What makes one company or firm more successful than another? Better products, services, strategies, technologies or, perhaps, a better cost structure? Certainly, all of these contribute to superior performance, but all of them can be copied over time. The one thing that creates sustainable competitive advantage – and therefore ROI, company value and long-term strength – is the workforce, the people who are the company. And when it comes to people, research has shown, time and again, that employees who are engaged significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged. In the fight for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiator, engaged employees are the ultimate goal.

Employee engagement can be defined as:

“The commitment to and passion for one’s work and role within a company. Engagement, as opposed to satisfaction, translates directly into discretionary effort—the willingness to do more than only meet job requirements and customer needs.”

“Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation, something or someone in their organisation and how hard they work and how long they stay as a result of that commitment.”

Employee engagement is the emotional connection or extent to which employees are motivated to contribute to business success, and are willing to apply discretionary effort to accomplishing tasks important to the achievement of stated business goals.

An engaged workforce can have a significant effect on financial and operational results and in most cases without an engaged workforce, customer relation efforts will flounder. Businesses with highly engaged employees see higher customer satisfaction, have lower turnover rates, and outperform in terms of customer relations impact and ROI, than businesses with lower levels of employee engagement. One of the most interesting aspects of employee engagement is that it can serve as a barometer for the health of the company at large.

“Companies that engage and empower their workforce are better positioned to anticipate and adapt to changing market conditions.”

A company’s engagement efforts are a tangible manifestation of its company culture and if that culture is one that is defensive, unbalanced, or inflexible, it spells long-term doom. Importantly, as cycle rates of change continue to become shorter and shorter, the ability to adapt, innovate, and continually improve is crucial.

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” Employee engagement is the key to activating a high performing workforce.

The most recent survey results indicate that:

  • Only 29 percent of employees are actively engaged in their jobs. These employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. People that are actively engaged help move the organisation forward.
  • 54 percent of employees are not engaged. These employees have essentially “checked out,” sleepwalking through their workday and putting time – but not passion – into their work. These people embody what Jack Welch said several years ago. To paraphrase him: “Never mistake activity for accomplishment.”
  • 17 percent of employees are actively disengaged. These employees are busy acting out their unhappiness, undermining what their engaged co-workers are trying to accomplish.
  • Employees most committed to their organisations put in 57 percent more effort on the job—and are 87 percent less likely to resign—than employees who consider themselves disengaged.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.

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