introduction to employee engagement

Many consider employee engagement as one of the strongest predictors of workforce performance. High levels of engagement can boost business outcomes, such as increased productivity and higher levels of customer satisfaction. On the other hand, disengagement in the workforce can have a negative and costly impact, such as higher turnover and increased absenteeism.

Considering today’s highly competitive job market, rising costs and fluctuating consumer demands, maintaining a productive workforce is more important than ever. These factors make focusing on workforce engagement a top priority. Continue reading to learn more about what employee engagement is, why it’s critical for your organisation and how to boost engagement in your workforce.


what is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is often a misunderstood term. It’s not equivalent to employee happiness or worker satisfaction. In fact, an employee can be happy with their job and even satisfied with their workload but still not be engaged in the workplace. While employee engagement can drive higher levels of job satisfaction and workplace happiness, it’s a different measurement.

You can define employee engagement as the level of commitment and enthusiasm employees have towards their work, employers and workplaces. Employees who are highly engaged care about their employers and their core values. It’s not uncommon for these employees to serve as brand advocates for the organisation by referring both potential candidates and customers.

On the other hand, disengaged employees feel disconnected from employers — as well as from company goals and values. These disengaged employees can feel indifferent or even have a negative opinion of their employers. They often lack motivation to advance within a company, which can lead to higher turnover rates and diminished productivity.

employee engagement vs employee experience

Employee engagement should also not be confused with the employee experience. Employee engagement measures the level of commitment employees have toward their employers. Employee experience refers to the journey of an employee from the pre-hire stage to retirement.


why is employee engagement important for your company?

Your workforce is one of your most valuable and expensive investments. Workers are often the first to connect with your customers or directly contribute to the quality of your goods or services. It only makes sense to want employees who are invested in the company.

Employee engagement has the power to drive positive employee actions and deliver improved business outcomes. When employees are engaged and committed to their employees, it results in a win-win for both employers and employees. When engagement is low or non-existent, it can have the opposite effect. It can reduce workplace morale, lower productivity and increase costs.

According to a recent study, businesses with high levels of employee engagement achieve better business outcomes, such as:

  • 18% increase in productivity
  • 81% decrease in absenteeism
  • Up to 41% lower turnover rates
  • 64% fewer safety accidents
  • 10% jump in customer loyalty

These aren’t the only advantages of building a culture of engagement. There are several other benefits of employee engagement, including those summarized below.

building long-term retention

Studies show that 40% of workers around the globe are actively seeking to change jobs. This is discouraging as any amount of your workforce leaving can be costly and disruptive. One of the best ways to combat this potential loss is to boost employee engagement levels in the workplace. Engaged employees—those committed to the company’s goals and mission—are more likely to remain with the company longer.

strengthening employer brand

Employees, both current and former, have more power to share information about their employer than ever before. Employer review sites give workers a space to share their work experiences. Many job seekers turn to these sites when deciding whether to apply for a job or not. And, according to a recent study, more than 50% of these job seekers wouldn’t apply to companies with negative online reviews.

Just one bad online review can lower your talent pool and cause you to lose some of the most qualified candidates. High levels of employee engagement in the workplace can help your organization reduce the risk of bad reviews and strengthen its employer brand. Engaged employees are also committed to the company’s success and are more likely to leave positive online reviews, even after leaving for another position.

an image of a group conversation in a boardroom
an image of a group conversation in a boardroom

creating a resilient workforce

If the workplace disruptions of the last few years have taught employers anything, it’s the need to create a resilient workforce. Engaged employees feel a commitment to their employers and the success of the business. They are also loyal to their employers and often willing to go the extra mile to ensure quality. These traits are critical when building a workforce that can navigate both good and bad times.

maintaining a competitive advantage

Looking at the combined benefits of engaged employees, it’s easy to see how improving engagement in the workplace can give you a competitive advantage. Studies show that organizations that prioritize engagement in the workplace are 23% more profitable than companies that don’t.


how to measure employee engagement

Considering the value that workforce engagement can bring to your company, it’s important to track, measure and foster engagement in the workplace. Understanding employee engagement levels in your organization allows you to compare your performance to industry standards and gauge the success of any future engagement strategy.

