How Can You Tell If An Employee Is On Board?

As a business grows, so does its headcount. And this can make maintaining the company culture — as well as employee engagement — much harder. It’s why employers need to be intentional about culture to get the results they want, even as business expands.

How to tell employee onboard

Employee engagement is the degree to which an individual person connects with and commits to the mission and goals of the organization. We define employee engagement as “individual passion working toward shared success.” That means engagement isn’t something you do to people; it’s something you inspire in them.

Employee engagement sometimes gets confused with employee satisfaction or employee happiness. Employee engagement is related to, but distinct from, the other two.

Through the 1980s and ‘90s, there was a growing academic interest in the impact of employee satisfaction on business outcomes. As our economy shifted to be increasingly about intellectual capital, the benefits of getting maximum contribution from the workforce grew. The concept evolved from employee satisfaction (what an employee gets from the relationship with their employer) to employee engagement (what the employee contributes to the organization).

Today, organizations that leave their workplace culture to chance leave themselves at risk of low performance, high turnover, and exposure in the court of public opinion as being undesirable workplaces.

On the other hand, organizations that have embraced an employee-centric approach and improved their business through employee engagement have reaped the rewards:

  • Greater productivity
  • Higher profitability
  • Lower turnover and absenteeism
  • Better workplace safety
  • Improved customer satisfaction

Employee engagement correlates to industry-specific success factors such as increased patient satisfaction and lower readmission rates in healthcare.

Today, with only about one third of employees engaged, according to Energage research, and historically low unemployment, employers are concerned with attracting talent that is truly committed to the success of the organization. And rightly so. Many companies have deployed employee engagement programs only to discover they generate a lot of information but few real insights for improvement.

Making progress starts with asking the right questions — and measuring the right things.

Academic definitions of employee engagement vary, although they remain very similar in concept. We look at three components:

  • Retention: Have you considered searching for a better job in the past month?
  • Recruiting: Do you highly recommend working at this company to others?
  • Productivity: Does your company motivate you to give your very best at work?

These factors, combined, are the most widely used and most strongly validated definition of engagement. If an employee is committed to do his or her best work, sees themselves staying with the company in the long term, and would recommend their employer as a place to work, then we would consider that employee engaged.

Laura Brinton is content marketing director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

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