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Employee Engagement: The Secret Ingredient

May 2023
  • Global employee engagement is trending downward, with only 21% of employees being actively engaged. 
  • This lack of engagement not only has major economic implications, but also implications on the well-being of companies and employees alike. 
  • Improving employee engagement must come from the top-down, starting with corporate strategies that empower managers. 
  • The most effective B2E experiences utilize both cognitive and experiential learning exercises, tools, and resources to engage, educate, and empower employees. 

 

INTRODUCTION

While we sometimes speak about businesses as if they are their own entities, a business is ultimately a collection of people, working under the same banner towards a common goal. Without the people, i.e., employees, doing the work, there isn’t much of a business to talk about. So, it would follow that any business that wanted to succeed would do everything in its power to motivate those employees to perform their roles to the best of their abilities. Unfortunately, whatever businesses are doing to engage their employees is simply not good enough; only 21% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. In this report, we dive into the current state of employee engagement, why it matters, and what businesses can do to bridge the gap. 


STATE OF ENGAGEMENT

You might be saying, ‘what’s the big deal if employees aren’t fully engaged at work? If they do their jobs, it shouldn’t matter’. Well, you’d be mistaken, as employee engagement has a huge impact on the global economic outlook. Gallup estimates that low employee engagement costs the global economy US$7.8 trillion and accounts for 11% of GDP globally; a strong link between engagement and performance outcomes, such as retention, productivity, safety, and profitability was found.

Now the good news is that the U.S. & Canada have the most engaged employees in the world, with 33% of employees engaged, and the second most comfortable employees, with 51% living comfortably on present income. But the good news stops there. Stress reached an all-time high for employees in 2021, with 44% experiencing stress daily, breaking the previous record set in 2020. While other negative emotions, such as anger, worry, and sadness, did not reach their peak levels of 2020, they all remain above pre-pandemic levels in employees around the world. All these experiences add up and can severely impact employee well-being.

An employee experiences burnout

We often think of engagement as something that happens at work and well-being as something that happens outside of work, but research suggests that’s a false dichotomy. Employees who consistently experience high levels of burnout at work say their job makes it difficult to fulfill their family responsibilities. They are also 23% more likely to visit the emergency room. Conversely, well-being influences life at work. Employees who are engaged at work but not thriving have a 61% higher likelihood of ongoing burnout than those who are engaged and thriving. When employees are engaged and thriving, they experience significantly less stress, anger, and health problems. Globally, only 9% of employees are in that thriving and engaged category — while the majority (57%) of the world’s employees are not engaged and not thriving.

 

HOW TO IMPROVE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Improving employee engagement starts from the top down. It requires not just a corporate commitment but also a strategy that considers every stage of the employee lifecycle and how best to engage at each stage. From pre-hire to departure, there are always more steps you can take to ensure that your employees are developing meaningful relationships with their work, with their team, with their managers, and with the company culture itself.

One of the first key steps you can take is to empower your leaders and your managers to prioritize employee engagement, both in their day-to-day interactions as well as holistically as an initiative. 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager. With that importance comes the needed responsibility and expectation that management cores are initiating those conversations and experiences which ultimately have a huge impact on employee engagement.  

So, what are tangible ways you can help empower your management to keep employees interested and enthusiastic? By giving them the tools, resources, experiences, and education to apply to their teams. In designing business-to-employee (B2E) experiences, companies should focus on engaging, educating, and empowering management and employees. According to educator Edgar Dale, “Participants retain 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, and 90% of what they experience”. So, when designing these B2E experiences, one should use a combination of cognitive learning exercises and experiential learning exercises, which come together to create greater comprehension and development of metacognitive leadership skills. 

While cognitive learning focuses more on the foundational instruction of the core concepts (while still being interactive), experiential learning is the more hands-on simulations where employees can develop practical skills that they can apply in their day-to-day. In essence, the goal is to engage participants through a tailored curriculum, educate through the transformation from passive to active learning, and empower through ongoing tools and resources to ensure that impact lasts longer.

Employees undergoing experiential training


CONCLUSION

Increasing employee engagement is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it never will be. Employees are individuals, after all, and engagement at work can wane for many different reasons. And in many ways, companies around the world are not doing enough to address the issues that employees face, both at work and at home, that are impeding productivity and enthusiasm at work.  

Tangible experiences assist employees in actively interacting with their teams, management, and work, while ongoing tools and resources allow for continual growth and reinforcement of these learned principles. Together they translate to more confidence, more appreciation, more engagement, and ultimately, a better bottom line. 

So how are you keeping your employees engaged? 

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