Engaged employees help organisations thrive in the most difficult and competitive of situations. I know that from my own experience building Reward Gateway into a $220 million company – we could never have done that without the exceptionally engaged team we have. But how do engaged employees actually help? Why do they perform better? What is it that they do differently?
There is a lot of nonsense spoken about employee engagement and one of the things I hear regularly is that “employee engagement is all about discretionary effort“.
I think this is wrong largely because it’s an over-simplification of the story. I hear it most from people who think it’s a cheap way of getting an extra hour out of people at the end of the week. Or getting people to work longer hours. That’s bad.
Let’s be clear. Engaged employees do not just create value by working longer hours.
And also, employee engagement isn’t a cheap way of doing anything. Engaging a whole workforce takes time and real commitment. It is a journey, not an event – you can’t just switch it on and off.
You need a commitment to transparency and honesty with communications and you need to follow through at all levels of management and leadership. It’s a job that is never done. It’s a goal you will never quite reach.
But the great thing about choosing employee engagement, about choosing to invest in your people is that the more work you put into it the more you get out. So it’s not binary – it’s not on or off. And wherever you are, wherever you are starting from it doesn’t matter. As soon as you start working with your people as partners and treating them as critical stakeholders of your Organisation then you’ll start reaping rewards.
Investing to create more engaged employees is worth it because the reward is a huge competitive advantage.
Like I said, it’s so much more than unlocking discretionary effort.
Engaged employees create huge, tangible value for organisations. Organisations that invest in cultures and structures that create employee engagement thrive in even the most competitive of situations. They do this because engaged employees create value in three key ways:
1. Engaged employees make better decisions
because they understand more.
Engaged employees understand the direction their organisation is going in and they understand how they contribute to that journey. That’s important because they are able to apply their understanding to the decisions they make in their job on a daily basis.
2. Engaged employees are more productive
because they like or love what they are doing.
Employee engagement isn’t about working longer hours. It’s about engaging employees so that they are more focused, more productive and less distracted by escapism at work. As Confucius said “find a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”.
3. Engaged employees innovate more
because they want their organisation to succeed.
Innovation is personally expensive. You have to put yourself in the spotlight by suggesting an idea that may or may not work and that other people may or may not support. Innovation has the real risk of real failure (otherwise it is not innovative) and that has a personal cost – you make yourself vulnerable when you suggest or contribute to innovation. You only really do that when you are “invested” in the outcome and when you want your organisation to succeed. (To understand more on this seek out Brené Brown on innovation and its link with vulnerability).
Overall, engaged employees put long-term results for the organisation ahead of their own short-term needs. And they do this much more than disengaged ones.
In this super competitive world where everyone needs to be on their A game to compete, there’s never been a more important time to start investing in employee engagement.