Employee engagement

What is employee engagement?

What is employee engagement and why is it important? OpenBlend looks at the benefits of prioritising employee engagement as part of your performance management approach (and why it always pays to be people-centric!)

What is employee engagement?
9:48

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development’s (CIPD) Good Work Index survey, approximately two-thirds of UK employees are satisfied with their jobs overall – but only one in three feels energised daily, enthusiastic about the work they are doing, and a fifth of respondents said they were likely to quit their jobs in the next twelve months…

To prevent unsustainable levels of staff turnover, employers must pay close attention to employee engagement within their organisations, so we’ve put together this quick Q&A to help you understand what exactly this means, and how you can maximise it for the benefit of your business.  

The definition of ‘employee engagement’ has changed a lot over the last 30+ years. Employers started looking into ways of bonding employees to their companies at the start of the 1990s. Back then, the emphasis was placed wholly on the employees, and those who were involved, enthusiastic, and committed were classed as “engaged”.

The modern notion of employee engagement turns this on its head. Instead, it’s now about the emotional investment an employee makes into their work and “how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential.” This definition from David MacLeod makes it more the employer’s responsibility to foster an environment in which employees can flourish, thereby contributing to better levels of engagement. 

If we look at employee engagement from a business perspective, you can define it as the attitudes and approach of an organisation to make their employees feel more committed both to their work, their purpose at work, and to the organisation itself. 

Put simply, employee engagement is quite often considered to be the most basic concept used to recognise the nature of the relationship between employees and the employer.

Why is employee engagement important?

Employee engagement is important because employees who are more motivated perform better at work; are proven to devise more creative solutions to problems, be more customer-orientated, and take less time off sick.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), an estimated 185.6 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury in 2022, equivalent to 5.7 days per worker, and set the UK economy back by billions of pounds. Employers were also left out of pocket. Employee engagement is therefore crucial to maintaining your bottom line, driving business performance and providing a better service to your customers.

What impacts employee engagement?

Your approach to employee engagement is going to have the biggest impact on how it works out. For example, it is important to understand that a business-wide culture does not start at an organisational level. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to employee engagement, simply because everyone is motivated and driven by different things.

This is where OpenBlend comes in; our people-centric employee performance management software has been curated specifically to facilitate a people-first approach to driving performance and engagement amongst your workforce.

OpenBlend delivers insight into what really drives productivity, engagement and performance and how harnessing an employee's motivational drivers can make a difference to employee’s ability to perform at the top of their game. With a people analytics tool that identifies themes and patterns, it enables businesses to find out what’s going on across their organisation and develop effective people strategies to help minimise the impact of both internal and external change on business outcomes, employee engagement and performance.

What are the benefits of employee engagement?

Employees who are engaged at work are healthier, happier, and more motivated, which means high levels of employee engagement are great for employee wellbeing, too. They are also a key contributor to overall business performance.

A study conducted by Engage for Success, a voluntary movement sponsored by the CIPD to promote better employee engagement in the UK, shows a positive correlation between employee engagement and a number of other business metrics, including customer satisfaction, employee productivity, innovation, and employee retention and attrition.

High employee turnover is costly to businesses in terms of talent, time, and money, so if you can improve retention, your bottom line is going to get bigger. Increased work productivity thanks to greater employee engagement will work for you, your employees and your organisation.

Employee engagement strategies to focus on in 2024

As hybrid working models become increasingly prevalent, fueled by advancements in technology and evolving workplace norms, several notable trends have emerged, significantly influencing the contemporary work landscape.

Among the key HR trends of the last few years, the "Great Resignation" has garnered considerable attention. This phenomenon refers to a notable surge in voluntary resignations as employees reassess their priorities, seeking greater flexibility, fulfillment, and work-life balance.

Simultaneously, the concept of "Quiet Quitting" has also made its mark, representing a more subtle form of disengagement where employees disengage emotionally and mentally from their roles without formally resigning. These trends collectively underscore the changing dynamics of the modern workplace, highlighting the importance for organisations to adapt and innovate to attract, retain, and engage top talent in an increasingly competitive environment.

1) Start at the top

Optimum employee engagement relies upon a culture that invests in its managers. 

To boost current levels of engagement, managers need to be properly equipped to lead and manage. The most important thing is that they understand how to communicate effectively and 

2) Diversify your engagement initiatives.

As the words themselves might suggest, “Working from Home” has thrown the old concept of the work-life balance into complete disarray, because the two states are no longer separate. Don’t just focus on the “work” half of the work-life balance; employers that acknowledge the challenges presented by individual employee circumstances and put contingencies in place to help every team member will be rewarded by an increase in engagement.

This might involve implementing more flexible working hours to accommodate various schedules or fostering a culture where at-home interruptions are accepted and understood without judgment. By embracing a well-rounded approach to employee wellbeing and work-life balance, organisations can cultivate a more supportive and engaging work environment.

3) Set employee performance goals and targets. 

Employee performance goals and targets don’t have to be big, but regular 1:1 conversations between managers and their direct reports will help keep employees accountable and projects on track.

Encourage regular 1:1s to monitor progress. But if you know someone is struggling, the best thing you can do as a leader is to open the floor to open and honest discussion. 

4) Get employee input.

Get feedback from the people that make up your organisation.

One of the best ways to understand why and how employee engagement might be taking a hit is to regularly check-in with your teams to get feedback. Whether it's regarding how they're feeling in relation to a specific project or their workloads more broadly, or whether they have the right tools for the job.

Regular 1:1s between managers and their teams can help you keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to engagement levels.

5) Become people-centric.

By implementing a performance structure that places the individual at the heart of everything. People are the most valuable asset a business can have – and this needs to be reflected across any and all strategies to improve employee engagement.

How to build an engaged and motivated workforce with OpenBlend

OpenBlend’s unique approach to performance management improves employee engagement by promoting better 1:1 conversation between your managers and employees. Our performance management software uses a combination of employee motivation, regular 1:1 conversation and tools such as goals, develop, wellbeing and performance reviews to keep everyone on track.

If you want to see how OpenBlend can help increase employee engagement within your organisation, book a demo with us today. 

Browse the latest resources