Is employee engagement just about making your people happy? Five business reasons to think again…


team of ants carry log on bridge, teamwork

Employee engagement is merely about having happy people in the workplace right…? Wrong!  Engaged people can be happy, but happy people are not necessarily engaged.  And if they are not engaged your business can be significantly disadvantaged…

So, what does engagement mean?  There is no single definition, but a common thread is that someone highly engaged will exercise discretionary effort (often subconscious) to help their employer.  They will offer more of their capability and stretch their potential.  There is an emotional connection – the employee wants to go that extra mile.  They’ll do this when times are tough and routinely.  Employers cannot force this will and they cannot buy it.  It’s given voluntarily, or not at all.

Yet whilst our happy employee may well go about their business with a smile on their face, they won’t necessarily go the extra mile if they aren’t engaged.  They may merely see that taking their pay cheque whilst doing as little as possible is their personal route to satisfaction.

So if engagement is somewhat different to being happy, why should employers aim to maximise engagement?

Organisations undertaking related research like Engage for success, Gallup, Aon Hewitt, Towers Watson, CIPD and others have found some compelling evidence that should  make employers sit up and listen…

1. Your business is more likely to be financially successful

Organisations that have highly engaged staff report twice the profits of those with low levels of engagement; and revenue growth can be 2.5 times that of poorly engaged competitors.  94% of the most admired companies acknowledge that their efforts to engage their staff have created greater competitor advantage.  Surely something to make the Accountants sit up and take notice.

 2. Your staff are more likely to act as your ambassadors

If you get it right more of your employees are likely to become unofficial ambassadors for your business.  Four times as many people will say something nice about you and promote you to others as those who won’t.

Social media means that word gets about much more quickly, no longer is it a few people down the pub, instead twitter, facebook, linkedin, glassdoor etc means that what your people have to say about you will reach a much larger audience – so it’s in your interest to make this a positive engagement.

3. Your brand, reputation and customer service is enhanced

If your staff feel positive and valued they will naturally pass this on in how they engage with your customers.  If you are known to treat your people well your customers are more likely to reflect this in their perception of your brand.  Customers of highly engaged employers report 12% higher advocacy.  Just think about your own perceptions of brands such as John Lewis, Sports Direct, Uber and Amazon for comparisons.

4. Your business is more likely to be efficient, agile, innovative

Businesses with high levels of engagement report around 30% less internal theft and experience 20% higher productivity.  There can be up to 40% lower absenteeism, 40% fewer safety incidents, and 40% fewer quality defects.  Creativity can increase by up to 20 times, with engaged employees more likely to search out new methods and techniques, and transform innovative ideas into reality.

5. Your people will want to stay

Retaining key talent is often cited as one of the biggest challenges for employers, and hiring a significant cost, so it should be interesting to know that highly engaged employers report half the employee turnover level of their less engaged counterparts.

Even though wage inflation remains very low and has been for some time, over 60% of engaged employees would stay with their employer even if offered a pay rise of 20% to move; whilst nearly 60% of disengaged employees would leave for much less, the most disengaged will willingly leave for a 0% pay increase.

Enough evidence?

If you are interested to know about how we can help you make your business a more engaging workplace call us on 01353 749620 to discuss, or use our web contact form.