What Is Engagement?
“Engagement is a renewable daily decision that is voluntarily given when the company has proven worthy of it.”
Jason Lauritsen, Talent Anarchy
Engagement is a choice made by employees (and customers) alike. Employers have to earn it and maintain it; engagement is by no means a constant or something to take for granted. It can take time to build engagement, yet it can be quickly lost as employees’ attitudes towards the organisation and its values can change in the blink of an eye.
This article explores why engagement matters to businesses, its impact financially and operationally, what employers can do to build engagement, in addition to providing some examples of engagement in practice in a real business context at Business Clan.
Why Is Engagement Important?
According to a Gallup poll, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%, indicating a clear link between engagement levels, company performance and profitability.
In addition to financial outcomes, businesses are operationally more successful if their employees are engaged, as motivated and engaged employees typically display a more positive attitude towards their work, have higher productivity rates and are more likely to put in that extra effort to achieve the task at hand.
Customer satisfaction will improve as engaged teams offer better service because they are passionate about finding solutions, in making a difference and fulfilling their job roles to the best of their abilities. Word spreads, from customers and employees alike, about what a great place to work this is and suddenly recruitment and retention become a whole lot easier.
Engaged employees are better team players, able to see past their individual role in business success and understand their part in the bigger picture and less likely to take time off work through sickness or to leave the business.
What Drives Engagement and Loyalty?
Engagement is a complex concept, with physical and emotional factors playing a key role alongside traditional management practices and leadership theories. Although there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to driving engagement, there are common themes that arise:
- Social Connections: Relates to the team culture, collaboration within the business, the opportunity and means of interacting with each other in the work environment or via social events;
- A Supportive Culture: Dedicated people management, with line managers or business leaders putting in time and effort to developing, motivating and enabling their teams to succeed;
- Emotional Affinity: The connection an individual has with the organisation. How personally invested they are in the business, their belief in the vision and values of the organisation;
- Personal Well-Being: Includes the physical workspace (facilities, comfort levels, security, noise, space) in addition to work-life balance, flexibility, enabling employees to make good health, food and exercise choices;
Building these pillars of engagement will lead to stronger job performance as employees’ passion and enthusiasm (stemming from their emotional connection with the organisation) drives them to go the extra mile in their work. It will also ease the burden of recruitment as engagement drives retention and reduces employee turnover.
Strong employee engagement will naturally lead to employee loyalty but it’s important to recognise that there are various types of loyalty at play, with the potential to exist in isolation or concurrently:
Loyalty to the Brand: Refers to the affinity to brand vision and values, the emotional connection that individuals make to the brand;
Loyalty to the Leader: The relationship employees have with their leader (a Manager or Company Director usually), how they are motivated, how passion for the job is inspired;
Loyalty to Others: This could be the team if there is a strong social connection and collaborative environment, or it could be the client base if there are shared values and belief systems.
Engagement in Practice at Business Clan
As FSB Employer of the Year 2018, here at Business Clan we have had the opportunity to showcase our commitment and success in driving loyalty and engagement within our business. Our pillars of engagement are:
Flexibility: the business’ foundation is providing flexible working for all, enabling our team to undertake high level professional client work without committing to full time, on-site positions;
Mutual Trust and Support: A management structure based on adult relationships, trust and respect, team members work autonomously with the full support of the Directors;
Clear and Present Leadership: our Directors, Delia and Nicolle, are in the business every day, whether it’s working in the office or out at client visits or events. They are readily available for questions or to provide advice and guidance and the team know they can always ask for help.
Opportunities to Learn: Learning is a huge focus at Business Clan, whether it’s up-skilling, cross-skilling, professional development or learning from each other through collaborative projects. We share knowledge and encourage a culture of continuous development.
Open Communication: When you don’t all work in the office every day, effective communication becomes essential and our regular company meetings and updates keep us all well-informed, complimented by social events, catch ups and, of course, a few award win celebrations.
Here are a few key numbers demonstrating engagement and loyalty in practice at Business Clan:
- 70% of the team have over 2 years’ service (the business has been operating for 4 years);
- 50% joined Business Clan via personal referrals, demonstrating that our employees shout about Business Clan as a great employer;
- 30% heard about Business Clan via networking events or award wins;
- 100% of Business Clan employees work flexibly, either part time, from home or term time only.
If you would like some help building engagement and loyalty at your business, or would like to learn more about becoming a great employer as well as a fantastic business, please get in touch.