Each business aims to have a fully engaged workforce. After all, engaged workers produce more, are less likely to quit, and are more likely to go the extra mile to make customers happy. But what does employee engagement actually mean? It’s more than employees liking their work, enjoying benefits, or thinking the salary is right, although these are part of it.
At its core, employee performance and engagement is really about the emotional connection workers feel to the business and employer. Emotionally-invested workers feel like they’re a part of something bigger, and that the culture and mission of the business contribute to their well-being. They aren’t just carrying out specific tasks to collect a paycheck; the company is integral to how they define who they are and how they feel about themselves.
Performance is only part of the engaged employee picture. Workers can be great at their jobs and be distant from the company while highly engaged employees aren’t necessarily great at every task thrown their way. Engagement is a spectrum, running from the unengaged – ‘I turn up for the pay’ – to the super-engaged – ‘I’d work here for free’. It is intrinsically linked to how emotionally connected, or invested, we feel to the business.
The Facts of Engagement
Most employers kid themselves by thinking that the majority of their employees are engaged with the business. However, Gallup’s research begs to differ: They found that just a third of American employees were involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed (i.e.: fully engaged) to their workplace in 2016.
Everything that happens at work has an impact on our lives both in and out of the workplace and as such, the entire employee experience is judged and can impact engagement.
Employee engagement begins even before a new hire starts their first day. The offer letter, onboarding paperwork, and processes, as well as the first-day experience, will contribute to each individual’s level of engagement with a company right from the outset – and it will affect their emotional attachment.
An employee’s connection, loyalty, or engagement with a company isn’t owed – it is earned. Leadership teams must work to earn commissions, just as we earn trust and loyalty in our personal relationships.
Forgetting the Emotional Connection
Employee feedback surveys are often half-hearted routines. When simply run as a requirement by the HR team, or because the organizational leaders insisted, they don’t really make much difference to employee engagement. In fact, these surveys often make it worse.
Effective employee feedback systems, including surveys, have questions about the business strategy, salary, benefits, and workplace culture. They also include questions about how workers feel about their company and workplace.
When inquiries relating to how people feel and their emotions relating to the business are left out, leaders miss an opportunity to build an emotional connection between employees and the business. Doing so will actually help to increase employee engagement.
Measuring Emotional Connection
Quantifying emotions and emotional connections is not a simple task. Asking questions about feelings pushes people to look beyond their conscious calculating minds to their emotions, a part of ourselves that we traditionally strive to keep in strict control when at work.
All the same, to increase an employee’s emotional connection and enhance the employee experience, it is necessary to try to gauge employees’ feelings about work, the company, and their colleagues. Fortunately, there are a few different ways in which employers can do this. While none are perfect, all are better than not trying at all.
There are various techniques you can choose from, such as direct employee engagement surveys, implicit association tests, or analyzing employee comments to determine underlying feelings. Regardless of method, assessing employee feelings is essential for improving the emotional attachment that is necessary for healthy employee engagement.
15five is a performance management solution elevates the performance and engagement of employees by continuously asking questions and starting the right conversations. Visit them here: www.15five.com