The need for understanding employee engagement

There is a strong correlation between employee engagement, performance and the company results.

Today, companies are facing new post-pandemic challenges. Think of The Great Resignation and ‘quiet quitting’.
These terms explain why 39% of employees declare themselves disengaged at work.

Therefore it’s no surprise that employee engagement has become a key issue for organizations in the wake of the pandemic. It is a key element for the sustainability of the company and its ability to create value. It refers to the extent to which employees are involved in their organization’s activities in order to contribute to the achievement of its objectives. Both through their actions and their attitude.

In this article, we will examine the different ways in which employee engagement contributes to business success. We’ll also explore the implications for teams and leaders. Finally, we will present some recommendations for improving employee engagement in your organization.

Why would you need to develop employee engagement?

Employee engagement strengthens the links between your teams and your current and future customers. 

They can propose adapted, innovative, and well-executed solutions thanks to their good understanding of customer needs. The same is true for business processes. Being in direct contact with the field and customers offers a wealth of knowledge that will make your company more efficient, innovative, and attractive. But only if you can identify, evaluate and share this information collectively. 

Often, before finding solutions, it is necessary to be able to detect bottlenecks and problems, and this requires the deployment of a centralized idea exchange space. Employee engagement contributes to the continuous transformation of the organization, not only by creating new products and services but also to improve business processes.

How do you measure employee engagement?

Instinctively, one might think that an engaged employee is one who spends a lot of time in the office.

Yet, that is not entirely true. The Engagement Observatory with the OpinionWay Institute asked more than a thousand local managers what their indicators were for recognizing engaged employees. “Working overtime” only came in last place, with 18%, among the indicators of commitment (18%). One thing is clear from this study: the three most important indicators are related to human qualities. Managers recognize an engaged employee by their initiative taking (54%), their constructive mindset (50%) and their desire to do well (47%).

These are all soft skills that cause employees to mobilize for their company through their abilities and skills. By relying on this, companies convert employee loyalty into efficiency. A win-win strategy.

Why is employee engagement so important in a talent management strategy?

Today, the balance of power in the labor market has changed. In a hyper-competitive context, the famous war for talent, it is now in favor of the employee. It is therefore essential to retain the employees who make a difference. For example those who create value today and those who will carry out the transformation to enable the company to continue to prosper. Let’s cover three main areas to focus on.
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1. Cx / NPS

In a context where ensuring an optimal customer experience (Cx) is imperative, entrusting the management of this experience to committed teams is a strategic choice. Knowing how to value, measure and share each person's commitment feeds the recommendation of the company by its employees (eNPS).

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2. Productivity as a result of employee engagement

Let's share some numbers. An engaged employee is 31% more productive, 6x less absent and 55% more creative. This really shows us how crucial it is to have the tools to foster this commitment. Especially by creating a space to express ideas, but also problems! By creating such a space you will be able to collectively find solutions. 

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3. Retaining talent

Beyond improving operational efficiency, developing an employee engagement strategy is a lever for retention, while :
- the departure of an employee costs approximately 15,000 euros
- the most contributing employees are often the most sought after.

Their departure is both an obstacle to growth and an asset given to your competitor.

What are your recommendations for improving employee engagement?

At Agorize, we have worked with many companies on employee engagement challenges. From these experiences, we have identified 3 main pillars to effectively engage your teams:

1. Create an attractive employer brand. 

To do this, clearly define your brand’s mission and vision. According to Deloitte, companies with a mission see 30% higher levels of innovation and employee retention. They also tend to be first or second in their market segment.

And if you offer a mission and purpose beyond “just” financial performance, you will attract passionate people who want to make a meaningful contribution. Mission and brand vision are linked to 2 factors:

  • The rational factor: your company’s strategy, offering
  • The emotional factor: company culture, values, common goals

Take the time to question the values of two audiences. The value that appeals to the general public in relation to your industry. But also those that speak to all your stakeholders: employees, investors, suppliers, and customers.

Unite and mobilize your teams around strong, shared commitments such as those of the United Nation’s SDGs. Focus on commitments that serve your brand, your culture, and your processes. As Generation Z enters the job market, issues such as sustainable development, diversity, and inclusion, or the responsibility of your business towards society, must be integrated without question. To ignore this is to risk seeing talent disregard your job offers.

2. Make your managers the ambassadors of your HR strategy

Having a clear and precise vision of the roles of each person is essential in engaging your employees. To do this, you need to rely on the leaders in your workforce. Define the roles of each person: managers, intermediaries, and consultants. The more the management team is committed to this, the more effective the organization becomes.

The first step is to clearly define roles:

  • What does talent really mean in your corporate culture?
  • What is a “leader”?
  • How do you recognize an innovator, even a potential one?

Every manager, director, or person who has an influence on the motivation and performance of your teams must be an inspiration. As an accurate reference model, it is the embodiment of your investment in human capital. Leave no room for improvisation: guide your managers!


