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Dec 16, 2021

Approx. 11 min. read

Employee Engagement: Definition, Current State, and Best Practices

What is employee engagement? How to improve it? How to measure it? How to sustain high employee engagement levels?...

Employee engagement

What is employee engagement? How to improve it? How to measure it? How to sustain high employee engagement levels?...

These are just a few questions employers worldwide have been trying to answer for decades now. As workplace trends have been continuously changing, many employers find it difficult to adjust and keep up with the unprecedented times we have been facing in the past few years. 

Even though there is no secret sauce or a quick win for improving employee engagement in the workplace, there are specific rules and best practices every employer should follow. 

In this blog, we will talk about the definition of employee engagement, explain how to drive motivation in the workplace, and share a few exciting employee engagement facts. 

📚Download the eBook "10 Principles of Modern Employee Communications" and learn how to communicate with the modern employee in today's digital age. 

Employee Engagement: Definition and New Drivers

There is no single, globally accepted definition of employee engagement. According to Wikipedia, an engaged employee is 

“one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests. An engaged employee has a positive attitude towards the organization and its values.”

employee-engagement-definition

The challenge, however, doesn’t lay behind finding the correct definition. It has always been about discovering the proper drivers and implementing changes that support those drivers. 

Take work flexibility, for example. A few years back, this certainly wasn’t one of the main drivers for employee engagement. Today, many employees say flexible working time and location are prerequisites for their satisfaction, directly correlated with engagement. 

Then, take the work-life balance and employee wellbeing. These are probably the top 2 concerns for many employers today, and they seem to be the main drivers of The Great Resignation

📙 Since your company culture plays a big role in driving employee engagement, we have prepared for you a guide for building a positive workplace culture

The Current State of Employee Engagement in the Workplace

Due to the pandemic and turbulent times for many people, 2020 was the year of considerable change. Researchers have been tracking the engagement of the workforce during these unprecedented times of disruption.

It is not news anymore that hybrid and remote work have entirely changed the way we work and engage with our colleagues. 

But here is the current state as explained by Gallup:

“After wild fluctuations in 2020, and hitting a peak level early this year, employee engagement has settled down in the U.S.”

And here are a few of the most interesting windings from their latest research:

  • 36% of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace
  • Globally, 20% of employees are engaged at work
  • The percentage of actively disengaged employees is up slightly in the U.S., from 14% in 2020 to 15% through June 2021
  • The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged workers in the U.S. is 2.4-to-1, down slightly from 2020 when the ratio was 2.6-to-1

employee-engagement-current-state-gallup

💡 Learn how to ensure a smooth transition to hybrid work

Employee Engagement vs. Employee Experience

Employee engagement and employee experience often get used interchangeably even though they don’t mean the same thing. 

To make it as simple as possible, we explain employee engagement as the consequence of employee experience. In other words, employee experience is made of all the employee touchpoints throughout their career journey, and these touchpoints have a direct impact on the level of engagement in the workplace. 

Employee experience was introduced mostly to help employers define those career experiences that drive higher levels of motivation, work satisfaction, and ultimately, engagement. 

📙 To ensure a positive employee experience in the workplace, check out our ultimate employee experience guide

👀 If you are struggling to engage your distributed workforce, check out these 9 tips by IC and HR experts!

 

10 Interesting Facts About Employee Engagement

Throughout decades, there has been plenty of research about employee engagement, so we have pulled a set of the most powerful employee engagement statistics out there:

employee-engagement-communication

How to Increase Employee Engagement in 2022 and Beyond

There is no secret sauce for driving employee engagement in the workplace. However, understanding the drivers of employee motivation and engagement is crucial

A thorough examination of what your employees are looking for: their careers, managers, and workplaces, makes it much easier to satisfy them. This, its turn, increases their engagement, productivity, and retention.  

