According to SHRM, most business executives list improving employee engagement as one of their top five business strategies, and in today’s fully remote and hybrid work environments, this is something that is top-of-mind more than ever as organizations struggle to keep their cultures alive and their team members and teams connected beyond the four walls.
A recent Gallup poll of 14,705 full-time and part-time U.S. employees found that engagement is at its lowest, with only 32% of employees engaged in 2022, compared to 34% in 2021 and 36% in 2020. It’s trending down, but organizations can do something about it.
Why are we all so preoccupied with engagement?
Not only can engagement drastically affect employee retention, productivity and loyalty, but it is also a key link to customer satisfaction, company reputation and overall business performance. It is widely accepted and proven that employees who are actively involved and excited about their work and organization are more connected and committed to and more invested in the quality and outcome of their work and in their organization’s success. At the end of the day, individually engaged employees translate to engaged teams, which in turn translates to a greater ability to advance important business initiatives and achieve desired business outcomes–regardless of the type of organization and economic conditions. Engaged employees are emotionally invested in committing their energy, time and talent toward their team’s and the organization’s greater goals.
What can we do about it?
Engagement doesn’t just come from organizations creating opportunities for social connections or perks. Yes, these are nice, of course, and are usually appreciated and contribute to satisfaction, but they are far from enough. What else then? Although there isn’t one universally accepted list of factors that create employee engagement, most would agree that creating clear job expectations and development and growth opportunities, as well as getting meaningful and ongoing feedback, mentoring and recognition from one’s manager are all important factors to the development of employee engagement.
Companies are investing billions in HR/employee engagement platforms that help orchestrate communications and feedback, but what about one of the deepest, and most emotional levers of engagement? We’re talking about “purpose.” People want purpose and meaning from their work. The paycheck is no longer the top driving factor, and purpose is moving to the top of the list. Having an authentic and inspiring brand purpose your people can rally around is critical to creating employee engagement.
However, a purpose statement you just plaster on the walls or on your website is not good enough. You need to bring personal meaning to it by helping people connect the work they do every day to the organization’s brand purpose. They need to understand how their work matters beyond the product or services they create, make or sell – how they impact their communities, society or the environment. And they need to feel connected to each other by that shared purpose.
This is not a one-time said and done. This is about operationalizing your purpose so it is reinforced through all that you do. And so that it isn’t just nice words framed on the wall, but instead a breathing, alive North Star that guides your organization and your people.
So, go beyond job expectations, growth and development and communications and feedback. Go deeper to one of the most emotional forms of engagement. Connect your people one by one and “together as one” to a meaningful, shared brand. Take employee engagement to heart.
Sylvie Askins (Managing Partner/President) leads KHJ’s “Brand Inside” practice, which recognizes that successful branding starts with an organization’s employees and connects the corporate brand in a meaningful way at every stage of the employment life cycle.
Contact us to start a conversation about your organization’s “Brand Inside”.