Engagement marketing is a strategy that has become extremely popular, almost obligatory, for modern day organizations intending to reach their target audience, but what about employee engagement? Some companies or agencies are unaware of the many benefits gained from engaging staff members. Others understand the general idea, but do not actively pursue or track engagement among their team. This blog will tackle the meaning of employee engagement, which factors most forcibly drive it, strategies and tools for increasing it, and how to track and replicate progress.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, the concept of “job satisfaction” was established, studied, and developed by a multitude of academics. As time passed, the idea solidified as having a job that fulfilled a person’s basic needs while simultaneously acting as a source of enjoyment or positive emotion. However, executives quickly discovered that monetary gain and positive feelings towards one’s place of work, peppered with ping pong tables and bean bag chairs, was not enough to retain their best employees and keep them highly productive.
Built upon the premise of providing “gratifying” work in exchange for productive and loyal personnel, employee engagement evolved as a distinct theory in the 1990s. Following its inception, studies determining the criteria, drivers, and benefits of an engaged workforce have been undertaken by HR consulting powerhouses such as Gallup, Penna, and Towers Watson. The consensus among researchers overwhelmingly leads to three important conclusions:
- Humans are motivated by far more than money. They hope to find meaning and purpose in their lives and by extension, their career.
- Most people (about 70%) are not currently engaged at their place of work. [i]
- Most establishments do not take advantage of the benefits of increasing employee engagement.
Furthermore, these studies identified key factors in driving workplace engagement. By raising awareness of these factors and nurturing their presence throughout the company culture, organizations can help ensure an individual’s engagement in the job and in the organization. Key factors of engagement include:
- Individuals maintaining an understanding of their specific role as well as how their role fits into the organization’s broader values, needs, and objectives
- Workers possessing the resources to do their job efficiently
- Maintaining a good fit between skills and work responsibilities so that employees perceive they are performing fulfilling and good work
- Individuals and work teams feeling valued and respected, with leadership listening to their ideas and opinions
- Individuals being afforded opportunities and encouraged to develop within their areas of responsibility and receive promotions
- Employees sharing values with the organization and coworkers
- Workers feeling they are kept informed of organizational activities
The following definition of employee engagement according to the Institute for Employment Studies encompasses the concept nicely:
“A positive attitude held by the employee towards the organization and its value. An engaged employee is aware of business context, and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organization. The organization must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between employer and employee.”[ii]
Two Way Communications
The overarching theme among these drivers of employee engagement is applying an effective, ongoing, two-way communications strategy between management and employees. Open dialogue is healthy for the entire organization as well as the individual. New ideas specific to an organization’s culture can be developed from honest and frequent dialog between members of the team.
Please note the word “two-way” in two-way communications. Nurturing employee engagement is a labor that begins and hinges on the efforts of those in managerial positions. The responsibilities of a supervisor dedicated to the cause of increasing employee engagement include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Leading by example (being an advocate for the organization, treating people with respect, demonstrating the values held by the organization, etc.)
- Ensuring employees have the knowledge and resources required to succeed in their jobs
- Encouraging and providing open and honest communications
- Determining the appropriate avenues for employees to frequently give feedback
- Responding to feedback and demonstrating its significance with real change
So how does one initiate and maintain quality two-way communications with members of an organization or business that employs hundreds or even thousands of people? It can be difficult for all workers to have access to those in upper management, and even more challenging to do so on a regular basis.
CATMEDIA created a relevant tool to help supervisors reach an entire or specific portion of a workforce, while simultaneously offering avenues for anonymous feedback, and providing ways to track the progress of those efforts. BAM Mail™ is a patented, customizable tool that allows for the delivery of an interactive pdf document supporting rich media such as video, quizzes, forms, and more. It’s a great solution for rolling out organizational changes, training new hires, or connecting with a large crew on a regular basis.
For example, one of our clients uses BAM Mail™ to send a “monthly message.” This entails the head of the organization personally delivering updates and information to the entire workforce. The message is delivered via email with embedded video, allowing each employee to have “face time” with the highest-level administrative officer. Within the BAM Mail™ interface, employees are given the opportunity to share their opinions anonymously on any new procedure, policy, or update that may have been publicized that month. With the ability to provide immediate, anonymous feedback, upper management receives concerns and comments from many employees. Without such a feedback mechanism it could take weeks or even months for a worker’s concerns about the organization to make its way through various levels of management via word of mouth or email. Without anonymous feedback, some workers may hold back on providing information with which management can consider changes.
Once the appropriate communications strategy is set into motion, it is important to track the progress of the communications campaign to facilitate continuous improvement. Some useful metrics to gather include:
- Unique user logins and/or visits, as well as the total page views
- Number of downloads of any related downloadable content
- The time of day or day of the week that the user participates
- Percentages of users contributing to surveys
By identifying trends or patterns within these metrics you can determine exactly when, where, and how your employees are, or aren’t, engaging to better replicate positive results in the future.
Disengaged employees cost the economy about $300 billion per year in wasted time, training and hiring expenses, lost customers, etc. [iii] It has become more and more apparent to successful organizations that engaging their employees is not only rewarding, but also necessary. What are you doing to engage your workforce? Let us know in the comments below. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
[i] “State of the American Workplace.” Gallup (2017): n. pag. Web. 8 Apr. 2017.
[ii] Robinson, D., S. Perryman, and S. Hayday. “The Drivers of Employee Engagement.” Institute for Employment Studies. Institute for Employment Studies, 2004. Web. 8 Apr. 2017.
[iii] Solomon, Markos, and M. Sandhya Sridevi. “Employee Engagement: The Key to Improving Performance.” International Journal of Business and Management. N.p., Dec. 2010. Web. 8 Apr. 2017.