Before you even start executing your employee engagement strategy, it is essential that you follow these 3 steps:

1. Identify employee personas

Employees can have many different characteristics depending on their age, gender, geolocations, cultural differences, psychological factors, personal preferences, and the nature of their jobs. 

Understanding these differences in highly multigenerational and dispursed workplaces is critical for defining the drivers of higher engagement among different employee groups. 

Still, many employers try to guess what their employees care about and stand for. They define a single workplace culture and hope that all employees adjust to it. 

While this approach may work for some startups, it usually doesn’t work for larger organizations where employees’ values differ greatly. 

For example, even within one company, a corporate employee in the United States would be driven by completely different factors than a frontline employee in Algeria.

💡 How to: Perform focus interviews with different employee groups to identify commonalities and similar characteristics among these employees. 

📙 Not sure how to define your organization’s EVP? Check out our complete EVP guide!

2. Define the drivers of positive employee experience

After you have defined your employee personas, identify various EX drivers for each of them. However, you don’t need to start from scratch. There has been a lot of existing research about the biggest drivers for employee satisfaction in the workplace. 

Here are some of them:

💡 How to: Create a simple employee survey and distribute it to different employee personas to better understand what are their biggest drivers for an engagement at work. 

🎧 Listen to our podcast about the opportunity of employee experience. 

 

3. Create an execution strategy

Now that you understand what each of the employee groups cares about the most, the next step is to create a strategy around improving those drivers

For example, if your employees care about being recognized and you don’t have an employee recognition program, you can start by implementing a formal recognition program

If they care about work-life balance and well-being, consider implementing an employee well-being program

In case they don’t feel like they get enough feedback or don’t have a way to provide on-the-spot feedback, think about how to introduce a new employee feedback program

Furthermore, if your employees care about diversity and inclusion, you can start thinking about how to improve diversity in the workplace. 

If they are looking for more flexibility, consider a hybrid work arrangement

Finally, if your employees feel like there is a lack of alignment with corporate goals and strategy, that probably means that you need to invest more in internal communications

📙 To learn more about improving employee engagement in the workplace using each driver, check out our detailed employee engagement guide

How to Measure Employee Engagement

One of the first prerequisites for improving employee engagement in the workplace is measuring it. If you don't understand the current state of engagement, it is hard to make decisions for improvement. And if you don’t measure the impact of new initiatives, you can never know what works well. 

Still, 58% of employees wish their company measured employee engagement more frequently

employee-engagement-survey

But how can we measure employee engagement?

Employee engagement is measured using different employee engagement surveys. Depending on a company, some surveys may be a better fit than others. 

Also, instead of having annual or bi-annual surveys, consider introducing regular employee pulse surveys to track the progress of employee engagement in your company. 

Here are just a few questions to consider:

  1. How do you feel about work today?
  2. How do you feel about work today?
  3. Do you feel excited about coming to work?
  4. Are you proud of working for [organization]?
  5. Are you satisfied with your current compensation and benefits?
  6. Do you enjoy working with your team?
  7. Do you find your work for [organization] meaningful?
  8. Does [organization]’s vision and values inspire you?
  9. Does [organization]’s vision and values inspire you?
  10. Do you feel like your supervisor is invested in your success?

Taking Employee Engagement to the Next Level With the Right Technology

Keeping up with all the best practices and new HR trends is not easy. However, human resources professionals are lucky to be able to leverage various HR tech tools available on the market today. 

Solutions such as employee engagement apps and employee experience platforms are designed to follow the latest trends in the HR world. They enable organizations to become desirable employers to work for. 

The importance of the HR tech stack should never be neglected. Moreover, this is one of the fastest-growing markets that exist today and that’s for a reason - the war for talent has never been more intense. Hence, every employer is trying to find the best solutions for attracting new talent, and engaging and retaining existing talent

Schedule a Smarp demo today to learn about how other organizations have managed to improve the workplace experience and employee engagement with it!

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Written by

Kristina Martic

Kristina Martic

Digital Marketing and Employer Branding

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