5 Ways Employee Engagement Makes Your Company More Competitive

Engaged employees stay longer, work harder and care more.

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By John Boitnott

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Employee engagement has become something of a buzz phrase lately, which is unfortunate because busy entrepreneurs and business owners tend to tune out buzzwords.

In this particular case, the buzz phrase refers to something that benefits companies in real, concrete ways. Simply put, the rewards of employee engagement make your business more successful. Employee engagement is feeling connected to the job and the company, as well as having a sense of fulfillment and well-being in performing specific job duties. It leads to several observable traits and behaviors:

  • Fuller grasp of the company's long-term goals and how their job functions fit into the whole.

  • A personal belief in, and commitment to, the company and its mission.

  • More harmonious and respectful relationships with coworkers.

  • Continuing to stay on top of skills development as well as changes in the field or industry.

There are many benefits to enjoying high levels of employee engagement, but it's not just about making your employees feel better or happier at work (though that's intrinsically valuable). According to one Harvard Business Review/Achievers study, more than 70 percent of business owners believe employee engagement has directly driven greater business success.

In short, exemplary employee engagement presents your company with a distinct set of advantages over the competition in the following five ways.

Related: 5 Companies Getting Employee Engagement Right

Your workers are more productive.

If you want greater productivity levels for your business, try working on increasing your employees' levels of engagement in their jobs. Here are just a few actions that help build engagement:

  • Give them challenging, fulfilling work.

  • Share responsibility for decisions and outcomes.

  • Demonstrate fairness.

  • Provide training and opportunities for advancement.

When people are engaged, work feels lighter in every way. As a result, stress levels fall and people feel stronger and capable of more work. To put it simply, when team members simultaneously experience decreased stress and higher energy levels, your company's productivity rises.

That makes sense. The things that give us intrinsic rewards tend to keep us motivated more deeply. In the workplace, this results in improved output and increased profits.

Related: How to Make Employee Engagement a Top Priority

Your customers are more satisfied.

High degrees of employee engagement also result in greatly enhanced customer loyalty. This leads to a greater number of repeat purchases and better word-of-mouth marketing, as compared to companies with lackluster engagement levels.

In one case, a chain of department stores experienced much higher levels of customer satisfaction, as reported by the customers themselves, when they were helped by deeply engaged employees.

Your employees experience fewer safety failures.

Studies also suggest that engaged workers have far fewer safety violations or incidents. This results in decreased lost time, better and more consistent attendance, and decreased associated costs.

Safer companies also enjoy greater productivity, since incidents that interrupt operations are decreased. An engaged workforce makes for a safer and more profitable workplace.

Your company has less turnover.

If you want to reduce turnover as well as employee absenteeism, work on improving your company's employee engagement levels. One Fortune 100 manufacturer was able to cut its employee turnover rate from 14.5 percent to a little over four percent, as well as cutting its absenteeism rate in half, through enhanced engagement.

Turnover and absenteeism can drive up labor costs and certainly result in lost productivity. When employees are out sick or jump ship early in their tenures with your company, there's an opportunity cost there with which you must cope. By way of contrast, longer tenures and reduced absenteeism help your company maintain the momentum of streamlined operations.

Engaged employees simply don't have the desire to find a new job that disengaged workers do. When you're able to retain your workforce for a longer period of time, they become more valuable. With any wise investment, dividends grow larger over time as the value of the investment increases. It's true of financial investments as well as human capital investments.

That increased loyalty pays off for your company in deeper institutional memory and a shared set of interests, meaning your employees have more reason and desire to see your business succeed. A renewable sense of loyalty coupled with longer employment terms means your company benefits from greater innovation and effort.

Related: Employee Engagement Is More Important Than the Customer

Your profits are bigger.

The end result of a highly engaged workforce is a much healthier bottom line. Improved productivity, reduced labor and safety costs, and a greater level of customer satisfaction cumulatively improve profit margins.

This means your company enjoys a healthy competitive advantage over companies in your field that don't prize and prioritize employee engagement.

Related: Four Strategies To Boost Employee Engagement That Can Improve Your Bottom Line

Final thoughts

With all these terrific benefits, it's smart to invest in enhancing your company's employee engagement levels. Think about driving engagement by integrating employees more in decision making processes, where possible. Allow employees to voice their ideas to the appropriate manager. Encourage (and reward) managers who listen to and implement smart ideas from their employees. Finally, make sure you're demonstrating your commitment to helping employees stay healthy and fulfilled in their work and their lives with practical strategies.

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

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