What is Employee Engagement?

At the heart of employee engagement is the idea that employees are emotionally invested in a business and giving their best selves at work.

They’re performing at optimal productivity. They work smarter, not harder. They’re happy to go the extra mile. They make contributions they wouldn’t otherwise make, and they’re willing to do it.

And though that definition may seem straightforward, it’s easy to confuse engagement with other important HR health metrics.

Here’s what employee engagement is not:

1. Employee satisfaction. An employee can be satisfied in their job without being engaged. Employees are satisfied when they’re simply able to avoid feelings of unhappiness in their job; they’re engaged when they’re committed, interested, and are highly attached to the outcome of their work.

2. Employee Retention. Don’t get us wrong, employee retention is also critically important. But if retention is a cake, engagement is the icing on the cake. Remember, organizations gain a return on their investment with retention. They gain a competitive edge with engagement.

3. The employee experience. Much like job satisfaction, the employee experience is something that must precede engagement; but they’re not one-in-the-same. Great employee experience is a gift given from the employer to the employee; engagement is the gift the employee gives back.


Learn more about the employee experience in our manifesto:
The Employee Experience Revolution

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How to improve employee engagement

Most business leaders have come to understand the importance of engagement, but they don’t always know why, or what to do about it.

The idea of dedicating resources to engagement initiatives can seem vague at best, and frivolous at worst. To help you get started, here are 8 ways to help improve your overall engagement levels.


🙌 Show appreciation

Say “thank you” regularly. A whopping 66% of employees admit they’d quit a job if they felt undervalued and unappreciated. Luckily, employee recognition is an easy, low-cost strategy to fight disengagement. The secret? Recognition needs to flow from all directions — managers, teams, and individual employees must feel empowered to recognize their peers for a job well done.

Include Leadership. Having corporate leadership and management involved with recognition and engagement helps keep employees connected to the corporate purpose. For example, have the CEO give recognition to employees or teams that live out the corporate values at a company meeting.


Learn how to build a culture of appreciation with a
recognition and rewards program

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📈 Focus on growth

Create career growth opportunities. In a survey of highly engaged top performers, 45% cited professional or skill development as a top motivator, and another 13% said opportunities for advancement mattered to them. Try offering employees a mentorship lunch with an executive or reward them for taking a class to show them that their growth matters to you.

Give frequent and specific feedback. Industry leaders are ditching the annual performance review for continuous performance management conversations. More frequent feedback gives employees a stronger direction, makes it easier for them to perform well, and gives them a better sense of meaning.

🧩 Help foster connections

Encourage regular 1-on-1s. Encourage managers to meet at least once a week with their direct reports. This opens the door to more regular discussions on performance and can fast track employee development.

Let employees lead. Whether it’s teaching a training course, designing a team-building activity, or getting a group together for a fun run — asking employees to take the lead on a project that matters to them instills a sense of unity and connection with fellow team members.

🌱 Top it off with meaningful impact

Communicate your core values. Do this early and often — not just during onboarding. Bulletin boards, performance reviews, and newsletters are easy opportunities to reinforce the values that drive your company forward.

Align employee work to company goals. Did you know that only 7% of employees understand their role in achieving high-level business goals? Setting meaningful work goals can help employees plug into the bigger picture and feel connected to group wins.


Learn how to drive engagement in our guide:
A Blueprint for Effective Employee Engagement

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The impact of high employee engagement

Ultimately, employee engagement is a competitive advantage. According to Gallup survey results, highly engaged organizations experience:

  • 21% greater profitability
  • 41% reduction in absenteeism
  • 17% increase in productivity
  • 25-65% lower turnover
  • 10% higher customer engagement
  • 48% fewer staff safety incidents
  • Higher stock value

Now, how’s that for value? Creating engaged workforces not only improves the quality of life for employees and their leaders, but it also translates into recovered revenue and new business.


Ready for your own engagement program?

Kazoo’s all-in-one Employee Experience Platform has helped hundreds of businesses tap into the power of employee engagement through continuous performance management, Recognition & Rewards, and employee engagement surveys. So, if you’re ready to re-engage your workplace, check out our Kazoo overview or schedule a personalized demo today.

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