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Matt Tenney, Contributor

We know employee engagement is an important part of any organization’s success. We also know, thanks to those Gallup polls, that organizations are engaged in a constant struggle to improve engagement levels.

In fact, recent research indicates that the percentage of engaged workers in the U.S. declined in 2021—for the first year in more than a decade. This is a bad sign for business as usual but also a wake-up call for organizations that want future financial sustainability.

Sustainable organizations strive to create workplace environments where employees feel valued and are able to perform well. Having a high level of employee engagement is vital to any business trying to achieve these goals.

Employee engagement really makes a difference because it affects performance, productivity, profits, and is key for business sustainability. It also has a significant impact on employee well-being, how well employees are able to serve customers, and is essential for recruiting and retaining top talent. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the ways in which employee engagement really makes a difference in how successful your organization is.

Performance

Employees who are engaged perform well. Here’s why.

Engaged employees feel that their voices are heard and that their contributions are valued. Reports indicate that employees who feel heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

High-performance teams are made up of highly engaged employees who believe in the organization’s mission, believe the work they do is making an impact, and feel instrumental in the organization’s success. 

Engaged employees are able to connect the dots between their individual performance and the success of the company, making them more aware of how their performance directly impacts the performance of the organization as a whole.

When they are treated like valued members of the team whose feedback plays a pivotal role in decision-making and helping the organization realize its vision, high performance becomes the norm. 

Profitability

As we know, increased productivity leads to increased profitability. But how much more profitable are organizations with high engagement?

Organizations with high levels of employee engagement are 21% more profitable than organizations with low levels of engagement. As Business Leadership Today guest contributor John Spence recently discussed, engaged companies grow profits up to three times faster than their competitors. 

Companies that make employee engagement a goal and constantly work toward improving engagement levels will see higher profits than companies with lower engagement.

Sustainability

Though many leaders may not realize it, there’s an important link between engagement and sustainability

Employee sustainability is the current and future ability of workers to remain in the workforce and is determined by a healthy organizational culture that supports and values employees. A sustainable employee culture keeps employees engaged to the level needed to perform their jobs capably. 

Creating a work environment that values employees and motivates them to engage in the work they do is necessary for future employee sustainability. 

When employees stay loyal to an organization because they are engaged, you have a talented pool of candidates who are imprinted with your organization’s cultural DNA that you can coach and mentor for leadership positions well into the future. 

Well-Being

One of the leading drivers of employee engagement is whether or not employees feel their leaders care about and are invested in their well-being. 

So much turnover and absenteeism can be attributed to high levels of stress and anxiety. And this is actually a big deal for any company’s bottom line.

The American Institute of Stress has estimated that U.S. companies lose around $300 billion per year because of workplace stress. Engaged employees are not only less stressed out and absent less often, but they are also less prone to having accidents on the job.

Engagement is essential to employee health and well-being. When employees are healthier mentally and physically, they will miss less work due to illness, be happier in their roles, be more conscientious about their duties and tasks, and be more satisfied in their jobs, with less work-related stress. 

Customer Service

When employees are happier, your customers will be happier. Engaging employees in their work boosts their job satisfaction and overall happiness, which actually makes them better at serving clients.

A high level of employee engagement is essential for a healthy bottom line and long-term financial stability, but it can also lead to a variety of other positive outcomes that can benefit customers as well.

If your employees are not engaged with the work they do, they will not be satisfied with their jobs. If employees aren’t satisfied, customers won’t be either. 

When leaders utilize business strategies that foster trust with employees and demonstrate care for their well-being, it improves their engagement with the work they do and makes them better at serving customers.

In an environment of high employee engagement, exceptional customer service becomes the norm, but that’s not where the benefits end; an added bonus that comes along with high employee engagement is customer-focused innovation.

Recruitment & Retention

One of the biggest impacts high levels of employee engagement can make is on retention rates. 

When employees are engaged with their work, they are likely to feel more loyalty to the organization and more likely to stay in the job. Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the organization they work for.

It can also be a huge plus for recruitment efforts. High levels of engagement, with low turnover rates, can make your organization very appealing to job seekers who are looking for roles they find engaging and meaningful at organizations that are working toward a purpose they can identify with. 

When you have high levels of engagement, you will have high retention rates, and this will help your organization establish a reputation as a company with a positive culture and satisfied employees. 

Talented people will want to work for your organization. And that’s ultimately what you want as a forward-thinking leader—an organizational culture that engages and values employees, that makes them feel a sense of purpose and pride in the work they do, and that makes them want to perform at their best because they are just as dedicated to the mission as you are. 


Matt Tenney is an active CEO who aspires to create the best workplace culture in the world.  Matt is also the author of Serve To Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom, and The Mindfulness Edge: How to Rewire Your Brain for Leadership and Personal Excellence.  Matt is frequently invited to present keynote speeches at leadership conferences and meetings.  His TEDx Talk has been viewed over 1,000,000 times since January, 2020.

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