3. Create a centralized idea exchange environment, oriented toward continuous improvement

The role of tools should not be overlooked in your employee engagement strategy. With an idea management platform, you give everyone a voice and you convey a culture of innovation within the company. A digital idea box solution has become a lever for employee mobilization. Beyond contributions to operational efficiency, using innovation as a lever for talent management serves the entire organization. 

Over the years, the Agorize platform has become a tool for employee engagement through a structured approach to continuous improvement. This is appreciated by both business teams and support functions such as Human Resources. In the era of “quiet quitting”, the use (or lack) of this type of platform can also signal the level of team commitment.

Let’s quote another significant number from the Qualtrics Global Trends 2020 Report. “Employees whose employers turn suggestions into actions are twice as engaged as those whose employers don’t use feedback properly.

Intrapreneurship, which involves developing a so-called startup within your company, is also an effective tool for engaging your talent. Conducted through an open innovation program on a dedicated platform, the intrapreneurship approach unites employees around the company’s challenges and ambitions. It also stimulates and de-silos collaborations and promotes the emergence of realistic and achievable projects. Such programs bring together stakeholders within and beyond the company, in order to adopt a common vision of its ecosystem. According to an Allianz France and Ifop study, nearly 67% of students say that companies with an intrapreneurship program attract more attention.

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An intrapreneurship example

A great example of intrapreneurship is PepsiCo. The PepsiCo group has been organizing its internal program, The Next Big Idea, for several years. The launch of the Driftwell drink on the American market is a pure product of open innovation. PepsiCo has thus captured a market valued at 1 billion euros. The development of this product took just 9 months, instead of the usual  24. That is a time-to-market two and a half times faster than what they’re used to! In addition to the innovation itself, employees unanimously expressed their appreciation of the experience and more than two-thirds of the teams recognized that this system had a positive impact on the way they work. 

Read the full PepsiCo case study here.

On one hand the organization gives a vision on how it wants to embody its values. On the other hand, employees are more involved in making that vision a reality with their projects, with participation rates in these programs turning out consistently high.

5 concrete routines to test in your organization to boost talent engagement

1. Define key objectives and shared OKRs

With the help of middle management, define SMART, cross-functional and short-term objectives that are understood by all. Unite all your teams around quickly achievable and attainable goals that give them the motivation to carry out the brand mission. Also communicate about fast progress by rewarding successful initiatives.

2. Motivate your teams, recognize their contribution

Value creation is a key success factor for a company, your best contributors must be role models for all.
Motivate your employees to become more skilled. Make each employee a promoter of your culture, even a potential brand evangelist. Inspire other employees through recognizing and rewarding the most successful and proactive ones among them.

Employees who feel empowered and respected in the workplace are more motivated and productive. This can create a virtuous circle of positive work culture. It will allow each employee to understand their importance while encouraging other talent to join your organization. For example through employee referral (eNPS).

"The innovation process is simplified, transparent and dynamic, thanks to a unique, user-friendly and powerful tool. Also, the collective co-construction model enabled by the platform supports a strong message to our teams and our customers."

3. Focus your work teams

“If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.” Jeff Bezos cleverly pointed out his view on team sizes. Reducing the size of your team allows each member to increase the impact of their decisions, to be heard by the group and to be proactive. Each member will have more responsibility and feel more invested in the project while cultivating strong ties with their collaborators.

4. Make your organization a source of daily learning

The company is a place of personal and professional development for more and more employees. If your organization allows employees to develop natural abilities and gain skills, then it provides them with meaning and engagement in their work.

According to Deloitte, organizations with a strong learning culture are:

  • 92% more likely to develop new products and processes
  • 52% more productive
  • 56% more likely to be first to market with their products and services
  • 17% more profitable than their peers
  • Their engagement and retention rates are also 30-50% higher

5. Communicate and build bridges between teams

The meaning your employees give to their work also depends on the awareness that what they do is useful for other people. Encouraging cross-functional communication strengthens team cohesion and brings employees closer together. Moreover, it is when two minds that have nothing in common meet, that everyone can step out of their comfort zone. Then, they’ll become aware of external needs and opportunities and respond with a fresh view on things. Also, encourage middle managers to share their best practices with each other, you might be surprised.

Our tip is to start the week with a scrum. On Monday morning, take 30 minutes to share current issues by a member of each department. Give the floor to each team, even for three minutes, to reinforce the notion of responsibility within the team.

Reconsider your employee engagement strategy

If there’s one thing you should take from this article, let it be this. The impact of employee engagement on your business is incredibly diverse and undeniably important. It impacts not only your ability to attract and retain talent. Engaged employees create a corporate culture that is more productive and innovative. Moreover, ignoring employee engagement might cause you to miss out on value adding solutions, product and optimization.

Consider your efforts to boost employee engagement. There are plenty of tools that can help you become a company that is built to last.

Engage your teams in a continuous innovation dynamic.