Why HR Needs to Care About Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has joined the pantheon of human resources buzzwords of late. Attend any conference and it will be thrown around to and fro, guaranteed. But what’s the big deal? If employees show up and get their work done, does it really matter how “engaged” they are? Yes, it matters. Engagement is everything. Here’s why.

Creating a Virtuous Cycle

Engaged employees, those who have good relationships with their supervisors and feel valued and heard by their employers, have lower rates of turnover than disengaged employees, says Meredith Falb, marketing manager for CorporateRewards.com, an engagement tool combining software and consultation.

Not only do they stay with employers longer, but engaged employees are also more productive, “which manifests itself in superior financial performance and reputation. As the company becomes more profitable and better known, it creates a virtuous cycle: attractive company = better recruits = better results,” says Falb.

As their engagement increases, your employees will become better ambassadors of your brand. When they’re happy with where they work, they will proudly recommend it to job seekers and prospective clients. All of this is great for your bottom line.

Disengagement Damages Employers

As much as 70 percent of the American workforce is not actively engaged at work, and these disengaged workers directly affect the bottom line, according to Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report, which was released in September 2013.

“Gallup estimates that these actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity,” says the report. “They are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away.”

“Disengaged employees often show signs that they don’t know what is expected of them,” says Lisa Mullen, manager of corporate human resources at talent management platform Halogen Software. “They may not feel like they have the resources they need to do their job, or have a poor relationship with their manager.”

Just like their proud and engaged counterparts, these unhappy individuals will also tell people about your organization, but what they say will differ. Don’t let them scare off potential business or talent.

How HR Can Increase Engagement

“HR’s role is to set the strategy and the vision, drive programs and engage the leaders of the organization at all levels to help drive best practices for increasing employee engagement,” says Mullen, who offers these tips.

  • Give employees regularly, meaningful feedback about their performance.
  • Be clear about goals and expectations in every role.
  • Help employees see how their work contributes to the success of the organization as a whole.
  • Reward employees fairly and recognize good work.
  • Create professional development opportunities because “employees who see a clear career path with an organization are much more likely to stay.”

Other ways to increase engagement include using surveys or informal gatherings to solicit feedback from employees, developing a culture of transparency from C-suite employees, especially during large transitions, and fostering relationships throughout the organization at all levels.

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