What is Employee Engagement?
While many leaders think employee engagement surveys alone can improve their organization, CultureIQ’s decades of research show that improving overall culture is a far more effective way to improve business outcomes and propel growth. Employee engagement, while important, is a direct outcome of a strong company culture.
What is employee engagement? It refers to how employees feel about their culture and their jobs. The stronger a company’s culture, the better employees understand what is expected of them and what they’re working toward. Engaged employees are more likely to stay happy, motivated, and committed to your company. Overall, an engaged employee is more:
- Connected to your company’s mission
- Motivated to exceed their goals
- Proactive about learning new skills and starting new projects
- Positive in their approach to work
- Creative in solving problems
- Committed to developing their careers are your organization
So you can see that engaged employees do provide a whole bunch of benefits to your organization: Higher productivity, better customer relations, and lower turnover are just a start. Just check out the numbers:
- Highly engaged employees are 21% more productive.
- Seventy-three percent of disengaged employees are actively looking for jobs, compared with 37% of engaged employees.
- Increasing your investment into engagement by 10% can increase your profits by $2,400 per employee each year.
According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2015, company culture and employee engagement are driving issues for organizations around the world. These words get thrown around a lot, and rightly so. Here’s more on how CultureIQ approaches the two topics.
What is Organizational Culture?
Organizational culture determines how and why things get done in your organization. Your organizational culture reflects the environment, the behaviors, the values, the office rituals, and the language of those working in one workplace.
What is a High-Performance Company Culture?
Not all organizational cultures are created equal. Your company’s behaviors and norms can be unhealthy and unsupportive. But take heart: Your organization has the power to build a high-performance culture. A high-performance culture has behaviors and norms that lead your organization to achieve superior results by setting clear business goals, defining employees’ responsibilities, creating a trusting environment, and encouraging employees to continuously grow and reinvent themselves. High-performance cultures are supportive, positive, and proactive. They engage employees daily. Companies with high-performance cultures lead their industry and recruit top talent (think Google). These are companies with a distinct culture that allows them to stay competitive in the employer and financial market. If you want to dive deeper into this topic, you can read more here.
How Does Culture Affect Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is a direct outcome of a high-performance company culture. Why? Because high-performance cultures clearly outline behaviors and norms that are healthy and supportive. Employees clearly understand their culture and what is expected of them. They feel connected. They feel involved. They feel supported. And, therefore, they feel engaged. Culture and employee engagement are closely tied. To improve employee engagement, start by improving your company culture.
Here are a few ways to do so:
Clearly Define Your Culture
The first step to having a strong culture — one that leads to strong engagement — is documenting it. Your culture is the DNA and backbone of your organization. As you would with any business strategy or objective, define it clearly! To start, work with your leadership team to define:
Document your defined culture
This can be in a presentation, an employee handbook, your Intranet system — or all of the above. Once you’ve done so, widely distribute your documented culture. Follow up on the materials by presenting your defined culture. This can take place at company-wide town halls, team meetings, manager-employee 1:1 meetings — or, again, all of the above.
Survey Your Employees
Measure your organization’s culture regularly. In doing so, you’ll:
- Understand what’s working in your company culture
- Understand what to improve in your company culture
- Make employees feel heard
- Uncover ideas from employees you may not have thought of
Here are five creative ways to use employee surveys to strengthen your culture and, therefore, employee engagement.
Involve Your Employees
Once you’ve learned how to improve your culture, involve your employees! Communicate your action plan that stems from their feedback. Create focus groups around your action items. Hold options brainstorm sessions to gather ideas from employees. However you choose to involve employees, the payoff will be big. Employees will feel they’re helping shape their company culture — and they’ll increase their engagement in the process.
Employee Engagement? Company Culture? The Struggle is Real.
Eighty-seven percent of HR leaders state that company culture and engagement are their biggest challenges. It makes sense. There are several reasons culture and engagement are rising as relevant challenges for organizations.
To start, employer branding has become more and more important. Employees are very much like customers. With the changes in the job market, employees have greater opportunities than they had in the past. This puts employers in the position of having to actively attract employees, all while employees’ perceptions about work are changing.
For the most part, employees no longer prioritize staying at a single job until retirement, and instead, they are more likely to choose a job that interests them and aligns with their passion and values. Cue organizational culture and employee engagement.
Culture and engagement can also feel nebulous. Values? Behaviors? Norms? How do you dial into each of these to improve culture and, thus, engagement? Start with the recommendations above. Surveying employees, especially, will transform something that feels particularly qualitative into a quantitative objective. You’ll be able to measure, analyze, and report against your culture. And what you can measure, you can improve.
Not a one and done
Creating a strong culture has a lot of pressure. It’s not a one-and-done objective to achieve. Instead, your culture needs to be regularly cultivated for long-term value. Employee engagement is the same way — it will ebb and flow. Your organization needs to regularly invest in culture to regularly see the resulting engaged employee base.By providing training opportunities, the latest in technological advancements, managerial support, and an open mind about what makes a great workplace environment, companies can evolve to keep pace with employees’ expectations to really drive success. The key is that this is an ongoing process. Engagement doesn’t just happen — you have to focus employee needs over time, and use that to drive a strong culture.