National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

The Importance of Employee Engagement…By the Numbers

Employee engagement is something that is talked about in company boardrooms and management meetings frequently. But if you are not taking implementing initiatives seriously, you may be cutting your company off from the best possible workers.

At a recent NationaLease meeting, one of our presenters was Thomas Walter, chief culture officer at Tasty Catering. This compelling speaker discussed the great importance of employee engagement to the health, productivity, and profitability of a company. He knows whereof he speaks since Tasty Catering has an enviable employee turnover rate of just 4 percent, something we would all love to boast about in our own companies.

This company has made a corporate-wide effort to make every employee feel important and engaged and it has paid off. Tasty Catering has won awards, recognizing it as a healthy workplace, a best place to work, and a top place to work. Knowing this and seeing how employee engagement initiatives really make a difference in, not only a company’s bottom line, but also in the attitude of employees throughout the organization, I started to look for other statistics.

In the summer of 2018, Gallup published a poll that showed that employee engagement in the U.S. had moved up to 34%. Notice I said, moved up. So what this shows is that, at the time of the poll, two-thirds of the country had little employee engagement. So what does that mean?

Here are the bad stats, according to an article in Forbes last year:

  • Disengagement is expensive…up to $550 million a year! – A joint study by The Conference Board, Sirota-Mercer, Deloitte, ROI, the Culture Works and Consulting LLP found that disengaged employees cost U.S. companies that troubling amount. What they also found is that employees can identify why they are dissatisfied and disengaged. Employers have to ask.
  • Burnout is a big problem for 61% of workers – A CareerBuilders survey found the stress that leads to burnout can create major health problems as well, including fatigue, weight gain, aches and pains. Then there are the mental health issues that employees don’t want to talk about, including depression and anxiety.

Now here are the good stats, according to that same article:

  • Higher engagement leads to 21 percent higher profitability – Gallup found that the increase in profitability was a healthy 21 percent. That was the conclusion based on the average of other impressive stats. Companies that focus on engagement and are in the top 20 percent of businesses that do so end up with a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism and 59 percent less turnover.
  • Making employees feel their voices are heard is essential – Inviting employees to play a part in decision-making and strategy makes those employees feel 4.6 times more likely to perform their best work, according to a Salesforce report. Feeling empowered makes employees they have a stake in the company’s success.

So what should employers implement to promote employee engagement and what will those initiatives produce?

  • Wellness programs affect employee lifestyle choices – Aflac found that 61 percent of employees say they have made healthier lifestyle choices due to the company wellness program. These programs are very important when trying to recruit Millennials.
  •  Engagement initiatives must have commitment from management and be ongoing – Willis Towers Watson published research that indicate that initiatives can’t be one-offs when it comes to wellness and health. Employees can spot the lack of employer dedication to the overall initiative a mile off. This needs to be a major part of a company’s culture. (Remember, I noted Thomas Walter at the beginning of this post as a chief culture officer. That’s company dedication).
  • Show flexibility on work-life balance – Younger workers place huge emphasis on this…a full 87 of employees of all ages expect that their employer will support this in balancing work and personal commitments. Glassdoor did a survey and found that offering flexible work schedules and encouraging employees to actually take their vacation time really mattered.

Here is the stat that should really encourage you to move your company forward on employee engagement issues, especially those dealing with wellness: “89 percent of workers at companies that support well-being initiatives are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work.”

Why is this so important? Because in a time of low employment, finding qualified workers and retaining them has never been more essential. Think it really doesn’t make a difference. A report by the American Psychological Association found that only 17 percent of employees would recommend their company as a good place to work if they perceive that leadership doesn’t care about their well-being. You can’t just say, “I care.” You have to show it.

Read Jane’s IdeaXchange blog on the experience of Tasty Catering and employee engagement.


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