Employee engagement and its link to wellbeing

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Health Assured team

06 February 2020

Your employees are the most important asset to your business.

When they’re motivated, involved and committed to the organisation, they’ll go the extra mile to contribute to its overall objectives.

The advantages of a fully engaged employee extend from increases in productivity and loyalty to the organisation, all the way to improved communication, morale and overall business output. The impact of disengaged employees, on the other hand, ranges from poor customer experiences to increased turnover rates and declines in productivity.

Employee engagement isn’t to be mistaken for employee satisfaction. While the measurement of their satisfaction highlights how happy they are at their job, employee engagement focuses their passion for the job and the company as a whole.


What is employee engagement?

Different organisations use different employee engagement definitions.

The basic summary of it though is that it’s your approach to improving your employee’s commitment to your organisation by creating a cultural shift in the way the company behaves.

David Macleod OBE co-founder of the employment engagement task force Engage for success defines employee engagement as an approach, “designed to ensure the commitment of employees to an organisation’s goals, objective and values”. He also added that it’s about creating the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential.

When your staff are actively engaged with their tasks and environment, they’re more motivated. They’re more productive. And they’re likely to approach and solve problems in completely unexpected ways.

As well as this, when people are engaged with their tasks, they’re far more likely to stick with them. Your best people shouldn’t find their work boring. If they do, they’ll leave.


Why is employee engagement important?

Although employee satisfaction measures the contentedness of your staff, it doesn’t measure other essential elements including their motivation and commitment to your organisation. Employees can be perfectly content while only giving 30% of their ability.

Employee engagement is important as when staff are engaged, they’re able to work better, learn more and faster and be more creative. They also make the best ambassadors for your organisation.

There’s also a link between employee engagement and mental health. For an employee to feel fully engaged and invested in their work, they’ll need to feel that you care about them.

According to mentalhealth.org, one in six people will experience a mental health challenge at some point in their working lives. They go on to point out that women in full-time employment are twice as likely to experience this compared to their male counterpart.

With mental health issues likely to affect most of your staff, it’s essential to work together with them to tackle issues related to mental health. Focusing on these issues not only contributes to increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism, but it can also have various financial implications for an organisation.


Benefits of employee engagement

It’s about pride and loyalty, that desire to go the extra mile to achieve the best work possible. When you have a workplace that encourages enthusiasm and takes steps to engage their staff, benefits can include:

  • Higher commitment and satisfaction levels
  • Increased retention rates
  • Greater productivity, synergy and motivation
  • Increased profitability
  • Reduced instances of absenteeism
  • Improved loyalty
  • Increased creativity and innovation
  • Better customer service
  • Reduced recruitment costs


How to improve employee engagement

Before delving into how to engage employees, it’s a good idea to explore the theory of employee engagement.

In a 1990 study titled ‘Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work’ by William Kahn (also referred to as the father of employee engagement), he found that there were three psychological conditions that enable engagement. They are:

  1. Meaningfulness: Is their work meaningful?
  2. Safety: Can they apply their full self to work without negative repercussions?
  3. Availability: Do they currently feel mentally and physically able to apply their full self to their work?

To apply this theory to the workplace, employers much approach their staff as partners instead of subordinates.

They should maintain continuous dialogues and involve them in developing or altering their roles, tasks and work practices.

All of which is only possible when employees feel safe enough to speak openly on issues that concern them.

There are lots of ways you can make improvements. It’s not just a case of throwing employee engagement strategies at the wall and hoping something sticks, though.

First, take a good, honest look at your workplace. Do you provide the following?

  • Truly fair treatment of all employees
  • Motivational performance management
  • Clear, thoughtful communication from the very top
  • Targets, goals and ambitions that are realistic and achievable for all
  • Rewards and acknowledgement of those achievements
  • Good, structured progression
  • Friendly and active people management
  • Effective employee feedback

Below we’ll explore some easy to implement employee engagement ideas to help improve engagement in your workplace. These are all essential to making people feel valued—and value is the cornerstone of engagement.

  • Create an engaging onboarding experience
  • Encourage individuality
  • Promote transparency
  • Implement rewards and recognition
  • Encourage a healthy work-life balance
  • Provide flexible working options
  • Set realistic and clear expectations
  • Introduce employee assistance programmes
  • Offer/request regular feedback
  • Build relationships based on trust
  • Address internal conflicts and performance issues as soon as you notice them
  • Get to know your teams
  • Encourage effective interdepartmental communication
  • Offer mentorship and development opportunities
  • Ensure staff understand their job description and how it contributes to business objectives
  • Consult with employees (or their representatives) on any changes or measures that may affect them
  • Conduct exit interviews
  • Encourage volunteering

A great way to gain feedback and understand where your weaknesses lie is an employee engagement survey. Like all methods of employee engagement, this isn’t a one-shot solution—it’s more like a forum, a way for people to express their concerns (and the things they enjoy) about work.

Survey monkey features some great guides and advice on how to engage employees using surveys. They also include some example questions backed up by research. This is an invaluable tool for employee engagement—after all, the best way to find out how to make someone’s life easier is to ask them.

These surveys should allow for anonymised answers. This encourages honesty. Don’t take it personally if someone brings up a genuine problem about which they feel strongly—treat it as something you can fix. Take their concerns on board and work with them.

Once you’ve run the survey for a while—once a month for a quarter or more—you’ll have plenty of data and suggestions. This is the perfect way to learn how to engage your employees.

No two workplaces—or people—are the same.

You might think that taking the whole office to lunch, or allowing them to go home early on Fridays, will increase engagement. However, this isn’t the case.

Although you can’t go wrong with a free meal or early finish, they both contribute to your employee’s satisfaction while at work and not their engagement.

Increasing engagement is more about making sure that the work environment, leadership, and the work itself are clear, rewarding and motivating.

You can also consider other employee engagement activities such as:

  • Involving them in the business planning process
  • Provide learning opportunities
  • Create interdepartmental competitions
  • Take advantage of your internal communication channels
  • Activities that boost mental health and physical wellbeing



Tools for employee engagement

As well as implementing the above strategies for improving employee engagement, there’re a variety of tools available to support the process.

For communication and teamwork, consider the following tools

  • Slack
  • Skype
  • Microsoft teams
  • Facebook workplace

For productivity and time tracking, consider the following tools:

  • Trello
  • Accelo
  • Confluence
  • TFS
  • Google drive
  • Lastpass

For managing employee absences and holidays

  • WhosOff
  • BrightHR holiday planner
  • Activ absence management software
  • LeavePlanner


Expert support

Contact the health assured team for more information and assistance with issues relating to employee engagement. Call us now on 0844 892 2493.

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