How Culture and Collaboration Can Increase Employee Engagement

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Disengaged employees are one of the top reasons why businesses fail, why office culture becomes toxic, why companies lose their competitive edge and why many startups’ become apathetic and prone to failure.

Not only do disengaged employees negatively affect the workplace, but they will cost companies more than $2,000 per employee per year. A survey by the State of the American Workplace shows that about 70 percent of American workers say they feel fully disengaged from the workplace. It’s a problem across industries and sectors.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Villanova University’s Online MBA program.

Your Employees Have Checked out

Disengaged employees are zombies–they function at the base level, and aren’t keen to take up challenges, collaborate, or be innovative in the workplace. About 52 percent of American workers aren’t engaged, with 18 percent of American workers being actively disengaged. Only a paltry 30 percent of American workers can say that they feel engaged, inspired, and useful at work. When you measure the aggregate damage of unattached workers, it equates to $450-$550 billion in lost productivity on a yearly basis.

The reason why American workers are chronically disengaged is numerous. Many workers simply feel stressed and isolated at work. Office workers, for example, tend to work for eight hours at a time in an isolated cubicle, feeling like their skills aren’t being utilized. Many of these employees feel engaged because they have nobody to appreciate the work that they do. Not to mention that many managers focus on the negatives, and completely overlook the positive contributions done by employees.

Positive Return on Investment When Investing in Employee Engagement Efforts

The current annual employee engagement spent in the U. S. is about $720 million, with it expecting to drastically rise to about $1.5 billion in the next decade. Cognizant employers are quickly catching on to the positive return on investment when they utilize programs and plans that underline employee engagement. Actually, increasing employee engagement investment by only 10 percent can increase business profits by $2400 per year, per employee. Highly engaged employees are particularly beneficial, as they are 30 percent more likely to have above average productivity. Positively engaged employees outperform other companies by up to 202 percent while generating 2.5 times more revenue.

Not only is it profitable to engage employees, but it also circumvents the expensive process of onboarding. Obtaining new employees is administratively costly. Luckily highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave the company, reducing employee turnover.

Company Culture Has a Direct Influence to Employee Engagement

Company culture refers to the social construct of the workplace that determines how a company’s employees and management interact. Even though there aren’t concrete boundaries as to what company culture is and is not, it still has very tangible effects on employees.

It’s important to note that the number one reason that employees go the extra mile is when they feel a sense of camaraderie. CEOs and business owners are aware, with 90 percent of business owners saying that the manifesting culture within their company is important, with 90 percent of CEOs believing that improving company culture will also improve the value of the company — and they are correct. However, only about 15 percent of CEOs can actually say that their company culture is where it needs to be.

Here Are the Facts When It Comes to The Importance of Employee Collaboration

28 hours per week is spent searching for internal collaboration, while 49 percent of millennials use some type of social tool to help satisfy that craving for internal collaboration. A survey even noted that 40 percent of these millennials will even pay out-of-pocket for social collaboration. About 30 percent of organizations note that poor communication is an employee retention issue. Even with all these statistics, only 18 percent of employees are evaluated on communication when it comes to regular performance reviews.

The Unique Benefits of the Engaged Employee

Organizations made up of highly involved employees are noted to report 22 percent higher productivity, with even industries that are inundated with high turnover rates reporting a 25 percent lower turnover when they invest on preparation and engagement programs. Businesses that report above average employee engagement have a 70 percent higher likelihood of success than those with below average engagement. Interestingly enough, employee engagement can help reduce safety incidents by 48 percent.

Here Are the Companies That Are Doing It Right

REI actively uses social media to get intimate with employees. Social media allows companies to break that formal wall that tends to exist between the company’s identity and actual employees, with REI using social media platforms to debate employees. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has a mentoring program for their workers, enabling a direct link between low-level employees and higher level management. This commitment to growth shows that there is a future for all employees — regardless of their official title. DHL Express also jumped on the engagement bandwagon, with a company culture that has a propensity to regularly thanking employees and their participation.

How to Engage Your Employees

It doesn’t have to be complicated — just be dedicated and try to know your employees. Simply by talking to them, and asking employees about their interests and how they invest your time outside of the workplace can help them feel more at ease at work. Give them a platform to speak about their grievances, interests, and goals and encourage them to solve issues that they may have inside or outside of the office.

Also, make sure that you underline the roles and tasks of your employees — workers want to understand how they are specifically contributing to the business. You can do this by holding employee orientations, helping to create long-term and short-term goals that specifically utilize their skill set. Recognize top performers and tell employees when they do an exceptional job. A genuine appreciation goes a very long way when it comes to the day-to-day tasks of your employees.

As an employer, do not be afraid to take the back seat and allow your employees to provide feedback. This creates a culture of learning and inclusiveness, where CEOs and the everyday employee are deemed equal in a professional setting. By acting on employee feedback, CEOs and business owners inadvertently tell their employees that they also want to be part of the collaborative effort to reinforce a positive company culture.