You can break engaged employees into four basic categories, including:

  • High-level engagement: These employees are fully engaged in the workplace. They often turn into loyal brand advocates for the organization.
  • Moderate-level engagement: These employees are mostly engaged in the workplace, yet there is some reason they lack full engagement. While these employees typically perform well on the job, they can also be easily persuaded to change jobs to advance their careers.
  • Low-level engagement: Employees with low levels of engagement are at extreme risk of leaving their current employer for other job opportunities. These workers often lack motivation in the workplace and can underperform in their roles.
  • Disengagement: Disengaged employees can wreak havoc in the workplace. They often have a negative perception of their employer and underperform, which can have a negative impact on their co-workers.

Understanding which categories your employees fall into is key to measuring employee engagement in your organization. There are several strategies your organization can use to measure the level of engagement in the workplace.

conduct an employee engagement survey

Employers use workplace surveys to gather employee feedback regarding everything from desired perks to holiday party ideas. Employee engagement surveys offer a quick and easy method for collecting information on various topics. However, it’s vital not to overwhelm your workers with too many surveys. Doing so can overwhelm your workers and possibly diminish the accuracy of the results.

Failure to act on survey feedback can pose another challenge. For example, if your employees express concerns about the lack of career growth within the company and you fail to take action on this feedback, it could actually lower engagement. If you conduct employee engagement surveys, make sure you have an action plan in place to address any feedback.

two men talking in the office with a woman in the background chatting with her coworker
two men talking in the office with a woman in the background chatting with her coworker

hold one-on-one interviews

Exit interviews can help you understand if your employees are leaving due to disengagement in the workplace. However, you don’t want to wait until you lose your employees to realize there’s a problem. Instead, ask your managers to conduct one-on-one interviews periodically as a tool for measuring employee engagement. Workers may be more willing to share their feelings about your organization in a smaller setting.

As with surveys, you want an action plan in place for addressing employee feedback before conducting interviews. Additionally, you never want to measure workplace engagement based solely on these interviews. These results are based on managers’ opinions and can be skewed based on conscious and unconscious biases.

calculate eNPS

Employer Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a tool many employers use to measure job satisfaction. It asks employees to rate how likely they are to recommend the employer to other job seekers and why. This score can help your organization gauge loyalty among workers, which is a key component of employee engagement.

use additional employee engagement metrics

While the eNPS score is a critical tool for measuring employee engagement, it doesn’t show the full picture regarding engagement in the workplace. It’s important to track other vital employee engagement metrics, including:

  • employee retention rates
  • absenteeism rates
  • employee satisfaction rates
  • customer satisfaction rates
  • professional development outcomes
  • workforce productivity rates
  • employee wellbeing outcomes

key factors that impact employee engagement

Before creating a business strategy for boosting workforce engagement, you must first understand the key drivers of employee engagement. Below is a look at the top factors impacting employee engagement.

sense of belonging

According to our 2023 Workmonitor, 54% of workers state that they would quit their job if they didn’t feel a sense of belonging. These results clearly show that your workers want to make a difference. They want to know that they bring value to the company. This is good news for employers because it shows signs that employees want to be loyal to their employers.  

trust in employer

A recent MIT study shows that employees who trust their employers are more motivated at work, have lower absenteeism rates and are more likely to remain with the company. Unfortunately, only 25% of employees claim to fully trust their employers.

strong leadership

High levels of employee engagement require strong leadership. Today’s employees want leaders who can clearly communicate company goals, objectives and job expectations. Without clarity and strong communication, boosting employee engagement in the workplace can be next to impossible.

positive employee experience

As explained above, the employee experience pertains to the journey an employee takes from the application phase until termination. Your workers will remember how they felt at each stage of their journey. So, creating a positive experience as your workers move through the employee journey can help build engagement in the workplace. McKinsey & Company found that over half of an employee’s engagement is caused by nonfinancial recognition and employee experience. 

right tools and training 

Workers from all industries can become frustrated when they lack the resources and training to do their best in the workplace. For example, a study reveals that 91% of employees are frustrated with technology at work. Either it’s out-of-date or they lack the training to use it efficiently. It’s critical that your workers have the tools they need to perform well.

frequent employee recognition

Every employee wants to receive appreciation for a job well done. Unfortunately, only one in four workers believe they receive the employee recognition they deserve.

