How do you feel while getting ready for work in the morning? Are you excited to take on the day’s challenges, collaborate with your teammates, and contribute to important projects? Or do you feel uninspired and apathetic—maybe even a looming sense of dread or resentment as your mind starts shifting into work mode?
Chances are, your answer may differ day to day, and that’s OK. As with many things in life, the way people feel about their jobs is usually more nuanced than the polar extremes of “can’t wait to go in on Monday” and “can’t wait to get out of this place.”
Over time, however, the trends that emerge define how engaged any individual remains in their job, which makes a real impact on people’s workplace performance, whether consciously or subconsciously.
At scale, those individual feelings of commitment, purpose, and passion become your organization’s employee engagement levels—and by extension, your company culture. Regardless of industry, role, or company size, the benefits of employee engagement are impossible to ignore.
Why is employee engagement so important?
For the majority of organizations, employee engagement offers one of the greatest opportunities for internal improvement. Recent data from Gallup shows only 32% of employees consider themselves engaged in the workplace, and 17% of workers are actively disengaged at work.
Strong company cultures create more profitable and efficient organizations, where everyone understands their expectations, feels like they belong, and shares a commitment to common goals.
In one of the largest studies to date documenting the relationship between employee engagement and business performance, Gallup gathered data from 2.7 million employees and compared results from over 110,000 business units across 54 industries.
When comparing companies with top-quartile engagement versus companies with bottom-quartile engagement, they discovered organizations with highly engaged employees enjoyed 23% higher profitability with workers who were 66% more likely to report thriving in their jobs.
And while these high-level numbers are encouraging for any organization looking to prioritize their people, they don’t tell the whole story. Let’s take a look at some of the deeper benefits of employee engagement and how they can contribute to the overall success of any company.
Top 10 benefits of employee engagement
1. Improved collaboration between employees
It’s easier for anyone to stay motivated when they feel supported by their colleagues and like they’re part of a culture where people bring out the best in one another. Business thought leaders are recognizing the link between collaboration and employee engagement and embracing strategies to measure and improve both.
Collaborative work environments reduce the siloing that naturally occurs among teams with differing priorities and help everyone stay focused on the big picture. That shared sense of purpose is a major factor in perpetuating a culture of united and engaged teams. It’s also what enables talented employees to benefit from multiple perspectives, polish their ideas, and ultimately produce great work.
2. Lower costs due to employee turnover
Losing even an average employee is costly for any organization. Losing a top employee can be significantly more detrimental. According to Zippia, the average cost to replace an employee is six to nine months of that position’s salary. Additionally, data from Gallup shows organizations with high engagement have 18% less employee turnover in the first place.
When you account for the costs of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding, plus lost productivity, knowledge, or rapport with important customers, the benefits of employee engagement initiatives quickly begin to outweigh any upfront investment.
3. Better-informed leaders and managers
Leaders with data-driven insights into their people’s morale, motivation, and pain points gain important insights into many aspects of their organizations. Employee engagement surveys are useful for understanding what your employees are thinking but also for unearthing specific action items that will improve daily work life en route to more satisfied, more productive teams.
In the process of looking for ways to improve your company culture, it’s common to discover opportunities to improve your business operations at the same time. It could be by way of additional training, process refinements, or new software tools—but the important thing is you’re showing your workforce you value their ideas and feedback.
4. A more innovative workforce
When employees are aligned with your company’s mission and values, they’re more likely to embrace creative thinking en route to solving complex challenges. Research indicates a positive link between employee engagement and workplace innovation, suggesting that organizations with strong company cultures will be more likely to enable industry-defining breakthroughs.
Interestingly, the same academic study also suggests that employees are most engaged in demanding (but not unreasonable) workplace environments—provided they had sufficient resources to accomplish whatever was being asked of them. It’s yet another example of the interconnectedness of factors contributing to employee engagement and how taking a holistic view of the employee experience is essential for any people-first organization.
5. Fewer accidents and safety incidents
While it’s rare for anyone to intentionally make a critical error in the workplace, it’s one of those areas where employee engagement subconsciously—and substantially—affects outcomes. When people are checked out at work, they’re more likely to make mistakes that can lead to injury, liability, or even tragedy.
According to Gallup’s analysis of decades’ worth of workplace data, companies with top-quartile engagement deal with 64% fewer workplace accidents than those with bottom-quartile engagement. Trends were similar in the healthcare industry, with high-engagement workplaces experiencing 58% fewer patient-safety incidents.
6. Reduced absenteeism
In order for people to do outstanding work, they’ve got to show up to work in the first place. Whether it’s due to burnout, disengagement, or personal issues, employee absenteeism costs U.S. businesses alone billions every year. However, companies with highly committed employees enjoy 81% lower absenteeism compared to businesses with low engagement.
While time off to recharge is important for everyone, people who feel motivated and committed to their jobs are more likely to bring their best selves to work. The attendance benefits of employee engagement also suggest a strong correlation with overall employee wellness, as healthy and happy employees are significantly less likely to miss work.
7. Healthier, more effective employees
While engaged and healthy employees miss 70% fewer work days for health-related reasons over a year, the health benefits of employee engagement go far beyond attendance. Highly engaged employees who also report good overall well-being are 59% less likely to look for another job and 27% more likely to be described by their employers as excellent performers.
Company cultures that promote all-around wellness for employees—professionally, personally, financially, and socially—organically improve engagement and performance by demonstrating to people that they’re valued as individuals and not just numbers on a spreadsheet.
8. A stronger external network
Businesses can’t thrive without healthy relationships. And over the course of a company’s history, many of those relationships are likely to come by way of referrals from current and former employees. Whether you’re recruiting new hires or pursuing a partnership with a former coworker’s new organization, an engaged workforce benefits companies at every stage of the employee life cycle.
When current employees are bought in and previous employees leave on good terms, they’re more likely to leverage their personal networks to aid your organization. There’s a reason one of the commonly used employee engagement metrics is called employee net promoter score (eNPS)—it measures people’s commitment to your company and their likeliness to describe your organization as a great place to work.
9. More satisfied customers
Employee engagement doesn’t just benefit organizations internally. When people feel connected to their jobs, it shows in their interactions with your customers, clients, and partners. Rather than simply going through the motions, people who feel a strong sense of purpose at work are more likely to go above and beyond to deliver great results.
According to Gallup’s analysis of how engagement relates to business performance, companies who ranked near the top for engagement scores enjoyed 10% greater customer loyalty compared to those with less-engaged workforces.
10. Stronger relationships between employees and managers
Engaged employees have better relationships with their managers—and by the same token, the quality of management has a significant effect on employee engagement. Research from Gallup estimates at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement is determined by the effectiveness of managers and other company leaders.
When managers and their team members have effective tools for communicating and sharing workplace feedback, it perpetuates a culture of transparency and openness that encourages everyone to improve themselves and their work habits. Organizations that invest in training their managers will enjoy the benefits of greater employee engagement as well as more effective leadership.
While the many benefits of employee engagement are heavily intertwined, all of them add up to more productive and profitable organizations, full of loyal employees working toward shared goals. From major engagement initiatives to quick check-ins, Poll Everywhere makes it simple to design and distribute custom polls and surveys that keep a finger on the pulse of your company culture and help you understand how to better support your teams.
If you’re looking for additional ideas about how to create a more committed workforce, check out our employee engagement ebook for useful insights about building a stronger remote culture and keeping your people connected to your company’s vision.