Employee Engagement Ideas: Going Beyond Perks

Drawing on Gallup’s State of the Global workplace report, here is how your company can support employee engagement.

What is employee engagement and why it’s essential

Employee engagement is essential for the success of the company, driving performance and loyalty. It goes beyond mere job satisfaction; it encompasses the emotional commitment an employee has towards their organisation and its goals. Engaged employees are enthusiastic, invested and motivated, translating their commitment into tangible benefits for the company.

Gallup’s annual State of the Global Workplace report offers an insightful look into employee engagement levels worldwide. This report, which includes real testimonials from employees, paints a vivid picture of the current state of engagement beyond mere statistics. This year’s report reveals that only 23% of employees globally are engaged. Although this figure has remained consistent since last year when it reached a new record high, other variables affecting employee experience have shown a decline.

Employee engagement is influenced by various factors, including mental health, workload, benefits, quality of life, management and financial security. Understanding these drivers is crucial for business leaders. Gallup’s report highlights key elements such as meaningful work, recognition and opportunities for development as vital components of engagement. Addressing these areas helps organisations create an environment where employees feel valued and motivated.

By focusing on real data and understanding the true experiences of employees, organizations can move beyond superficial perks and develop strategies that genuinely enhance engagement. This approach not only benefits employees but also contributes to the long-term success and competitiveness of the organisation.

 

Engaged employees show up, and keep showing up

Engaged employees are less likely to miss work. They feel a sense of responsibility and commitment to their roles, which leads to lower absenteeism and higher retention rates. Organisations with high employee engagement have a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 59% lower turnover rate. This reliability ensures continuity and stability within teams and projects, creating a more cohesive and productive work environment.

More than just being present, when employees are truly engaged, they are motivated to perform at their best. When their personal goals align with the company’s objectives, this makes them more likely to go above and beyond in their roles. Engaged employees are more productive, provide better customer service and are more likely to stay with the company, reducing turnover and associated costs.

Contrastingly, disengaged employees are more likely to experience burnout and absenteeism. This may even influence others negatively, creating a ripple effect throughout the organisation that can affect productivity and overall workplace atmosphere.  Moreover, disengaged employees are more likely to leave their jobs. This year’s State of the Global Workplace report shows that in the UK, only 10% of employees are engaged in their workplace, leading to phenomena like ‘quiet quitting’.  The reasons beyond disengaged employees can be plenty, but a study by the Work Institute found that 22% of employees leave their jobs due to lack of career development opportunities.

It is in a company’s best interest to keep employees engaged, as disengagement can severely impact business performance and lead to enormous costs. It is estimated that low employee engagement costs the global economy $8.9 trillion, or 9% of global GDP. Employers must listen to their employees and create strategies that foster a committed and motivated workforce.

 

Engaged employees have great ideas

The 2024 State of the Global Workplace report also underscores the stark contrast between engaged and disengaged employees when it comes to new ideas and overall contribution. Engaged employees exhibit higher levels of innovation, are more willing to embrace change and contribute positively to the company culture. When employees are engaged, they are more likely to be more productive. Their commitment and enthusiasm drive them to go beyond their basic job duties, offering fresh perspectives and solutions.

Employers could support the employees’ ideas through innovative approaches like ‘digital kaizen’. For instance, digital kaizen has revolutionized processes in sectors such as auditing and advertising, where frontline employees play a crucial role in identifying areas for automation and improvement. At firms like PwC, a digital kaizen platform acts as an internal “app store,” enabling employees to submit ideas and transform them into functional prototypes using accessible toolkits. This initiative not only enhances transparency in idea evaluation and selection but also fosters a culture where frontline employees actively contribute to scaling automation solutions. PwC’s initiative exemplifies how finding solutions to make employee ideas and voices heard will lead to more engagement and sustainable business growth.

 

Engaged employees bring in more revenue

Engaged employees bring in more revenue due to their direct impact on business performance. Research consistently underscores this correlation, highlighting significant financial benefits for organisations that prioritise employee engagement. Gallup’s findings reveal that companies with high levels of employee engagement are not only more productive but also 21% more profitable compared to their less engaged counterparts. This boost in profitability stems from engaged employees’ heightened commitment to achieving company goals.

Conversely, the costs associated with disengaged workers are substantial. According to a Deloitte report, American businesses suffer staggering losses amounting to approximately $300 billion annually due to decreased productivity caused by employee disengagement. These losses underscore the critical importance of fostering a work environment that promotes engagement, where employees feel empowered to contribute their best efforts.

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Engaging employees by going beyond a perks platform

While traditional perks like free lunches and gym memberships are appreciated, they are not enough to keep employees truly engaged. Genuine engagement requires a deeper connection and more thoughtful strategies that address employees’ needs and aspirations.

CEO of CCS Konstantin Von Vietinghoff identifies that “The real problem with employee engagement is the continuous pressures, insufficient middle management education, leadership issues, atmospheric issues in the workplace, lack of growth and recognition of individual employee needs, diversity and inclusion issues.” Konstantin Von Vietinghoff, CEO, CCS (See LinkedIn profile).

Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report highlights that employee disengagement stems not only from relationships with managers and leadership but also from policies and external factors. For example, the report indicates that countries with robust labour protections and economic opportunities have lower levels of active disengagement among employees. This suggests that job market conditions and labour laws significantly impact employee engagement and well-being.

Creating a positive work environment within the workplace is essential. Here are three main pillars to driving employee engagement within the company:

Focus on management quality

According to Gallup, management quality accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement. Effective managers who provide regular feedback and foster a supportive team environment can significantly boost engagement levels. However, ensuring managers themselves remain engaged presents a unique challenge. Despite higher pay, social status, and a sense of organisational connection, managers often face significant challenges. They are more susceptible to stress, negative emotions like anger and sadness, and feelings of loneliness compared to their non-managerial counterparts. The responsibilities of managing teams and addressing employee needs place considerable emotional strain on managers, making it essential for organisations to invest in their engagement and well-being.

Leadership should not pin the entire responsibility of employee engagement on managers alone. Instead, they must actively ensure that managers are listened to and valued for their efforts. This involves hiring and developing managers who can inspire and engage their teams, training them to provide consistent, meaningful feedback, and recognising individual strengths.

 

Integrate engagement into company culture

Employee engagement should be a core part of the business strategy. This involves finding ways to engage with employees and ensuring they are content with their workplace. Below, we outline several ideas to enhance employee engagement.

 

Support employee well-being

The 2024 State of the Global Workforce report has shown a decline in mental health among people under 35 years old, with 20% of employees experiencing daily loneliness due to social isolation. It is crucial to research ways to support employees’ wellbeing at work and encourage managers to create a positive work culture with a focus on mental health.

By focusing on these pillars—improving management quality, integrating engagement into company culture, and supporting employee wellbeing—employers can create a more engaged, productive, and satisfied workforce.

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