There is a widespread misconception that employee engagement and employee satisfaction are one and the same. In this article we will look at the factors affecting employee engagement.
Gartner found that of the companies doing employee surveys, over half (52.3%) are measuring “employee satisfaction or happiness,” while only 15.8% are measuring “employee engagement.” These findings shine a light on the fact that many business leaders still believe investing in employee “satisfaction” is a lucrative path toward business success.
A satisfied employees aren't necessarily an engaged employees. Picture an employee leaning back in their chair. Now, picture an employee leaning forward in their chair. An engaged employee leans in, putting their full heart and mind into their work. (While the employee who is merely satisfied or “happy” may be kicked back, doing the bare minimum to remain employed.) This also might have to do with company culture.
Consider the office building metaphor. If you lay an uneven foundation or crooked frame, the building will never be structurally sound. The same can be said for a people strategy built upon a survey that doesn’t measure the right things — it puts your strategy and your workforce on unsteady ground to effectively measure what affects employee engagement and your plan to improve employee engagement.
Getting employees to take a survey is one thing, but what’s the point if no action is taken on their feedback?
Failing to act on insights from employee feedback can break down trust and prevent employees from giving their honest input in the future.
In the Gartner study, more than 27% of employees don’t feel their leadership acts on the feedback they provide in surveys. (For those that have been with their company for 10 or more years, that number jumps to 38%.) Research also shows that surveying employee and not acting on the feedback is more harmful to an organization than not surveying employees to begin with.
Sometimes, the disconnect between employee surveys and action is simply a failure by leaders to effectively communicate the work they are doing. Communicating the why (as well as the who, what, when, and how) around actions is critical. Unfortunately, many leaders truly aren’t acting on employee survey data. Why? Often because they have no way of knowing the most valuable areas of focus — or even where to begin.
A striking finding in Gartner’s study is how infrequently people managers are meeting with their direct reports one-on-one.
A surprising 35.3% of employees report meeting one-on-one with their manager only once a month or less (that number jumps to 50.3% of employees at large companies of 5,000+ people).
More striking still, 12.2% of employees say they almost never meet with their manager one-on-one.
Particularly in larger companies with more management layers, it’s essential to focus on building strong working relationships between employees and their managers. Autonomy (not micro- management), along with weekly check-ins, allows managers to remove blockers for their employees and provide support where needed.
The employee-manager relationship is a key driver of employee engagement and is critical to retaining talent.
The World Health Organization1 refers to burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Symptoms include feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or negative feelings towards one’s career, and reduced professional productivity.
In Gartner’s study, a startling 62.2% of people report experiencing burnout at work. Of those employees, 32.3% experience burnout weekly, and 20.6% experience it daily.
That means more than half of your employees today may have negative feelings toward their job or be less productive because of burnout.
Where does employee burnout come from? There are many factors that come into play, and they’ll differ from person to person, but one major contributor occurs when an employee’s workload is beyond their capacity. Capacity is another key driver of employee engagement and is at risk when an employee feels unable to meet goals or expectations. When this happens, an employee can become disengaged, and eventually, burned out.
We’ve discussed some employee engagement drivers and risk factors for disengagement.
But what happens after an employee becomes disengaged? In most cases, they’re not only less productive but may also be considering or actively looking for new opportunities.
The Garner research found that nearly 73% of employees are “currently open” to a new career opportunity, and 33.1% are “actively looking” for a new job.
Even long-tenured employees are a turnover risk: 63% who’ve been at their current employer for 10 or more years are open to a new opportunity. And that new rockstar employee you just recruited? They’re an even higher turnover risk:
77% of people who have been at their current employer for less than a year are open to a new opportunity, and 44% are already actively looking.
Let’s do some quick math...
According to research by Employee Benefit News, it costs employers approximately 33% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them. That’s $15,000 for an employee earning a median salary of $45,000 a year. So, if you have 500 employees making $45,000 and 165 of them find a new job this year, that will set you back nearly $2.5 million.
So, now that we know the cost of inadequate unengaged employees, how do we address it. Based on the Gartner research, the key drivers in employee engagement include take action on employee feedback; more interaction between managers and their direct reports; and create a positive employee experience. The right employee experience will eventually result is more job satisfaction and employee productivity.
Intellective’s Employee Experience is an application that sits on top of ServiceNow that can allow you to digitally transform your employee experience and engagement for the better in as little as ten (10) weeks. The application allows organizations to take information from across the organization and deliver it to team members, so they have everything they need to do their job in one portal. The Employee Experience Pack also makes it easy on managers and their direct reports to communicate efficiently and effectively.
The application allows you to solicit employee feedback, prioritize it, assign action items, and track progress.