What is Employee Engagement?

As employers, we are always concerned about our employees. Not only aspects of their usefulness, like their productivity, professionalism and performance, but also aspects of their satisfaction in their job. Often, we offer gestures like title changes and extra vacation days to employees we value and want to keep. And while these actions may improve an employee’s level of satisfaction with their job, they don’t necessarily affect the employee’s engagement, significantly or at all. Employee engagement is basically the level of loyalty or commitment an employee has to your company, and this is different, and arguably more important, than employee happiness or satisfaction, because employee engagement is a much larger factor in that person deciding whether to remain at your company or search for new employment elsewhere.

Here’s Why it Matters:

If we look at the statistics, it seems like keeping employees and reducing turnover is integral to making a business as successful as it can be. Over 100,000 people quit their jobs every day, and it costs about 20% of that lost employee’s salary to replace them. Turnover is especially high in fields like healthcare, finance, insurance, and government jobs. Overall, US employers spend an estimated $1.1 billion a year on replacing employees who decided to leave. We have all seen the havoc employee turnover wreaks; you lose all the experiential value that lost employee had. Client relations may falter, projects may slow or become more complicated, employee morale may drop or the new hire may cause interpersonal issues on a team that was previously well established. Over 60% of employers agree it’s harder to keep an employee than to replace one, meanwhile, over a third of people who are currently employed are actively or casually searching for other job opportunities.

So, How Do We Increase Employee Engagement?

Here’s the thing about employee engagement: it has to be personal. Yes, it’s nice to give your entire office a pizza party, or to send everyone home an hour early because they’ve met their quotas for the day. And yes, it’s good business practice to give your highest performing employees raises or promotions. But these things are different than personalized gifts. A personalized gift from the uppers in a company shows the employee that they were thought about personally, as a respected human and not just a cog in the wheel. It makes them feel valued for their unique skills. The desire to be personally recognized is a universal human experience that doesn’t need explaining. We all love getting an unexpected gift and being told we did a great job today, or having a superior come to us and let us know that we made a difference in a project. These personalized interactions are integral to employee engagement, but we can take it a step further by creating personalized recognition that lasts pasts the short span of the personal interaction itself.

Everyone Loves Getting an Award

There are many events in an employee’s career that are easy to turn into special moments. What about a sales goal award? Or a plaque to commemorate a retirement? There are personalized glass sets you could give for things like being the person who clinched the deal with the client, or having supervised the company’s biggest project that year. Giving an employee a physical item with their name on it, whether or not it’s utilitarian, like a deluxe knife and board set, or simply made for display, like an engraved crystal plaque, small items like these can make a big difference in an employee’s engagement with their job. It can not only motivate them to work harder with each passing success, but it can also motivate them to stay at a company who gives them physical proof that they are thought of and valued as an individual.