Of all the lessons the ImageX team has learned about how to succeed in business, none compare to the importance of employee engagement. Our loyal clients consistently rate our staff as one of the most important reasons that they keeping coming back. Tom Kezis, the senior account manager for RESolutionTECH, says he has “...been blown away not only by their expertise, but also their willingness to share it with us.” Likewise, our executive vice President, Brent Wilker, says “The feedback I hear most often from our clients is the responsiveness of our team is unparalleled; they feel like we are an extension of their organizations.”

Building a strong team has thus greatly enhanced the effectiveness and appeal of our services, contributing to our 4.9 rating on Clutch.

Given how important employee engagement is to us, we were shocked to learn just how few organizations have made it a priority. Seven out of 10 workers in the United States are not engaged with their jobs, and while 90 percent of company leaders want to adopt a strategy for greater engagement, only a quarter of firms have actually done so. The problem is likely one of practical understanding: while most businesses know in the abstract that it is important to have engaged employees, they don’t realize the real, tangible effects that engagement has.

The Critical Impact of Employee Engagement
The single most important effect that employee engagement can have is to lower turnover. Employees who are engaged are 87 percent less likely to seek work at another company. This means that the employer will not have to pay the many costs to replace them. The cost of replacing an employee may include:

  • Unused time off. Employees who quit their jobs often have paid time off that they have not yet taken, and depending on their contracts, a business may have to compensate them for this. A single week of paid time off can cost upwards of $1,500.
  • Recruiter fees. Recruiter fees can typically equate to ⅕ of the salary of the outgoing employee. For example, if that employee was making $50,000 a year, that means you will have to pay at least $10,000 just to find their replacement.
  • Salary differences. New employees will typically demand a salary that is roughly 20 percent higher than if they had been promoted from within the organization.
  • Lost productivity. While you are trying to replace an employee, your existing staff will have to cover for the person. This will distract them from their own jobs, thereby lowering their productivity. Productivity may remain low even after you find a replacement, as the new employee will need time to adjust to the duties and responsibilities.

Even if employees do not leave, low engagement can still cost your company in a myriad of ways. Workers who do not feel connected to their jobs are less likely to communicate effectively with other employees, leading to more mistakes, more conflict, and poorer coordination. They are also unlikely to invest their creative faculties in their jobs; while their work may be adequate, it won’t help your company to stand out. It is little wonder that companies with engaged employees make 2.5 times more revenue than their less engaged counterparts do? Boosting engagement has a direct, and dramatic impact on your bottom line, increasing your chances for success on multiple fronts.

Surveying Your Way to More Engaged Employees
Beyond simply underestimating its importance, one of the most common mistakes companies make about engagement is assuming they can raise it by paying more. About 89 percent of employers think that workers who leave do so because they want more money, yet only 12 percent of departing employees are actually concerned with their salaries. The problem is far more likely to be the broader organizational culture. People want to work for companies that challenge them, recognize their contributions, and give them opportunities for growth. A job that doesn’t provide such an enriching experience will never be engaging, no matter how much money it pays.

The first step to putting an enriching culture in place is simply to seek employees’ opinions on the subject. Firms must create a system for workers to submit complaints and suggestions for improvement and must guarantee that no one will be punished for criticizing current practices. Ideally, a company should actively encourage its employees to submit constructive criticism by rewarding those who come forward. The more that workers feel encouraged to share their experiences and suggestions, the more information management will have about how engaged the staff is. Only after gathering such information will they be able to make improvements.

More Effective Managers and Other Engagement Essentials
While the specific suggestions that employees make vary by company, certain themes tend to crop up. One is the desire for more supportive and responsive leadership. Those in management positions must set clear expectations for their subordinates, recognize all who meet those expectations, and reward those who exceed them. They must also provide support for employees who are struggling to meet their expectations; this may involve helping them to learn new skills or obtain new resources. Above all, managers must model positive behaviors for their subordinates. Even if your managers have a good track record on these matters, it still pays to re-evaluate them from time to time and make sure they’re providing support and guidance.

Besides fostering better management practices, you can enhance employee engagement by:

  • Building a team. If team building exercises are a cliche, it’s only because they work so well — at least when done right. Ideally, these exercises should give your employees a chance to work together on a challenging, but concrete and achievable goal. One strategy is to do volunteer work together, as this shows your staff that they can make a positive difference in their community, but need each other to do so. Physical activities that combine fun with exercise can also be valuable, provided that all of your employees are capable of participating.
  • Cultivating communication. Employees are more likely to feel engaged with each other and with their jobs if they know how to communicate clearly. This means encouraging them to use whatever form of communication they prefer. If one of your workers wants to discuss work matters by text or social media, then as long as doing so doesn’t compromise information security (http://imagexmedia.com/blog/2017/05/understanding-...), go along with it and encourage others to do the same.
  • Fostering Friendships. The more that employees see each other as friends, the more likely they are to avoid conflict, communicate clearly, and go out of their way to help one another. Given that it is the manager’s job to model good behavior, you should take the lead by inviting employees to hang out at your house or in informal settings.
  • Ensuring empathy. Whether an employee has misunderstood your instructions, has messed up an assignment, or simply appears to be struggling, it is essential to show support and empathy. Not only does this demonstrate that you care for your employees, but it makes them more likely to seek help if their struggles are due to an underlying emotional or psychological issue.

While supporting your staff in all these ways may seem daunting, the more of an effort you make, the easier it is to ensure their success and well-being. ImageX has a long history of fostering employee engagement, and we are happy to share what we have learned. For more information on these and other secrets to a successful business, visit our website today.

Main photo credit: Photo by Joe Pizzio on Unsplash