5 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

Dustin Staiger

Workplace Engagement, according to The Roesler Group, is “the heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work.” In other words, an engaged employee is one who feels connected to their work and therefore performs better. This is what every business leader wants to cultivate.

But according to Jim Keane, CEO of Steelcase, “The reality is there aren’t as many highly engaged workers as organizations need.” Those were Keane’s words in the final executive summary of Steelcase’s Engagement and the Global Workplace Report. 

The study was conducted across 17 countries with 12,480 participants in order to discover how engaged employees feel in their workplace and how that translates to company performance. 

According to Keane, disengaged office workers outnumber those who feel engaged, “which has a direct impact on the bottom line.” If you’re an executive looking to improve your bottom line, below are five findings about employee engagement that are most relevant to business leaders today.

Finding #1: Engaged Employees Tend to Love Their Jobs More

Only 13% of global workers are highly engaged and satisfied with their workplace. These 13% are also the same group to whom most of the hard work is entrusted. Additionally, since workplace dissatisfaction causes so many to disengage, the small group of highly engaged workers work harder to carry the load.

Disengaged Employees have a direct result on your company’s bottom line.

The question posed by this first finding can be somewhat disturbing for the executive investing in his or her best employees. “With such a small number of people doing the heavy lifting at work, could disengaged counterparts in effect cancel out their efforts?” If that is the case, your workplace environment is playing a much bigger role in your bottom line than you may have assumed.

The good news from this finding is the correlation between workplace satisfaction and the level of engagement. Employees who are happy with their workplace work tend to work harder and enjoy their work more. 

Finding #2: Engaged Employees Take Ownership of Their Responsibilities

12,480 workers from 17 of the world’s most powerful economies were asked if they were allowed to choose where to work within their offices based on the task they were doing. Employees who were afforded the most workplace flexibility were also those who were most engaged in their company culture.

What this underscores for today’s executives is the need to create a range of spaces in the workplace. Groups, individuals, mobile and resident workers all need options in spaces for their specific type of work. After policies were made to allow employees choices about where they go for each task, engagement rose from 14% to 88%. In other words, arm your employees with flexibility in their workplace, and the reward can be six-fold. 

Finding #3: Office Layouts Share Blame for Poorly Engaged Employees

Employees who are given the freedom to work with mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops become more engaged in their workplace. Twice as many employees are provided fixed technology as those who are equipped with mobile devices. This results in less collaboration and therefore less engagement between colleagues.

While annual reviews are conducted with good intentions, they are clearly not enough. A 2013 survey of 6,000 human resources professionals found that only 2% of employers provide their employees with feedback. By creating a mobile friendly environment in the workplace, executives enable themselves to provide better feedback to employees in real time. This improves the communication between executives and their employees, thereby starting to tip the scale of workplace satisfaction and engagement from that pitiful 13%.

Finding #4: Traditional Work Styles Persist

Over 60% of employees still work in either individual or shared private offices. The lack of mobile technology and collaborative spaces turns workplace engagement into an extracurricular activity. Instead of driving the company forward, employee engagement is forced to take a backseat. 

Companies who armed employees with flexible workplaces saw engagement boost from 14% to 88%.

Between the two extremes of a completely open or completely closed office layout, neither end of the spectrum is the answer for any workplace. However, there is definitely a connection between poor employee engagement and closed layouts. Executives looking to grow their company should consider changes to their workplace if they want to improve employee engagement and performance.

Finding #5: Your Culture Plays A Role In Engaging Your Employees

The last finding discovered the importance of the culture within an office. An analysis of the data showed that “the country where an employee lives, its culture and resulting expectations have an impact on how highly engaged and satisfied they are with their workplace.”

In India, where office layouts tend to be more open, employees encountered the highest levels of engagement and satisfaction. On the other hand, nations where private layouts are the norm saw the lowest percentage of engagement and satisfaction.

Engaging with employees is not a mountain executives should climb alone. We have experts ready to share ideas and helpful practices for creating an engaging office where great work happens.