Benefits of Employee Engagement: How to Improve Morale & Job Satisfaction

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Workers looking at chart on their computers.

Only 15% of all workers in the world are truly engaged in their jobs, according to the “State of the Global Workplace” report published by market research firm Gallup in late 2017. For North America, that number rises to 33% but still reflects poorly on the engagement efforts of today’s business leaders.

As any MBA program, online or otherwise, will teach you, the lack of employee engagement is the death of productivity. So, how do we fix it? What does it take to get workers enthusiastic about their company, co-workers, and careers?

How Companies Benefit by Keeping Their Employees Happy

From programs that recognize and reward workers’ accomplishments to office temperature and other work environment aspects, many factors affect employee well-being. The recruiting service Recruiter examines many of the benefits to employers who succeed at keeping their workforce happy:

  • Productivity: According to a 2014 study conducted by the University of Warwick, happy employees are 12% more productive than the average worker, while unhappy employees are 10% less productive.
  • Creativity: Researchers have also found that people are more creative when they are happy, and happy employees are also more likely to put more effort into their work.
  • Collaboration: When employees are content and sociable, they are more comfortable with one another and more likely to share their thoughts and opinions with their co-workers.
  • Loyalty: Nothing will make top-producing employees look for a new job faster than low morale in their workplace. Conversely, employees who enjoy their work, as their work environment, and feel comfortable with their co-workers are more likely to stick around, which saves employers time and money by reducing turnover.

Unmotivated, Disengaged Employees Cost Businesses Money

When employees feel detached from their work, co-workers, and managers, they hinder others’ productivity. Their negativity can sabotage others’ best efforts to achieve company goals. Human resources software vendor Shiftboard describes the many ways unhappy workers impact a company’s profitability:

  • Close to 70% of all U.S. workers “don’t like their job.” Forbes cites a Gallup study that found disengaged employees are 18% less productive than the average worker, have 37% more absenteeism, and are 15% less profitable. Overall, 34% of an unhappy worker’s salary is wasted.
  • Each year, U.S. companies record between $483 billion and $604 billion in lost productivity due to disengaged workers.
  • A study by employment services firm Achievers found that despite the low level of worker engagement, most employees intend to keep their current jobs, which means they will continue to have a negative effect on their employers’ profitability.

The Habits That Make Employees Happy and Employers More Profitable

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to realizing the benefits of employee engagement is the reluctance among top executives to acknowledge the problem and commit to actions that will combat it. The Achievers employee survey determined that only 9% of company leaders are “very committed” to culture initiatives in their firms, while 58% of workers report their companies have taken no action to improve worker engagement or merely react when work-culture problems arise rather than being proactive.

Forbes recommends the following steps to improve employee morale and job satisfaction:

  1. Survey employees about how happy they are in their work, and share the results, both good and bad. By demonstrating transparency, managers are more likely to win their employees’ cooperation.
  2. Get workers more involved in determining the actions to take to improve employee engagement. Workers will then be more committed to the changes that will be required to make the workplace more conducive to their happiness.
  3. Hold workers accountable for their commitment to a more productive work environment, and communicate with them regularly to gauge their success and anticipate obstacles.
  4. Don’t rely on the standard annual survey of employee satisfaction. The key to improving employee morale and job satisfaction is prioritizing the benefits of employee engagement.

Tips for Keeping Employees Motivated and Optimistic

Creating a productive workplace requires a concerted effort by managers to demonstrate to their employees that they are committed to their comfort and well-being and that they regularly recognize individual employees’ contributions. To ensure employees are engaged in their work, managers must commit to the long-term, on-going process of improving employee morale and job satisfaction.

Communication

Companies that under-communicate allow their employees to control the message. Rumors travel fast. The best communicators have dedicated and strategic long-term internal marketing plans across multiple channels—newsletters, emails, videos, social media posts, town halls, and more.

Appreciation

Appreciation goes beyond financial rewards to include a simple thank you or more widespread public recognition. Employees want to know that the company values what they bring to the organization in terms of knowledge, education, and experience.

Flexibility

Today’s workers have many competing priorities, including children, elderly parents, education, and health and wellness. Offering flexible hours, telecommuting options, and family-friendly resources can go a long way in driving employee satisfaction.

Ownership

The more employees feel like their work matters to the bottom line, the more engaged they will be. Merit-based increases help top performers stay engaged while also motivating others to up their game.

Pride

Is the company doing things that employees should be proud of? Be sure to share information about financial stability, community involvement, environmentally conscious business practices, and other aspects that generate a sense of pride.

Inclusion

Inclusion has replaced diversity as a watchword for companies. Most workplaces are diverse by nature these days, with several ethnicities and age groups working side by side. What really matters is a sentiment of belonging, of being included, no matter who you are, where you come from, or your lifestyle.

Empowerment

Empowerment leads to employee engagement and can be championed in many ways. A truly open culture, where employees have the freedom to share their ideas and give honest feedback, is empowering. Training and education programs also enable confidence, as do team collaboration and leadership involvement.

Ohio University’s Master of Business Administration Degree

Ohio University’s online Master of Business Administration instructs students in techniques for motivating employees and enhancing their job satisfaction. The program includes a concentration in executive management, which offers courses that focus on leadership and change, prescriptive analytics, and ethics in leadership.

Students may also choose to concentrate in accounting, business analytics, strategic selling and sales leadership, finance, health care, operations and supply chain management, or business venturing and entrepreneurship. Learn more about how Ohio University’s online MBA program prepares graduates for a range of successful careers in business.

Recommended Readings

Ohio University Blog, “MSM vs. MBA: Which Degree Is Right for You?”
Ohio University Blog, “How to Be Productive at Work Without Sacrificing Creativity”
Ohio University Blog, “How to Navigate International Cultural Differences in Business”

Sources

Achievers, “The Complacency Effect: Despite Disengagement, Employees Plan to Stay at Their Jobs”
Forbes, “How Much Are Your Disengaged Employees Costing You?”
Gallup, “State of the Global Workplace”
Recruiter, “The Real Advantage of Happy Employees”
Shiftboard, “The Real Cost of Employee Disengagement”