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What does employee engagement actually mean?

What exactly do we mean when we say employee engagement? In the old days, we might have referred to it as job satisfaction; but that’s not a fair comparison. Dale Carnegie described it as “the emotional and functional commitment an employee has to his or her organization.”

Job satisfaction is something that an individual can have. Employee engagement has become a workplace management strategy. One designed to create an environment within which each and every employee can 'give of their best'.

The cynics amongst us will look upon 'engaged employees' as something alien. After all, who wants to work with a bunch of enthusiastic individuals who look forward to coming into work every day, feel inspired by their managers, make proactive contributions to the organization, associate with its values and are its staunchest advocates! Sounds awful, right?

Well, OK. No, it sounds pretty good, actually.

Remember, engagement is not just about a feel-good factor; there is a lot of evidence that points to it making very good business sense too. Engaged employees are more productive, less prone to absenteeism and contribute to increases in business revenue and customer satisfaction.

Just 30% of employees consider themselves fully engaged, with a similar number “disengaged” at the other end of the spectrum.

It is, perhaps, surprising that more organizations aren’t more successful at engaging employees. Just 30% of employees consider themselves fully engaged, with a similar number “disengaged” at the other end of the spectrum.

How can you tell the difference? Disengaged employees have adopted 9 to 5 as a mantra, they don’t take pride in what they do, only contribute when explicitly asked and see customer interaction as a burden rather than an opportunity.

By contrast, engaged employees are enthusiastic; they relish communication with both colleagues and customers, they feel empowered and are willing to 'go the extra mile'. No wonder companies with engaged employees outperform their disengaged contemporaries.

The question is, how do we encourage engagement?

Generally speaking, engagement comes from the right combination of process and practice. Encouraging employees to share knowledge simultaneously contributes to the corporate memory and lets them know that their contributions are valued. Allowing employees to self-serve knowledge enhances their sense of independence and provides them with the tools they need to be productive.

The link between employee engagement and customer success is a straightforward one. The more engaged your employees are, the better they are at communicating, the more positive they are in their interactions with customers and each other.

Put simply, engaged employees lead to engaging interactions. Happy employees make for happy customers.

Discover how Transversal’s cognitive solutions are connecting and empowering a more productive workforce.

Interested in learning more about how to foster knowledge in your organization? Read our four-part blog series on Knowledge Sharing:

  1. Part 1: How to foster knowledge sharing: use intrinsic motivations (or cats).
  2. Part 2: How to foster knowledge sharing: build it into jobs.
  3. Part 3: How to foster knowledge sharing: don't reward, but recognize.
  4. Part 4: How to foster knowledge sharing: remove barriers.

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