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what impacts employee engagement?

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the role of managers in enhancing employee engagement

A recent study shows that 50% of workers who changed jobs claim they left their jobs due to a bad manager. This is an incredibly high number that you can’t ignore. The first step is to develop a process to identify toxic managers in the workplace. These are the managers that are driving your workers away and damaging your efforts to boost employee engagement.

Not all managers who foster disengagement in the workplace are toxic and need to be replaced. In many cases, managers don’t understand the impact of employee engagement on business outcomes or how to boost engagement in the workplace. 

If you want to improve employee engagement in your organization, you must provide your managers with adequate training. Learning tips for how to connect with workers and other ways to improve employee engagement can help your managers change negative behaviors and become better leaders.

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how managers impact employee engagement

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strategies to improve employee engagement

Despite numerous studies highlighting the advantages of employee engagement, the latest Gallup poll shows only 21% of workers across the globe are engaged in the workplace. Furthermore, 18% of workers admit they are actively disengaged at work.

When nearly one in five workers feel disengaged in the workplace, there is clearly still work to do. As an employer, there are several actionable steps to improve employee engagement at your organization.

create an effective communication plan

Communication is a key component of employee engagement. It’s important to develop a communication strategy that offers transparency. While you may not be able to provide workers with all company details, frequently sharing information about company goals and objectives can help foster engagement. Remember that communication goes both ways. So, you also need to develop a process for collecting and responding to employee feedback.

provide workers with the necessary tools

To maximize your investment in human capital, it’s critical to ensure your employees have the tools, resources and training to perform their job duties. Your employees want to perform well on the job, but without the right tools, they can quickly become frustrated and disengaged. Having the right tools can boost both job satisfaction and engagement. For example, a recent study shows that 48% of employees believe that having the right tech tools and training makes them more productive, and 35% believe technology gives them more flexibility in the workplace.

develop a clear employee development strategy

Career growth is important to your employees and should be just as important to your organization. If your company has not done so already, now is the time to develop a clear employee development strategy. Be sure to create a personal development program that is fair, transparent and available to workers at all levels within the company. This can improve workplace engagement, retention rates and worker motivation.

prioritize employee recognition

With 40% of workers around the globe seeking new job opportunities, your organization must prioritize employee recognition. Employees who are undervalued in the workplace are often disengaged. Employee recognition should start from the top down and involve more than just annual performance reviews. For recognition to boost employee engagement and entice your workers to stay, it must be frequent, meaningful and include all workers.

offer flexibility in the workplace

According to our 2023 Randstad Workmonitor, 48% of workers would quit if their job prevented them from enjoying their lives. Flexibility in the workplace is no longer a nice benefit to offer but an expectation of many employees. Workplace flexibility could mean offering remote or hybrid work options or giving workers additional time off to take care of personal matters. If your industry limits flexibility in the workplace, consider alternative options, such as shift swaps or allowing workers to choose which days they work.

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best practices for improving employee engagement

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how randstad can help you improve your employee engagement

With over 60 years of experience partnering with companies to acquire and retain top talent, we have an in-depth understanding of employee engagement, its advantages and strategies to foster it. For example, our Workmonitor and Employer Brand Research showcase the evolving needs of the global workforce providing you the insights to develop effective employee engagement strategies.

Another initiative is our Customer Delight program which empowers us to gain deeper insights into employers' requirements and job seekers' aspirations, interests, and preferences. By employing this approach, we are able to deliver superior matches between employers and jobseekers, resulting in increased retention rates and enhanced job satisfaction.

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how Randstad can help improve your employee engagement

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