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A complete resource about Company Culture by O.C. Tanner
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Employee Engagement

What it is:
Engagement is a measure of how much discretionary effort an employee is willing to give to their work and their organization. Engagement is an intangible measure: part passion, commitment, and motivation. Companies used to try and drive engagement, dressing up their work cultures using perks and benefits or fun workspaces to get employees to be more engaged. But organizations are learning that you can’t drive engagement, you can only be a place employees want to engage with.

True engagement exists in employees who frequently share a sense of accomplishment, who work toward a common purpose, and understand how their work impacts your business and helps the world. Engagement is, in fact, a measure of connection. Companies with high employee engagement connect their people together. It’s the same type of connection companies try to facilitate through catered lunches and ping pong tables. But there’s a difference between having an inspirational purpose vs. having an inspirational purpose that employees connect to. Having a common goal vs. having a common goal that employees work together toward. Celebrating wins and celebrating victories together. 

Companies with highly engaged employees are able to connect their employees to a purpose, the organization, and one another. While Gallup reports that employee engagement is at all time high at 34%, it also means 2/3rds of the workforce is still not engaged.

“When employees feel validated and feel a part of the bigger picture, and a part of the strategy, we all work harder. We do more. We put more effort into everything we do and we do better work. That impacts the shareholders. That impacts corporate initiatives. That impacts the bottom line. It’s very good business sense to make sure that we have an engaged workforce.”

—Curtis Kesler, Human Resources Operations Service Line Leader at Dow Chemical

How it impacts culture:
Companies that have employees who feel engaged see better business results. Organizations with highly engaged employees have:

• Earnings-per-share growth that is more than 4X their competitors
• 21% higher profitability
• 41% reduced absenteeism
• 59% less turnover
• 10% increase in customer ratings
• 20% increase in sales
• A 3% increase in revenue (with a 5-point increase in engagement)

On the other hand, disengagement can cost companies up to $550B a year.

How to do it well:
You can’t drive employee engagement, but you can become a place employees want to engage with:   

1. Provide a line of sight. Connect an employee’s specific work to your company’s purpose and show how they are making a difference for your company, customers, and community. Use recognition to help make the connection between an individual’s work and company success.

2. Create a sense of belonging. Employees are naturally more engaged when they feel connected to their teams and the company. Train leaders to build an inclusive culture and have robust onboarding processes throughout the first year to help new hires find their place. Check in often with employees to get their feedback on the company culture to see what can be improved.

3. Celebrate victories together. Whether it’s big wins or little triumphs, career milestones or company successes, celebrating together and appreciating the work of employees builds bonds better than any work perk or teambuilding activity.

Check out everything you need to know about employee engagement.

“Our workplace culture is definitely one of our biggest differentiators. People work here because they believe in our mission and culture. It’s up to us to ensure that culture is sustainable. By having effective recognition solutions in place, we are able to encourage people to align with our mission while demonstrating their own unique work ethic and passion.”

—Dana Ullom-Vucelich, Chief Human Resources & Ethics Officer at Ohio Living

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