According to SHRM, most business executives list improving employee engagement as one of their top-five business strategies. In today’s remote and hybrid work environments, this is top-of-mind more than ever as organizations struggle to keep their cultures alive and their teams connected beyond office 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’s also a key link to customer satisfaction, company reputation, and overall business performance. It’s widely accepted and proven that employees who are actively involved and excited about their work and organization are more connected, committed to, and invested in the quality and outcome of their work and their organization’s success.
At the end of the day, individually engaged employees translate to engaged teams, which in turn translate to the 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 and 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’re far from enough. What else then? Although there isn’t a universal list of factors that create employee engagement, most would agree that creating clear job expectations and growth opportunities, as well as getting meaningful and ongoing feedback, mentoring, and recognition from one’s manager are all important.
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, plastering a purpose statement on the wall or your website isn’t 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 why 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 sort of thing. This is about mobilizing your purpose so that it’s reinforced through all that you do. That way, it’s not just nice words framed on the wall, but a living, breathing North Star that guides your organization and your people.