Employee engagement, what is it and why should leaders be so concerned with it?
Schmidt and Hayes (2002) define employee engagement as ‘the individual’s involvement and satisfaction with as well as enthusiasm for work’. But is that all it is? How involved and how enthusiastic someone is about work? Or is it much more than this?
We at Whyy? Change prefer the slightly older but much more well-rounded definition offered up by Leiter and Maslach (1998). They view engagement as the opposite pole of burnout. They define employee engagement as ‘an energetic experience of involvement with personally fulfilling activities that enhance a staff member’s sense of professional efficacy’. The key words there are fulfilling and efficacy. Employees who are engaged have a pride in what they do that comes from being not only heavily involved in meaningful aspects of a business but being able to see results for their efforts whether that be through business outcomes or from being rewarded for the hard work they do.
By engaging employees you are helping to keep them motivated to work. The reason employee engagement is key comes more from the negative impacts a disenfranchised and de motivated workforce can have on the business. Not only are de motivated employees less productive, they are actively working against the business which causes issues for the rest of the workforce, causing a toxic culture.
Culture is something that takes time to create and is important to be nurtured within a business, this does not happen overnight and needs to be led by the top and owned by the whole business to ensure this culture is embodied in everything the business does, internally and externally. The culture is in the DNA.
When employees feel valued and motivated and want to drive the business forward, you will see results.