your tasks and ensure to maintain ypour high levels of productivity.
Time for you to shine; how would you define employee engagement and disenagement in your organization?
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